The Process of Creating Digital Stories on a Mac

This is the process we used to create digital stories using Apple's Keynote presentation software (similar to PowerPoint) with a first grade classroom in our district. It was a cooperative project between a classroom teacher and instructional technology specialist. It would be great to include an art teacher as well so students could create pictures to go with their stories. We used Keynote because it interfaced with iPhoto so well and made it easy for younger children.

Communication and Image Collection Phase (Using iPhoto)album_list.jpg

  1. Identify the theme of the project. Possible themes are:
    • Family member (or pet)
    • Trip
    • Special Event
    • Something Special About Me
    • Favorite Place or Memory
    • Favorite Person
    • Science Process (Life Cycles, Types of Rocks, Senses)
    • Person or event in History
    • Pourquoi ("Why?" Stories)
    • Themed Stories
  2. Collect photos, either in print or digital. An alternative to actual photos would be to have students draw, color, or paint pictures to go with their story. These will also be scanned in.
  3. Scan in print photos and/or consolidate digital images. Tips:
    • Create a folder on the computer for each child.
    • When scanning in pictures, name files with the student's name and a number (ie., seth1, seth2). Save each child's pictures to a folder with their name.
    • For digital images, drag and drop files into a folder with the student's name on the computer that has the scanned images on it. This way all of your photos end up together and you aren't bothering with a bunch of cds.
  4. When all digital images are ready, launch iPhoto. Drag student folders one by one into iPhoto. This will create a separate album for each child by the same name as the folder.
TIP: If image files are large, you will want to resize them in iPhoto prior to the publishing phase.

Writing Phase IMG_1393.jpg

iPhoto has the cool ability to print pages with mini-pics from an album. These are called contact sheets and we used them in our storyboards to write the stories.
  1. From within iPhoto, print out a contact sheet for each child's folder. Click here for Contact Sheet.pdf instructions.
  2. Either cut images out or have students do it.
  3. Depending on the age and ability of the child, have students words, sentences, poems or paragraphs about each picture.
  4. Edit and revise writing.

Publishing Phase

When students are done writing their stories, it's time to publish them on the computer. This can either be done in a lab setting (I suggest extra adults for young children) or in the classroom using laptops. We chose to do it in the classroom, using 4-5 laptops, so that we could work with students individually while other children either finished their writing or did another independent activity. For younger students you would probably want someone to type the story for them, with the child then adding pictures and choosing the background color. There are many tools that can be used for this part of the process, but I will focus on two: Apple Keynote and iMovie.

  1. Prior to students beginning this phase, load their pictures into iPhoto as before. Files can be moved from the original computer where they were scanned using a thumbdrive, over the network, or even an iPod. This is probably an area you will want to get help on from your technology specialist as they may have a more efficient way of moving files for you.
  2. Also load each computer with a template of the digitial storybook.
  3. Students will use the Keynote program to create their digital book. They will have a slide for their title, with each subsequent slide having a picture and the text that goes with it. Check back for detailed instructions on putting picture and text into a slide. View the video at the link below to see how to do this in Keynote.
  4. When all slides have been created, set the theme. Be sure to do this before you add audio or it may throw off the timing.
  5. Record audio for slides and the Share the digital story to iTunes.

Showcasing Phase

For students with parental permission, post finished stories to a web page. Incorporate the ability for viewers to comment if at all possible. This makes students feel REALLY important! You can view samples of Hempfield digitial stories at: