Ask a Storytime Ninja: Apps for Storytime

Ok, I know this is on a lot of minds lately so share your thoughts in the comments. If you have a favorite app for using in storytime, let’s hear it!

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This week’s question:

“What apps do you use for storytime? How/When do you incorporate them? Any helpful storytime app websites out there?”


Emily (@PoesyGalore) says: I started introducing apps in storytime this past spring, mainly with the goal of demonstrating some great free apps to parents and caregivers and establishing the library as a resource for app advisory. The three I use regularly I connect to “letter of the day” activities: I use Finger Paint With Sounds to demonstrate writing the letter (here’s a 10-second demo), tying the app to ECRR’s “Write” practice and mentioning to parents that writing on a tablet with a finger is writing that even kids who can’t yet grasp a crayon can participate in. My A-Z is, chiefly, a photography app that allows you to make letter flashcards with your own images and record 30 seconds of audio to go with each image. I tie it to ECRR’s “Talk” and “Play” practices, encouraging parents to create alphabets (you can make multiple cards for the same letter) with their kids on photo walks (“Create an ‘Around the Neighborhood’ alphabet; try making an ‘Our Vacation’ alphabet when on vacation; try an ‘Actions’ app, challenging your child to come up with a verb for each letter and taking a picture of your child or family engaging in that action,” etc). In storytime, we take a snapshot of an action that matches the letter of the day, and I show the kids the completed flashcard the following week, before taking that week’s snapshot. I’ve also used My A-Z to create a “Library Alphabet”, emailing the images to myself and printing them out to make alphabet cards for one wall of our children’s area. Sock Puppets is a free app that lets you choose from six puppets and several backgrounds and record a 30-second scene that you can play back later and/or share on Facebook and YouTube. A 99-cent upgrade lets you import your own photos as backgrounds, and I purchased this so I could place my puppets in front of different spots in the library. I tie Sock Puppets to ECCR’s “Play” and “Talk” practices and encourage parents to make up scenes with their children. A cool feature of Sock Puppets is the ability to, after having recorded a voice sample, set a voice pitch for each puppet. You record a scene in your own voice, but once Sock Puppets processes it, you hear it played back in the different pitches you set. From echoes to amplifiers, kids love hearing their voices played back transformed, so even something as simple as singing the Alphabet Song while using Sock Puppets can be magical. In storytime, I use Sock Puppets to reinforce the letter of the day and demonstrate our letter of the day song before we sing it ourselves (here’s a 30-second demo, set in front of my library) and, on occasion, to introduce different sections of the library in a fun way to kids during storytime (here’s a 30-second demo introducing our information desk).

Little eLit ( is my go-to resource for gathering possibilities–many who use apps in storytime share their experiences and best practices there. For those interested in free apps that tie in well with ECRR’s five practices, I have a slide deck called iPads and Early Literacy: 40 Fantastic Free iPad Apps for Prereaders; many of the apps have storytime potential. The deck includes screenshots, links, and tips for parents and caregivers on getting the most out of each app.

Angela (@annavalley) says: Check Little eLit and Pinterest for ideas.

Kendra (@klmpeace) says: I have only used animal sounds apps in storytime so far. We don’t have a department iPad so I’ve been introducing tech with our laptop and projector (Tumblebooks and digital flannel boards I make in PowerPoint). I used a bird sounds app (I cannot believe I deleted it and don’t remember what it was called! Maybe just Bird Songs?) I read The Big Woods Orchestra by Guido Van Genechten and played the real sound of the bird as well as making the sound on the page.
In a conversation with some colleagues about this, Mel of Mel’s Desk shared this idea: “You know, there’s some peek a boo apps, where you have a hiding animal, then touch the screen and the animal is revealed. You could go around and have every child find one animal…that wouldn’t take too long. Or you could show photos of things, I do that all the time in baby storytime with printed clip art photos. I think ABC GO is an app that has good stock photos (as well as some videos—so you could show a photo of a rooster, and then maybe some quick video of a rooster on a farm. ABC Go is the app I was thinking about, they have lots of themes now:” I LOVE IT! Haven’t tried it, but it’s definitely on my list.

About Kendra

Children's Librarian in the Northwest. Lover of toddlers, twitter, and TV (T's, too, apparently!).

Posted on September 3, 2013, in Ask a Storytime Ninja. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. One of my favorite go-to apps is Rosemary Wells’ Bunny Fun: Head Shoulders Knees and Toes ( It’s so cute and you can play it in 3 different languages!

  1. Pingback: Can technology promote early childhood literacy? – Early Child Literacy

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