25+ Apps and Tools to Create Colorful Learning Experiences for Children

“Artists are just children who refuse to put down their crayons.”  ~ Al Hirschfeld

When I first began teaching children, I rarely used coloring activities, because some parents and teachers do not think it is a valuable way to learn a language. However, children love to color and draw. Throughout the years, I have found it to be a valuable teaching technique with many benefits. Children develop motor skills and learn about patterns, symmetry, etc. Coloring also helps children imagine and visualize a context for new vocabulary. Additionally, coloring helps teachers manage classroom behavior. Children need sit down and rest activities after a game or dancing and coloring activities are perfect to create a balance. Below are a few free tools and ideas to make sure your coloring activities provide meaningful language learning. 

Colorful Web 2.0 Activities

When I discovered digital storytelling, I found online tools and mobile apps that provided a platform for meaningful learning while coloring and drawing. The children could use these free tools to enhance their drawings and colorings with multimedia.

  • Create animations online with ABCya’s animation tool! Kids will enjoy creating characters that come to life. They can add text or simple sentences to transform their drawings into engaging stories. These are saved as gifs. Ideas: recreate a scene in the book, draw the interactions of two characters, draw what happens before or after the story, or sketch out a historic event.

  • Scoot & Doodle - Students connect with other students worldwide in a Google Hangout. Students work collaboratively with drawing tools to problem solve, brainstorm, create digital stories, solve puzzles, and more.

  • Little Bird Tales - Students can draw their own art or upload images to create a book where they add their voice and text to narrate their stories. Then they can embed and create PDFs and MP4s of their stories. Available for i-devices for $2.99 but the web tool allows for the creation of free stories.

  • Buncee - Free web tool and iPod/iPad app that creates interactive posters and comics with a library of stickers, backgrounds, audio, images, animation, and video. Super easy to use and embeds. Students can also draw on this blank canvas and add audio.

  • Kerpoof - Create a story with a template. Students choose what kind of plotline, then choose from a variety of characters. Also has options for creating a movie, drawing a picture, or making an ecard.

  • Voicethread - Access it through your browser or on the iPad. I have my students upload their drawings for collaborative storytelling with another class. Others can comment through doodling, text, video, or audio. Check out my Diigo bookmarks for lesson ideas. You can choose your own adventures or a chain story.

  • Infuse Learning - This tool works on all computers and mobile devices. The teacher asks a question that is answered by students’ drawings. For example, the teacher can ask students to draw animals that live in the rainforest, words that start with a consonant, types of landforms, and so much more!

  • Bring students’ colorings to life with a tool like Blabberize that allows them to add mouths to their drawings which are animated and talk. They can practice their pronunciation skills, vocabulary, idioms, chants, songs, and more!

  • Create a Google Doodle! Free lesson plan and ideas on their website.

  • Shidonni is a virtual world for kids in which their drawings come to life.

  • Drawing for Children is a free software program you can download and use offline.

Mobile Apps

Try any of these cool apps to get your learners problem-solving, drawing, and coloring with their mobile devices.

  • ColAR - IOS and Android app. Kids color animals, shapes, and more with a template the teacher has printed. Afterwards, they hold their devices and watch the colored images come to life on their desks. This uses augmented reality.

  • DoInk - Free IOS app to create animations and drawings.

  • Comics Head - IOS and Android app to make comics. Best one in my opinion that allows adding your own images along with their library of characters, backdrops, and more.

  • Educreations - Interactive whiteboard on your browser and a free app on the iPad that allows students and teachers to create videos of work or lessons. It acts as a screencast. Draw, add images, and record audio to narrate. Watch an example here.

  • Drawing Torch - (iPad) Drawing and story experience where the student becomes a Night Zookeeper and participates in creative drawing missions to look after thousands of magical animals and defeat the monsters that attack the zoo. Features: 9 tools such as fill, color mixing and multiple brush sizes, email share, 2 story chapters, and 22 unique missions.

  • StoryKit - (i-devices) Create an electronic storybook by drawing on the screen, uploading images, recording sound effects and voice, laying out the elements of the story (text boxes, images, paint, and sound clips) freely by dragging them or pinching to resize, reordering pages, and uploading to the StoryKit web server. Email a link to the story. The application includes four public domain children’s books to rewrite and rearrange into a new story. Available on the iPad and iPod.

  • Draw My Story - (iPad) Kids are given the setting of a short story, then asked to fill in the characters and components for the stories with their drawings.

