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Creative Kiwi app helps to tell collaborative stories in the digital age...

11 Sep 14

Children are given the power to tell their own stories and develop their literacy skills with a new app.

Imagistory is a New Zealand-developed innovative app where children ‘flip’ through the pages of images – but no text - on their iPad, and tell their own story.

The app’s lack of text means that it can be used by young children, and in any language. Stories can also be recorded and shared online.

“Apart from the educational value, Imagistory also delivers on digital awareness and promotes family time,” creator Nick Barrett says.

“It’s collaborative story-telling for the digital age. Best of all it isn’t limited to one language; parents and kids can read in Te Reo, French, Chinese - any language.”

Barrett says that because the children are interacting with the images, oral language and creative thinking skills develop. The idea came to him when he was observing his three year old niece reading a story book aloud.

“She obviously couldn’t read at that age so she was making up the story as she went along – that put the idea in my head,” he explains.

“As we developed the idea into an app it evolved to become a platform for creating, sharing and listening to stories.”

Education experts agree that picture books without words actually encourage children to be the story tellers, exposing them to more advanced language, Barrett says.

He cites a recent study in the First Language journal that found that children who shared a wordless picture book with their parents learned more, with exposure to a wider variety of words and complex language.

Barrett has been working on the concept since October 2011, when he won a business plan competition, AUT Venture Fund. Since then, the Venture Fund has invested an additional $50, 000 in Imagistory this year.

Four Imagistory books are available with the app in the iTunes store, and a further ten books are in development.

Since March of this year, a number of New Zealand libraries and schools have been trialing Imagistory.

Imagistory is a wonderful asset to the class reading programme, says Rita Langstone, a year one and two teacher from St Joseph’s School in Orakei.

“Imagistory is an excellent education tool to enrich student’s oral language, confidence and enthusiasm for learning. I have noticed a significant improvement in all my students - not only in reading but in writing as well.”