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My StoryMaker
Digital Storytelling for Young Students



My StoryMaker is an online story creation tool developed by Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center for the Carnegie Pittsburg Library.

Teaching creative writing becomes a fun part of the day with this resource. It allows children to select and control characters and objects as they use them to build a story. A title and then sentences are created for them based on the characters and objects they have selected for their story. Children may also write their own sentences.

The automatic creation of words and sentences makes this Web 2.0 teaching tool a great digital storytelling site for young children not yet adept at spelling and writing sentences. Teaching creative writing to the youngest students becomes a breeze!

The action and interaction features of My StoryMaker entertain and motivate young children to try the many different story options.

For example, a child can select an apple from the objects area and drag it close to the character. After selecting the action for eating, the character will then appear to eat the apple through animation. Unfortunately the animation is lost once the story is complete. The story appears only as still pictures.

This site is designed to be used with the Internet Explorer browser and uses somewhat older technology. Be sure to read the Help page for important information.

Once the student feels the story is complete, he clicks on the "End" tab in the upper right corner of the staging area. The option of sharing a story or not sharing a story is given.

Shared stories are "published" and the student is given a number code to re-access their story or to share with others - classmates, parents, grandparents, etc. These stories provide a great first example of digital storytelling by young writers!

The story remains available online for one month. Stories can be saved and printed in a .pdf format.


21st Century Skills

Effective communication skills are developed as students learn about plot structure and key story elements to tell a cohesive story.
The many different characters, objects, settings, and actions inspire creativity in the young storyteller.

In the Classroom

This Web 2.0 teaching tool is a great way to introduce the youngest students just learning to read and write to digital storytelling. Early literacy skills can be developed as children see their ideas emerge as sentences related to the onscreen images they create.

Students learn about the different elements of a story as they select characters, setting and decide what is going to happen.

Sequencing skills are practiced as children decide what comes next in the their story, and then what happens after that.

An interactive white board can be used with a whole group activity to introduce students to creating a story using this site. They can take turns choosing a setting, characters and actions, as well as reading sentences.

Second and third graders can create their own stories in a computer lab setting. Using the unique access codes for each story, students can then share their stories with the whole class.

The little "Story Helper" character in the bottom right corner gives tips for how to progress with the story when it is clicked. These prompts encourage higher order thinking skills such as problem solving and creative thinking.

Sharing their stories with the class gives students an authentic audience for their writing and practice reading aloud.

Here is a digital storytelling lesson plan using My StoryMaker for Grade 1 that focuses on story elements.

Lesson Idea for Grades 3+ - Begin by reading aloud Boris Ate A Thesaurus by Neil Steven Klayman. Have students practice locating synonyms for words such as ran, very, nice, etc. using an elementary thesaurus. After students create a story using My StoryMaker, they will enhance their stories by substituting and adding more descriptive verbs,
adverbs, and adjectives using the thesaurus.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

This Web 2.0 teaching tool addresses several of the elementary Common Core Standards in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language.

  • Reading - 1. Describe the overall structure of a story, including how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action. 2. Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
  • Writing - 1. Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal order, and provide some sense of closure. 2. With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.
  • Speaking and Listening - Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.
  • Language - Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.


Safety Concerns

The "share" feature in My StoryMaker is great for classroom use or even sharing with parents and grandparents. Since it is done with a unique number code rather than a name, institution, or email, it is quite secure as far as identity protection.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburg's website states that any content created in My StoryMaker can be used for promotional purposes. When the user enter their name, they can choose a fake name or only use their first name. This is the only personal information that is collected.

Each story that is completed can be accessed online for one month by using a number code assigned to that story. The only people who can access a user's completed story are those who have the special number code for that story which makes it a fairly secure online student authoring tool.

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