Pictures for Writing

Entries into each section on this wiki will be structured so that this basic information is available. We will include the TITLE of the application, with a link to the broad description and rating on iTunes. The ICON is simply a screen shot of what will show up on the device. WHO describes the student you have used this particular app with. WHERE indicates whether the app was used at home, school, or in therapy. HOW describes the manner in which you used it. This is also the place to elaborate on other ideas for application. WHY/WHY NOT provides the contributer an opportunity to indicate the value of the app, whether they would use it again, and rationale for the opinion. We invite anyone else who has used the app to comment on anything about it... different whos, hows and whys....


weemee avatar icon.jpg
WeeMee Avatar Creator
Description: This fun app is good for working on vocabulary such as: colors, sizes, feelings, and other describing words. Students decide on features such as: body, hair, face, shirt, etc. They then name the avatar and use it for many purposes.

Who: Fun for students who have trouble drawing, as they can create avatars for use with writing prompts.

1) Use this app to create photos that can be saved in the photo album.
  1. Choose male or female, then use language (or AAC system) to have a friend give the avatar various features, clothing, accessories, etc. You can change the color of most items and features. Be sure to add items such as food, toys, etc. to support more extensive vocabulary development.
  2. Select SAVE, then name the avatar (note: students working on name writing can write their own names using an alternative pencil, and a partner can type it in).
  3. Finish and save the avatar. Click ‘share’ to save it to images or e-mail it to use it on your computer.

Tips & Tricks:
1) Use this app to create characters to use as writing prompts. Create an avatar and share it, saving it in your photo album. Several app examples are:
a) Kid In Story: Make your avatar a ‘kid’ that the student writes about.
b) AbiliPad: Create several avatars, and use them as photos in a notepad. Students flip through photos to pick one to write about.
c) PicCollage: Save several avatars. Open them as photos in PicCollage and have students write one word about each.

Submitted by: Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Additional Ideas:
Value: This is a fantastic free app! You might want to pay to avoid the very annoying popup ads.

Pic Collage icon.jpg
Pic Collage
What: This very user-friendly app is a GREAT way to support students in quickly adding captions to photos. Features include multiple:
• backgrounds
• frames
• fonts
• text colors
• photos from camera roll, web, or camera
• videos from YouTube

Why: This very user-friendly app is a GREAT way to support students in quickly writing and creating visual text.. It is also great for helping a range of writers practice a number of skills, including writing simple captions, summarizing events in science or history, and capturing before and after information for experiments.

Who: For students who are conventional writers, they can practice their dialogue skills using photos of multiple people, including story characters. Beginning writers can write captions for personal photos. I’ve used these apps with students who use emergent writers, including students who use AAC, having them caption photos of personal events. It is a fun app for students who are beginning scribblers, because these scribbles can be celebrated through fonts and colors.

How: This app is pretty intuitive. Just:
a) Add one or more photos
b) Choose a frame
c) Add text, quickly changing font, background, and color
d) Pinch & rotate to move and re-size text
e) Add stickers
f) Save or share (via e-mail, tweet, or Facebook)

Tip: For more information, see these posts:
Emergent Writing and Pic Collage

Pic Collage and Phonics

Submitted by: Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Additional Ideas:
PicCollage words & scribble.jpg

my story app.JPG
xMy Storyx
This is a very user-friendly app to create story books. I have used it by saving pictures of activities completed with my students. The students can then write about the activity and be involved in getting the book "published" for them to share with teachers/family. The app also allows for the user to draw their own pictures for the story they created (or draw pictures and then create the story). They also have the option of writing vs. typing. Recording the story is also an option in addition to text. They become published into ibooks and are then "on the shelf" for easy [[#|access]].
I used this app with pictures of cookies students made using one of the many apps that support making cookies, (they were making cookies once a week in their [[#|cooking class]], so this activity provided a good extension of that lesson). The pictures of the cookies were then saved and imported into the My Story app. Pictures directly from app and in ibook format are below and to the right.
photo 1.jpg
Submitted by: Patty Ashby
Additional ideas/comments:
Deanna Wagner - I appreciate that this program is localized for Spanish in the US, so the menus change when you change your iPad settings.
For only 1.99, this app is definitely worth the purchase! Two things I would like to see improve: being able to increase text size and not have the drawing options showing, since many of my students started drawing over their creation to check out this option!
photo 2.jpgibook cookie.PNG
What: Toontastic is an highly motivating app for supporting oral language and writing. Students create a cartoon, using the 5-step story arc (setup, conflict, challenge, climax, resolution). The app includes characters, speech, animation, and even mood music! While the original app is _, a wide number of character sets are available. Samples include: history ([[#|American]] Revolution; women’s suffrage; civil rights); wildlife; monsters; Halloween; All Starts; Pets; Pirates, etc. Most sets include 3 characters for $ .

