Home language activities using iPad photo apps


Photos (especially those taken on the spot) always seem to be an successful resource for communicating with children. It might have something to do with the way that the child can be engaged with the creation of the activity, as well as starring in the results.

I recently wrote a blog on using iPad videos and photos to support language development without the need for any apps. Here are some more ideas for home which involve photo editing apps or apps into which you can insert photos.

Photo Grid (free)photo grid

A great way of editing photos with speech bubbles, text and colour. This is a creative way of looking at photos of an outing or holiday. If you have photos saved in the photos section of your iPad, it makes it very easy to edit.

You can choose a few photos to make into a grid or choose to work with one at a time. Talk about the pictures by guessing what people in the photos were saying or decide what title to give each picture.










doodlecastDoodle cast (£1.99)

A lovely app where you can annotate photos which you take on the spot. Start recording and draw pictures on the photo. Then play back the video of it happening.

A lovely one for taking turns to give each other instructions e.g. ‘Draw a blue hat on my head’.

Also try talking back over the video using basic sequence e.g. ‘first, I drew the hat and then I added some red shoes’

Pho.to lab (freephotolab)

A range of professional looking special effects for photos including magazine covers, montages and interesting backgrounds. Insert a photo of you or your child into the app and choose a design. You could invent a story around it  e.g. ‘how I came to be on the cover of Vogue’ or ‘why my photo is on a £10 note’.

You need a wifi connection while using this one.






Abricot jigsaws (free) – making a photo into a jigsaw. See earlier blog.

shadow puppetShadow Puppet (free). There are a number of story telling apps for which photos can form a central focus – see my earlier blog on story telling with your child.

One that I’ve recently found is Shadow Puppet. It’s very easy to move between photos and talk about them rather than having to record an individual message for each photograph. For example, I created a mini video about a trip to see the book benches in London by flicking through the photos and recording a voiceover narrative at the same time. Very user friendly.








General tips for using photos:

  • Whenever the app asks you whether you will allow access to photo library, say ‘yes’. You will sometimes need to change the privacy settings under settings/general if this is not set up.

Using your iPad for story telling with your child using free apps


imagistoryNarrative skills are an essential part of children’s language development. Young children learn to structure stories and put events in sequence by talking about things they have done and seen. These skills support their ability to create their own imaginative stories as their talking develops.

Below are some ideas for (mostly) free apps which you can use to support your child’s narrative and story telling skills from a very early language stage onwards. Some of them allow you to record a story bit by bit and play it back at the end and others provide visual prompts to help you let your imagination run wild!


Story Creator  story creator

How to use: This app can help develop a child’s story telling skills by supporting them to retell stories of things that have happened. Whenever you are having an exciting day out or doing something interesting at home, think about taking photos/videos on the iPad and creating a story about it afterwards. Make up a story when you get back and tell another family member astorycreatorbout what you saw or play them your recording.

  • Click on the + and Add New Story.
  • Give the story a name and add a photo for the front cover.
  • Click on Add new page symbol to add new pictures to the story.
  • Click on the microphone picture to add a recording.



How to use: This is a wordless picture book to encourage you and your child to make up a story yourselves.

  • Click on Create and choose one of the two free stories available.
  • You can either fill in your name and take a photo first, or just go to Quiet Read to start the story.
  • Talk about what is happening and swipe left to move between pages.
  • Read the story again and again and use new words each time!






storytime sounds

Story Time Sounds

How to use: This is a great resource of sound effects which you can incorporate into youstorytimesoundsr stories. A motivating resource for story telling and a few prompts to help develop the plot…

  • Choose a category e.g. Space, Lost World etc.
  • Choose a sound to mark the beginning of your story.
  • Take turns to choose a sound and say what is happening next using that sound!


puppet palsPuppet pals

Cost: free for basic version/ £1.99 to add your own photos

How to use: You can use this app to make up a story about you, your child and fictional characters at the same time. You can record the story while moving the characters around on the screen.

  • Either choose ‘actors’ from the menu or click on ‘Add actor from photo.’
  • Choose a background scene (you can also Add backdrop from photo).
  • Use the scale in the bottom left hand corner to make the picture fill the screen and move the characters about.
  • Click the red button to record a story and save to the iPad using the disk symbol.


Suggestions for activities:

  • Take photos of you, your child and your home. Create a movie about something you have been doing that week.
  • Make a short movie to show your child and then let them do the talking.
  • Make up a story using photos of your child’s favourite toys.
  • Dress up and take photos of yourselves, then make them into a movie that you can show other people.


story wheelStory Wheel Lite

How to use: This ‘Spin the Wheel’ app allows you to record a story and helps you decide on a character to talk about next. You can use this app as a tool for creating stories with more than one person.

  • storywheel Click on Create a Story. You will need to fill in your names before you continue.
  • Select a theme from Pirates, Story Teller, Knights and Princesses etc.
  • The first person spins the wheel to show a character.
  • Record a short sentence or two about this character as the first part of the story.
  • Press Next Player and spin again.
  • When you have completed creating a story, press Done
  • Say Yes to saving and then Listen to Story.