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exclusive Keeping the learning going at home: digital storytelling tips for parents amid school shutdown

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PDST is a Department of Education and Skills support service.

PDST is a Department of Education and Skills support service.

PDST is a Department of Education and Skills support service.

Parents are recognised as the first educators of their children and bring a unique value to their learning experiences, but the extended shutdown of schools brings new challenges and opportunities, while helping children to explore their passions and new ideas.

In this series, specially written for Independent.ie, the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), offers some valuable pointers to parents across a range of different learning areas.

PDST is a Department of Education and Skills support service.

In last week's edition, the PDST shared tips on how to make the most out of reading time.

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PDST logo

PDST logo

PDST logo

One of the simplest and most rewarding things that parents can do with their children is to read with them or encourage them to take up a book. Apart from the way stories feed children’s imagination, reading brings well-documented educational benefits.

The latest addition to the series is Digital Storytelling: Bringing Creativity and Learning to Life at Home, which guides parents in supporting their children in discovering how to combine video, images, voice, text and music to tell a story.

Introduction

“Everybody’s got a different way of telling a story and has different stories to tell”. (Keith Richards)

Digital Storytelling combines the tradition of storytelling with digital technology. It is a way for children to create stories using video, images, voice, text and music.

It allows children to personalise stories, share information and ideas and add their own creative touches. It can be based on personal experiences or areas of interest. These stories, once created can be shared digitally with the entire family.

Ideas / Where do I find reliable sources of information?

The first step in creating a digital story is coming up with an idea. Children might think about creating a story on a topic of interest, to reflect a day in their lives or interview family members about their experiences.

An exploration of the back garden or the local area, documenting events in the home such as a ‘Great Home Bake Off’ or a project like cleaning or decorating a room may spark inspiration.

If a child is creating a story about a topic of interest, they may want to go online to research information. It is important to use reliable sources of information such as:

  • Worldbook Online (via Scoilnet.ie)
  • DKFindout.com

How do I plan my story?

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While digital storytelling implies a focus on technology, an engaging digital story cannot exist without creative writing. Start by jotting down some ideas and discuss these with other family members. Challenge children to expand word choices and encourage them to use a dictionary or thesaurus.

The next step is to translate the written story into a visual map using a storyboard. Storyboards are used to plan all the elements that will appear in the digital story, such as music, dialogue, text, photos, and video. Storyboards help storytellers to picture the entire piece from start to finish. A simple script can then be written to help children structure their scenes.

What do I do before creating my digital story?

Before creating the digital story, it is important to source props and costumes. Props are used to bring the characters to life and to convey a sense of time and place in the story. For example, if a story is set in a restaurant, certain items from the kitchen can be used to show that.

Props help the story come alive, and help viewers activate their imagination. Use whatever props are available around the house or create these using recycled materials or old clothes. Before filming begins, prepare the scene by setting up the props and rehearsing the story.

How do I record and edit my digital story?

Recording the digital story can be simply achieved by using the camera of any device at home (cameras/ tablets/ phones). Ensure that the device is used in landscape mode when recording as this will help when editing footage.

It’s also a good idea to place the device on a solid surface to avoid shaky shots. Once the video footage and still images needed are captured, the editing process can begin.

There are a variety of easy-to-use film editing websites and apps available to collate photographs and video clips into a short film.

Some widely used options include (but are not limited to): iMovie, WeVideo, FilmoraGo, Adobe Spark Video and Video Pad. When editing using such software, children can easily import images and videos from the camera roll/ desktop, add narration and include backing tracks, music and special effects to infuse creativity into their digital story.

Where can I get more information?

www.fisfilmproject.ie: Here, you’ll find step-by-step tutorial videos, examples of children’s digital stories and information about how to enter the annual PDST/IADT Fís Film competition.

www.digitalstories.ie: This is a useful repository of filming and editing websites/ apps that filmmakers of any age can use to create a digital story.

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PDST Fís website

PDST Fís website

PDST Fís website

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