Who: I have used this with students who use AAC (designing the dialogue, describing the action) and with students who are struggling writers.

Where: I’ve used this in several settings, mostly small groups in communication circles and upper elementary and middle [[#|schools]]. However, it would also be a great home activity.

How: I found this app to be quite intuitive. If you need support, the ‘Parents Guide’ is quite helpful. The ? icon also brings up great tips.

Basically, students just:
1) Set the background (choose from premade scenes or draw your own)
2) Select characters, called ‘toys’ (choose from existing toys or draw your own)
3) Create an animation (move the toys, while speaking the dialogue)
4) Add the music (using icons to represent music types)
5) Repeat with additional scenes, then click done, and name the cartoon

Cartoons can be saved within the program, to be replayed, or can be shared via ToonTube.

Tips: I have supported writing in a variety of ways such as:
a) Showing possible scenes and characters and having students write their choices, in a written vote
b) Setting up a Scene Planning Form, so that students write a screenplay for each scene, then read it during the animations

Submitted by: Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Additional ideas/comments: Laura Stevenson ( says, "one of my students even created her own scenes and characters with animation. It was so much fun. Beware about deleting the app to save room on your iPad before you back up stories to iTunes."
This app is absolutely powerful and well worth the time as it supports students in:
- speaking
- device practice
- writing




Strip Design


Photo Comic
What: All of these apps let you take photos and turn them into comic strips. Each one has multiple layouts, bubbles, stickers, etc.

Why: These are great for helping a range of writers practice a number of skills, including writing simple captions, summarizing events in science or history, and honing the craft of creating dialogue.

Who: For students who are conventional writers, they can practice their dialogue skills using these apps. Beginning writers can write captions for personal photos. I’ve used these apps with students who use AAC, having them caption photos of personal events.

How: All of these apps are pretty intuitive. Typically you:
a) Pick a layout
b) Add photos
c) Choose caption bubbles
d) Add ready-made stickers
e) Save or share (via e-mail or Facebook)

Submitted by: Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Additional ideas/comments from others:

From Deanna Wagner - I also like Comic Touch. The interface is very simple and the iPhone version is free.
Value: Strip Design
This app is quite easy and very flexible. For example:
a) Many layouts are available, from a range of types (plain, dirty, film, etc)
b) Drawing is permitted within the app
c) Press the + button to get cells, bubbles. & stickers
d) The cell option allows larger text
e) The ‘Help’ section is quite, well, helpful!

Value: ComicBook! This app is quite simple and intuitive, but very powerful.
Features include:
a) Multiple layouts
b) Many bubbles, alphabet, stickers, etc
c) Ability to change font type, size, and color
d) You can add special effects to photos, with a huge range of effects
e) The help section is fantastic, with video support

Value: Photo Comic: This app has less features, and text is VERY small! Only one comic could be saved within the app. Photos could be saved to photos, then a new one could be created. I found this very easy, but not as rich or flexible as the others.


My Stuffy Bear__

What: This ‘craft’ app lets students create a bear, then post it to facebook, e-mail it, save it as a photo, etc.

Why: This app is great for targeting descriptive language.

Who: I’ve used this app for preschoolers through 6th graders – I was surprised how much the older students loved it, especially since they were ‘making’ the bears fro someone else. Targeted students included:

a) Preschoolers with speech and language disabilities

b) Older students who use AAC devices

How: For each section, the person picks from a wide range of choices. Categories include: basic bear color, facial features (ears, eyes, nose, snout); clothing (shirt, pants, bling, hat, glasses). Students work in teams, taking turns. One is the director, and the other is the picker.

