Google Slides as Narrated Storybooks

Greg Kulowiec
Nov 15 · 4 min read

After months of waiting, Google has finally announced that the insert audio feature will begin to appear in all G Suite EDU Domains over the coming weeks. I have had access to the feature for a few months and already shared a post about transforming Google Slides into a make-shift podcasting environment. In a workshop I was facilitating today in Barrington, NH, we explored the idea of leveraging Google Slides with inserted audio as an environment to created audio narrated storybooks.

The process is fairly straight forward and can be modified as needed by any classroom teacher, depending on the needs and abilities of the students creating.

STEP 1: Plan and Create the story

It might make sense to do this on paper, in a Google Document or on index cards. Follow the strategies and best practices for student writing that are already working for your students! It is important to be comfortable keeping the technology out of this process if it is a best fit for your students. Alternatively, students might benefit from using the voice to text feature available in Google Docs & Google Slides (in the speaker notes section) to brainstorm ideas.

STEP 2: Create or Find Visuals

The group of teachers I was with were primarily in elementary and middle school and our discussion revolved around students creating their visuals offline first, and then importing them into Google Slides. This can be done by taking a picture of the images with a phone or mobile device, scanning or even by using the facing camera from the insert menu

Insert offline images with the Insert — Image — Camera feature in Google Slides

Here is an example of an offline image imported into Google Slides via the Insert — Image — Camera feature:

Offline Image imported into Google Slides

STEP 3: Create Narration as Audio Files

My favorite tool to quickly capture audio when working on a Chromebook is 123apps.com. Without a login, students can record audio files that are downloaded as Mp3 files to their downloads folder. From there, the files need to be uploaded to Google Drive so they can be inserted later into a Google Slide.

Audio recording with 123app.com

STEP 4: Find Background Audio / Music

The YouTube Audio Library is a helpful free resource to find background music that will automatically begin playing in the final product. There are helpful filters in the library that include audio with “no attribution required” as well as: Genre, Mood, Instrument and Duration.

Songs filtered by “Attribution Not Required” In YouTube’s Audio Library

STEP 5: Add & Layer Content in Google Slides

With all of the images imported into Google Slides, narration audio captured and uploaded to Google Drive & background music downloaded from the YouTube Audio Library and uploaded to Google Drive, it is time to construct the final product.

  • Insert the background music audio into the slide
  • Click on the audio file and then select “Format Options”. This setting allows the background audio play automatically when the slide is opened in Presentation Mode and the audio file can be hidden when in Present Mode. Also, the playback volume can be adjusted for the background audio as to have it not overwhelm the student’s narration.
Inserted background audio can be adjusted in Google Slides to be hidden, play back automatically and at a lower volume
  • Next, insert the student narration into the slide. The narration audio can be modified to play back immediately, or it can be manually played back by the viewer of the final product. It might help to add a small icon to indicated the audio can be clicked to listen.
Inserted audio narration with small icon to indicate “click to listen”

STEP 6: Publish!

When the entire book is compiled, the final product can be published to the web for anyone to listen & enjoy the story.

File — Publish to the Web to share the final narrated storybook
Published view of a narrated storybook with Google Slides

Extension Ideas

An interesting modification to the approach outlined above would be to transform comic strips into a narrated experience. Google Slides allows multiple audio files to be imported into one slide. Students could create their comic strip offline or digitally (directly in slide or any reasonable web tool) and can then record narration for each individual panel of the comic. The final product would look something like this:

Google Slides as Narrated Comic Books

Good luck creating & let me know what you think of this idea on Twitter or Instagram: @gregkulowiec

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