Supporting Phonics Instruction with Children’s Literature and Writing

I am always on the hunt for new digital text and tools to support writing in the early childhood education classrooms. Then came across my twitter feed while I virtually lurked the #dml2014 conference.

As soon as I saw the beauty and simplicity I could not wait to try out the tool.

How Do I Do It?

Any student or teacher can use storyscape. You first have to request an account (the product is still in Beta). Then you click on create a story. From there you can choose from an ever expanding collection of featured artists. Each art set has a set of characters and backgrounds.

Next you draft your story (after careful pre-writing of course). You can select backgrounds and between characters. Add text to each page. The amount of editing tools are perfect for schools. All of the required tools are there but young users would never be overloaded.

The developers of, an MIT MediaLab project, have designed the books for mobile reading. Many of the characters have animations. When the mobile reader gets released (looks like an Android app) readers can activate the animations by shaking the screen or through sound. Exciting times.

 How do I teach with StoryScape?

Of course you can just encourage students to write. Give them free creative reigns and let the go play. Our students need this kind of writing time. You may however want to connect the writing to learning objective taught during a mini-lesson.

Some ideas could include:

  • Character Traits-Develop two characters with flat (very predictable) traits such as good and bad.
  • Static/Dynamic characters-Do characters change because of the conflict?
  • Problem and Solution-Conflict is at the center of plot.

To pilot Storyscape I had two goals. I wanted to reinforce words with r-controlled vowels and then I wanted cowrite a story that included characters, settings, problem and a solution.

I began by first creating a model text that used short a sounds.


Next I created a story with my two favorite students.

Here is our finished story


Some ideas for future development:

Storyscape is in beta so new features will roll out quickly. I would like to be able to highlight and change text within the box rather than making gloabl changes. I would have put all the words with r-controlled vowels in bold or another color. I would also like an embed so I could share finished stories on my blog or your classroom website.


I highly recommend for all levels of education. I think the app holds special promise for writing in the early childhood classroom.

I am just discovering the rich features of the site. I can not wait to start and play with all the tools to optimize my stories for mobile apps.

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4 responses on “Supporting Phonics Instruction with Children’s Literature and Writing”

  1. Very cool! As a future special education teacher, I think this sounds like a promising thing for students of all levels. It sounds interesting because I could differentiate depending on my students abilities and use this technology to engage them and encourage them to continue writing stories.


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