Sample uses for writing include:

a) Print out your Stuffy Bear, and use it as a character in a story you write

b) Look at the Stuffy Bear and write a description;

Submitted by: Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Additional Ideas:

Value: This is an excellent low-cost app that can be used for a multitude

$ .99
Story Patch

What: This story creation app includes a number of ‘themes’, 800 + illustrations in a range of categories (e.g., animals, clothing, vehicles). It also offers a very fun ‘build-a-character’ feature, with students choosing features face & body shapes, plus the color of: skin, eyes, clothing, hair, etc. Photos from the photo library may also be used.

You can save the story within the app or save it as a PDF, and e-mail it from the app.

Why: Beyond the obvious of writing a story, this app can be used for purposeful writing and creating written descriptions of Story Patch characters.

How: Students can create a Character Plan, writing about:

• type of character (girl, boy)

• features (color of eyes, hair, etc)

• likes (loves puppies and 4 x 4 cars)

• settings (beach, park, etc)

The student can then create the character to match that plan.

Alternatively, you could play Guess My Character.

1) Each student creates a character and takes a picture of it (making the screenshot)

2) Each student writes a description of his or her character

3) Students take turns reading their character descriptions

4) Other students look at the gallery of characters and guess which one is being described

Submitted by: Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Additional Ideas / Comments:

Value: This is an excellent low-cost app that can be used for a multitude of purposes! . Great support is available at their website, including demos.



What: Clicky Sticky is a great app for creating a writing prompt because it is so motivating! It offers numerous stickers that you can drag down and place on a scene. Stickers have animations and sound effects, and can be resized or rotated to create a picture.

Who: I used it at a 1:1 session with an 8-year-old boy who is an emergent writer. He's interested in many of the stickers on Clicky Sticky (jets, dinosaurs, outer space), so they are personally meaningful to him. Since he doesn't make representational drawings using crayons and paper, this was a fantastic alternative.

How: We used the program to create a scene, which we imported into a writing tool. Here are the steps we used:
a) Create the scene, using Clicky Sticky
b) Press the arrow, then either e-mail the drawing to your main computer, or save it in photos
c) Use the photo as a writing prompt for a program such as: Classroom Suite, Story Buddy

Submitted by: Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Additional ideas/comments from others:
This very inexpensive app is well worth it. I find it useful for a variety of reasons, but using Clicky Sticky as a writing prompt is fantastic.

It's a great opportunity for students who are in classrooms with the task of making a drawing, then writing about it. The range of scenes in the inexpensive version gives many opportunities for writing (Oceans, Vehicles, Dressups, Outer Space, Animals, and Dinosaurs).
$ .99


What:Story Buddy is a great app for creating stories because it is both easy and motivating! This app supports students in illustrating and creating text for a simple story. It is very easy to import photos that have been saved in the photo album. The story can be e-mailed to a base computer or exported to another reading program.

Who: I have used this with several students in 1:1 and small group sessions. It's great for students who are beginning writers. For one student, he typed his text into a laptop, using Big Keys, and I transcribed it into the story, since the iPad has a very small keyboard. Tip: This program is ideal for older students who are writing stories for younger students. It supports struggling writers in creating text at their own level, without being embarrassed because the program looks 'babyish'.

How: We have used the programs in three ways:
1) Create the scene, using the drawing tools in StoryBuddy
2) Import a photo from the photo album
3) Create a scene in another app, and save in the photo album. Examples are:
a) ClickySticky: a 'sticker' program with multiple sticker sets (planes, dressups, dinosaurs). Save directly to photo album.
b) Faces I Make Lite: Use stickers to create funky faces to write about. Save to the gallery, then the photo album.

Saving your story - we've used two options:
a) E-mail the story to yourself (appears as a .pdf)
b) Export the story to another program. For example, I exported to Stanza, where it is easy to read as a multi-page story, using swipe to turn pages.

Submitted by: Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Additional ideas/comments from others: After only a 6 minute orientation, the teacher from one of my multi-handicapped classrooms made two books for a student who was going in for surgery the next day: one social story and one get-well story with photos (and recordings) of all the students and their wishes for a speedy recovery.
Submitted by: Deanna Wagner

Additional ideas/comments from others:
This app is not free, but well worth it. Students are motivated to create stories, using a variety of methods for illustrating the stories.

