Storybird is a website that allows you to write a story using fantastic artwork by illustrators. You can collaborate with other writers on the same story or write it yourself. There are lots of possibilities for using Storybird in the classroom which have been magnified by the recent addition of class accounts. You can click here to create one after initially signing up for an account. Each child can have their own account, all tied to yours. You can also create assignments where children submit a book they have written for that purpose.

When I first trialled using it I initially let the children play and they loved the freedom that Storybird gives them, whilst still supporting them structurally through the artwork on each page. For frequent classroom use however, it needs to be used for more than just a creative outlet. It needs to support objectives and skills development. So I used it myself to create a whole class text to try and see where it could be used in the classroom. Here is the book I created:

I found it surprisingly difficult to structure the text as its very nature is a page by page story that doesn’t necessarily have a way of creating a story mountain type structure etc (this makes sharing a story between collaborators easy to continue). However, this actually offers the opportunity for a great position in the classroom for Storybird. To be used as a tool for children to practice a developing skill. During the book I wrote, I tried to pack it with as many adverbials as possible as that is currently our sentence level focus in Year 4. Over a few days, during whole class sessions we worked on how to start a sentence with an adverbial clause. I then set an assignment related to adverbials, instructing the children to try and fit in an adverbial to each page. I deliberately didn’t give them any more structure as we were at the stage where they just needed to practice the skill. Using Storybird allowed this to happen but in an engaging way for the children. Here is an example:

Beyond writing, Storybird has fantastic potential for MFL. @lisibo has written several Spanish stories and converted them into video files here with her reading out the story in Spanish — How awesome is that?! @wizenedcrone has created a fantastic resource which is a collection of MFL storybirds here (French, Spanish, German and Italian).

If you have any other ways you have or are thinking about using Storybird in the classroom I would love to hear about them, please leave a comment below. If you are thinking about using it, give it a go — it’s well worth the effort!

Originally published at primarypete.net on June 17, 2010.