Review: Playschool Art Maker on the iPad


After reading Jones’ (2012) experience with this application in a Kindergarten classroom at Wiley Park Public School, we decided to have a play with the app ourselves in class.

From the get go, the app has a very inviting interface that is easy to navigate and intuitive to use. Clicking on menu items results in the pages of the menu flipping over, reminiscent of a traditional story book which students’ are familiar with as well as short voiceovers from Playschool hosts to prompt students. The app allows you to record animations using the Playschool characters and scenes with voice recording for oral narration as you record.

With minimal scaffolding, young children will be able to create and record their own individual creations after playing and exploring the app themselves. It provides an introduction to storyboarding, scenes, character creation and drama. It can be used to retell a story or for students to create their own stories based on something they have recently read or experienced. With retelling, students can be encouraged to visualise what they have just read and translate it into the app as a digital story which enables them to create meaning and develop their visual and oral literacy. This can then be further developed with the introduction of elements of a story with introduction, complication, climax and resolution through scaffolding using the storyboard.

We also had a play with the Toontastic app which was not as intuitive as the Playschool Art Maker but included a very useful scaffold in a Story Arc and the ability for students to create their own characters that move around the screen.


Using iPads in Literacy Development


Jones’ (2012) article iPads and kindergarten – students’ literacy development raises a number of important points in development of literacy in young children. Whilst new technology can provide a medium for literacy development, traditional use of oral language is a key element in development of reading and comprehension. The use of iPads can facilitate this as it enables a complex form of socio-dramatic play which is shown to vastly improve language development (Miller & Almon, 2009 as cited in Jones, 2012).

Children are also increasingly coming to school with a virtual backpack of knowledge and skills in the use of new technology such as iPads and touchscreen devices. Traditional forms of play using new technology and symbolic images, rather than the traditional concrete toys are also becoming increasingly common as children treat symbolic play a screen the same way as manipulation of concrete materials (Verenikina & Herrington, 2008 as cited in Jones, 2009).

Engagement is also a crucial factor as students are able to make connections to familiar situations where they are able to make meaning through the use of familiar technology and content, such as the  idea of Playschool characters in the Playschool Art Maker iPad app.

We will now have a look at the Playschool Art Maker app on the iPad and review a number of other useful apps that can be applied to children’s literacy development. Stay tuned!


Jones, M. (2012). iPads and kindergarten – students’ literacy development, SCAN, 31(4), 31-40



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Mini IWB Lesson on The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan for Stage 2 (Year 4)

Activity: This activity allows students to interactively develop an understanding of visual literacy in showing how pictures portray emotions to the reader.

Aim: To consider how visual features depict an emotional aspect of the character.


  • The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan (picture book)
  • The Lost Thing (short film – if available)
  • IWB Notebook File


  • After reading the picture book or watching the short film (or both), pose the question – ‘How do pictures create/convey feelings?’. Ask students to think/pair/share and discuss their thoughts on this. Get students to share their thoughts and then get students to come up to the IWB to match words/phrases to pictures from the book/film and explain why they think that picture conveys that feeling.
  • Extend the activity to include discussion on visual angles, colour and image composition using the next few slides where students construct modelled sentences and discuss their responses with the class as they come to the IWB.
  • This activity can be further extended by adding additional IWB slides on other visual literacy techniques that are used to convey feelings in images.