Note: For many students, the keyboard on the iPad will be far too small. Here are a couple of 'work-arounds.'
a) Student drites the story (dictate writing, using speech or a communication device); this should be used only occasionally, as students should learn to use the ALPHABET to write!
b) Student uses an alternate keyboard attached to the iPad, which can be set at an angle, etc.
c) Student uses an alternate keyboard (e.g., IntelliKeys, Big Keys) attached to a computer or laptop to enter text. Partner then transcribes text into the iPad.
$ 3.99
Christmasfy Me
I used this app in self contained classrooms with students varying from early grades to middle school. The students absolutely loved this app. I projected this app onto a white board so all of the children were involved and stayed on task while other students took their turn.

The app starts off by using either an existing picture or taking a picture to use. I had each student come up to the iPad for his/her picture to be taken. Of course, they all loved this! Once the picture was taken the app provides two choices to either "retake" or "use." Of course we had to use the "retake" picture quite a few times! Once you choose "use," the picture is automatically shown on the screen with pictures to choose from to decorate the picture. The kids learned lots of new words, such as pipe, holly, berries, custard, etc. The app facilitated a lot of spontaneous language and laughter. The students could make items bigger or smaller, and place them anywhere around the screen.

I saved each picture into the photo file. I then printed them out and the students made Christmas cards using their picture to give as gifts. The writing the pictures facilitated was wonderful!

I will be looking for these types of apps for the upcoming holidays! I also plan to use these types of apps for students giving and following directions with each other.

Submitted by: Patty Ashby SLP
Ideas from others:
This app is free! It was so user friendly and easy for the students to follow.
Puppet Pals HD
What: Puppet Pals HD is a great app for creating and sharing a puppet show.
Who: I have used this with a communication circle including 6th grade girls. I feel that this would interest people at a wide range of ages, from preschool through adult, as the shows can be quite simple or very complex.
a. Taking Turns: this app lends itself well to each student creating a line of dialogue, then adding it.
b. Using Core Vocabulary: I used this app to support a student who is learning and using core vocabulary (those high frequency words that we use over and over, in every situation), such as ‘He is going to hurt the pretty girl!!’
c. Talking About Emotions, Actions, and Describing Words: This app can also be used for exploring a wide range of vocabulary, from actions to emotions, to describing words, to prepositions (see write-ups in other sections on this wiki!)
Where: I used this in a school setting in a group of four students. I would recommend using it for 2 – 4 students, unless you have a way to project the iPad.
How: Basically, you follow this approach:
a) Choose characters
b) Choose backgrounds
c) Write your dialogue
d) Record the actions AND dialogue simultaneously
e) Note: Characters not in the background ‘box’ are ‘offstage’ for that scene. Thus, in the picture below, the two pirates are onstage, and the good fairy is offstage.
f) Note: The curtain pulls indicate which scene you are currently developing. In the photo below, there are three scenes, and we are currently working on the first scene.

TIP: Since I am not a ‘digital native’ I did not find this app to be intuitive, so I missed some of the possibilities on my first try! I then went looking for instructions. While I didn’t find a ‘manual’ I found something MUCH better: this video tutorial!! It’s short but very helpful!
Video Tutorial
Submitted by: Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Additional ideas/comments from others:
Value: This is a fantastic value!!

This is a free app, which comes only with the Wild West characters and backgrounds. I paid for the upgrade to the Director’s Pass for $2.99, which was worth every penny. That includes multiple character sets (arthropod, fairytale, monsters, farm, pirates) and multiple backgrounds to accompany each character set (or you can mix and match). Other sets are available, and I suspect that the students will talk me into them (Christmas, entertainers, fair-weather friends, political par-tay).

What: This app has a very simple interface for uploading your photos to the Flickr site and making comments on the photos of your Flickr/Yahoo contacts. You can then e-mail or post to Facebook to invite even more comments.
Who: It is a tool that can be used by a wide audience.
Where: We used it at an adult Day Program with a small group of AAC users.
How: I posted a picture from the previous week's cooking activity using my iPad and they could sign in on the computers in the lab to make comments. We modeled at the SmartBoard for the whole group and they were able to later work on their own to add comments.
Just follow this link to see and comment on our photo:

Submitted by: Deanna K. Wagner, MS/CCC-SLP
Additional ideas/comments:
Value: I think the free app from Flickr is enough for basic uploads and comments. You can also get 2nd party apps for the iPad that allow for more options, especially with regards to grouping photos. On the Flickr website I was able to make sets, share on Facebook and pin to Pinterest. I couldn't figure out how to pin it from the iPhone.