  • Draw a Stickman Adventures - Children immerse themselves in a story adventure in which they draw a stickman then solve puzzles and meet challenges through drawing. This app is good for older children around 10 and up. The free version has ads.

  • Skqueak - (i-devices) Add voice, drawings, and zoom to your photos.

  • A Magic Paintbrush - (Android/ IOS) Color any of the characters then watch them come to life. Ideas: have students work in pairs and describe what the characters are doing. You can also get them to answer questions about their characters’ routines, name, hobbies, talents, etc.

  • How to Draw - (Android/ IOS) Walks students through drawing various creatures, animals, people, and monsters on their mobile devices. Ideas: integrate the drawings into a story or game.

  • Paint Sparkles - (Android/ IOS) Draw with colors that sparkle. Also blends colors and has different tools.

  • Zoodle - (i-devices) Create a comic with pictures, captions, and drawings.

  • Popplet web/IOS App - This browser base app provides collaborative mindmapping. Students can support text with images from Flickr or Youtube videos. They can upload their own images or create a drawing. Embeddable.

  • Drawp is a free iPad app in which kids create a drawing to send to a relative or friend who provides voice comments and adds to the drawing then sends it back.

Tips

  • While drawing, circle around the room and ask students about the characters and objects. I often ask my 4 to 6 year-olds what color is his/her hair? What is his/her name? This provides me with feedback to what vocabulary they have learned. I can also correct some errors.

  • Play music while they draw and color. I play a music list of the songs and chants we do in the classroom. They often sing the words while coloring.

  • Have them work in pairs so they will talk about and describe their drawings and colorings.

  • Color with a purpose. Tie drawings and colorings to vocabulary or a story you are reading. Use them for stories, puppet shows, fingerplays, or flashcards.

  • If you have learning stations, consider having a drawing and coloring station. You can create a deck of cards with drawing challenges.

  • Use a timer to get students to finish their drawings or coloring within a short time. They can always finish at home or at a later time.

  • Pictionary is a great game to play to revise vocabulary. Students work in groups. One student draws a vocabulary word or phrase on a flip chart. The group tries to guess before time runs out.

What other ideas do you have?

Try some of Sprout English’s coloring activities! The new Find the Object series, found in the Paper Games section of the Games Room, allows students to learn vocabulary while coloring. New worksheets will be added monthly. There are also over 100 coloring activities featuring popular kids’ themes like Animals, Sports, and Outer Space in the Color Mart.

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is the author of Learning To Go and The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators. She is also an adjunct professor, teacher trainer, and international speaker. She has trained teachers in over 25 countries and is a founder of the Bammy Award-winning #Edchat, the ELTON-nominated ELTChat, and The Reform Symposium E-Conference. She is the host of American TESOL’s Free Friday Webinars and shares regularly via TeacherRebootCamp.com, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/shellyterrell, and Google.com/+ShellySanchezTerrell. She has taught toddlers to adults English in various countries including the US, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, and Greece.

9 Responses to “25+ Apps and Tools to Create Colorful Learning Experiences for Children”

  1. Colorful Learning with 20+ Web Tools & Apps : Teacher Reboot Camp

    [...] Drawing and coloring is a great way to get students to brainstorm about a topic, organize a group project, or contribute scenes to a digital story. For young learners, drawing and coloring offers them a way to learn patterns, symmetry, and develop motor skills. Below is my recent slide presentation with lesson ideas, free web tools and apps. After the presentation, you’ll see the bookmarks. Just click on the title to visit that link. There are over 25 links! Keep scrolling. Here’s a recent article I did on the topic, 25+ Ways to Create Colorful Learning Experiences for Kids. [...]

    Reply
  2. Colorful Learning with 20+ Web Tools & Apps : Teacher Reboot Camp

    [...] Drawing and coloring are great ways to get students to brainstorm about a topic, organize a group project, or contribute scenes to a digital story. For young learners, drawing and coloring offers them a way to learn patterns, symmetry, and develop motor skills. Below is my recent slide presentation with lesson ideas, free web tools and apps. After the presentation, you’ll see the bookmarks. Just click on the title to visit that link. There are over 25 links! Keep scrolling. Here’s a recent article I did on the topic, 25+ Ways to Create Colorful Learning Experiences for Kids. [...]

    Reply
  3. Riana

    Very, very interesting. Can’t wait to introduce it to the children. thanks Shelly.

    Reply

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