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4 Favorite Apps That Tap Creativity, Storytelling, and Imaginative Play

These apps tap your child's inner artist and offer endless amounts of open-ended play!
on July 30, 2014

I'm always looking for new ways to spark my boys' creativity, and I like finding new tools they can experiment with artistically. While we do lots of hands-on building, painting, model making, and art/constructing at home, I also troll the iTunes store for unique apps that provide artistic expression in unique and different mediums, too.  While this is not an exhaustive list of apps we've played with, the four apps below are favorites in our house. From found object art assembly to watercolors to movie-making as simple as 1-2-3, these apps are sure bets for kids who love open-ended, creative play. These apps have been revisited over and over again in our house because there is no "end" to what they can produce and they definitely bring out kids' inner Picasso, Monet, and Spielberg!  I hope you enjoy these as much as we do.

Happy creating!

Faces iMake – Right Brain Creativity ($3.99)

This is a fantastically unique creativity app that allows you to use common objects to make a face or picture. Using an existing image within the app (some of them famous paintings like the Mona Lisa), or your own photo, you can add objects and turn, resize, or copy them multiple times for making layers or patterns.  Make a nose out of a banana, hair from multiple flowers or a series of monkeys, or an animal out of lace and string and spaghetti. The possibilities are endless. Great for sequencing and fine motor skills practice. This app inspires a new way of looking at common objects and lets kids transform them into entirely new works of art. It definitely inspires "out-of-the -box" thinking. It's also a great way to gather ideas for art projects you can do at home with common objects you already have around the house. Oodles of fun.

Here are some samples we created:

Waterlogue ($2.99)

This app is a favorite in our house. The app transforms photos we've taken or images we've scanned into watercolor masterpieces. There are a number of different modes that you can play with to add dimension, illuminate, or make the watercolor bolder or softer. It's incredibly fun to see what highly photo realistic images look like in watercolor style – it's an entirely different image. They're beautiful! In addition to photos, it's fun to find abstract images or scans of patterns and fabrics and then import those images into the Waterlogue app and create a watercolor.  Kids love seeing the watercolor come to life and love observing the differences between the artistic media. We've printed and framed some of our creations.

Photo of my son kayaking.

Watercolor version from Waterlogue.

  Spin Art App ($1.99)

 I'm a huge fan of spin art. We've done so many projects at home using our tabletop spin art machine and splatting paints to make unique designs – and it always produces surprises and is a ton of fun. So when I discovered the Spin Art app, I had to try it out and see how it compared. My boys and I were addicted!! Just like the actual spin art machine, this app allows you to splat paint colors on a spinner and stop and start the spinning whenever you want. I love that you can play with the thickness of the paint splats and the speed of the spinner so that you can experiment with different line weights, which is much harder to do with the tabletop/tactile spin art machine. It's extremely easy to change and add multiple colors and the app offers a few different "paper" shapes to spin as well. It's addicting, simple, and fun and the results are eye-popping and beautiful! It's not a replacement for the tabletop spinner and the fun of splashing paints into a spinning machine – but spin art is fun in a digital medium, too, and the results are equally worth it.

Here are some samples we created:

  LEGO Movie Maker (Free)

 Way to go, LEGO! This is a simple-to-use stop-motion movie maker that my boys picked up in about 3 minutes. It's a fantastic way to turn their LEGO building instantly into storytelling and moviemaking. After downloading the free app, kids take photos of their "story." As they take photos, they change the scene/set however they want to move the story forward and take another picture. In our case, my boys had created a LEGO scene with LEGO structures and LEGO characters – but you could take photos of whatever you want to tell a story about – use stuffed animals, take photos of friends acting out a scene, etc. Once the series of photos have been taken, the app allows you to record your voice for each picture and add a music track. It comes with a number of different music tracks based on different themes or you can upload your own music. Once you've added the voice track and music, you can add a title card and end credits -- then hit the play button. Voila!  You've instantly made a movie! My boys made their first stop motion movie in about 5 minutes and had a ball doing silly voices and choosing the music to set the mood. It's really empowering to see kids use this tool and instantly -- and easily -- bring their stories to life. It's so creative, so much fun, and builds storytelling and basic video production skills in a whole new way.



What apps do you and your kids like for tapping into creativity, storytelling, and imaginative play? Share your suggestions on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.

About this blog

Scholastic Parents is a trusted source of expert advice on reading and learning. In the Learning Toolkit blog, get quick and easy tips on how to support your child’s learning at home. From playing a fun game of creating new words during dinner to solving bedtime math stories and using easy tricks to try with homework problems, this blog offers simple suggestions for supporting your child’s development at every age and every stage.

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