Bottom Line: A simple interface for kids and their parents to make narrated slideshows. It has many applications for education in addition to being highly entertaining.
If you would like to have as much fun as Heather playing with an app, download SonicPics ($2.99 iPad/iPhone) using the Smart Apps for Kids approved link:
I love when I open a new app and my first words are "that's brilliant!" This is exactly what I said about SonicPics by Humble Daisy, Inc. It's designed to "give voice to your pictures," but useful for parents and educators in so many ways. This dynamite addition to my app collection also happened to turn two yesterday.
The app is so simple to use, I didn't even seek out a tutorial. It's as easy as choosing a title, adding pictures, and narrating the pictures while scrolling through. In less than five minutes, I created a simple book to address irregular past tense verbs, something I often target in my therapy sessions. It took me a bit longer (15 minutes) to create a project using photos from Christmas, but only because I got distracted on Facebook as I went to save the pictures from Facebook to my Photo Stream. The photo picker tool lets you add multiple photos at once which is very helpful.
There are, of course, many apps you can use to create social stories that are similar to SonicPics. What I like most about SonicPics is simply the ease of use and ability to incorporate it into both my professional and personal life. I have good intentions to use many of the other apps in my therapy work, but if it takes too long to put it together, I will never finish it (hey look, a squirrel!). This app is simple and quick, and I have already made a list of the numerous ways I will use it:
- Write a "descriptions book" with each student describing a picture.
- Make directions to complete a craft project—take pictures of each step, then narrate what to do.
- Take "A day in the Life" photos of one of our days; have the kids narrate it to send to the grandparents.
- Have students working on speech sound production record a sentence about each picture, targeting specific sounds.
- Make how-to videos for other educators about the iPad and apps.
- Have students tell a sequential story, taking turns building off the previous picture and narration.
- Have a student take pictures of their day, narrate it, and send it to their family.
- Write simple social stories.
- Take pictures of the key pages in a book and practice story retell.
I am not normally quite so effusive about an app, so I made an effort to go back to look for any faults. Instead, I found more features to like. After finishing a project's recording, the file can be shared in multiple ways: by email, sent to YouTube, saved directly to the iPad Photo Library, or (best part), sent to the computer—if the computer and the iPad are on the same network. This option was very fast, and the hardest part was typing the generated web address, which wasn't hard at all.
There is even a pause button within the recording, making it easier to use with more than one child. After the first child responds, I pause it and pass the iPad on, continuing until all pictures are narrated. Up to sixty minutes of narration is allowed.
There were a few small areas where improvement would make it even more amazing. It would be nice to share directly to Facebook—since very young children are unlikely to use it independently, security concerns are lessened. However, it's easy enough to save the video to the photo library or to YouTube, so this is a minor issue.
I also find the use of text somewhat limited. The project and individual photos can be named with text, but there is not an option for adding labels on the photos themselves. Ideally, a text box could be inserted onto each photo. This provides accessibility for all kinds of students, and helps develop literacy in young children. It would be a great addition to a future update. Also, it would be very helpful to be able to erase a particular section of the narration and start again—as it currently stands, if a student messes up on the final picture in a 10-picture slideshow, the whole recording would need to be started over. EduCreations has this same drawback.
There are certainly plenty of apps available to write stories about pictures. Many of them have more features than SonicPics. But for ease of use (it's simple) and price (very reasonable at $2.99), I think SonicPics is an app to consider. After my first try, it became my favorite app for storytelling, both in therapy and for my kids. I may even get inspired and work my way through that bullet list.
Heather Hetler is currently wishing for a bigger iPad in order to have room to take more pictures to turn into SonicPics slideshows. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.