At the school I work at we have a recommended apps list attached to our BYOD agreement that goes out to parents in the relevant years. None of the apps are enforced downloads, they are merely my suggested list of those constructivist apps that we often highlight here on the site too (see our Redefining the Task ebooks for examples.)
A couple of weeks ago, a parent asked me about one in particular - Morfo. She couldn't quite see the educational benefit of it. I could understand why since Morfo isn't technically an educational app. However, as I outlined way back in my very first article here on the site, Morfo can be a powerful tool for inspiring writing. Anything that allows kids to actually become a character can really help them to see from another perspective. It's vastly superior to just giving them a picture of a character. You also end up with a superb visual to stick into a book alongside the writing or add to a multimedia presentation.
So I got to thinking recently about some of the other photo booth apps I've fiddled around with and thought it'd be a nice idea for an article if I shared some of the better ones I've come across (there are a LOT to sift through in the App Store) and suggest ways that they could be harnessed to inspire creative writing.
Hopefully the rest of the iPad Educators team won't mind me using their headshots for my examples! :)
Zombie Booth HD
Perfect for the lead up to Halloween, this is my pick of the plethora of "Zombie Yourself" apps available. Whilst some photo booth apps only generate a picture, this one actually produces an animated effect where the zombie you will follow you finger around the screen and groan authentically.
Obviously I wouldn't suggest this to be used with younger kids as the effects are quite gruesome but with reluctant teenage (boy) writers, this could make a hugely engaging stimulus for a horror story.
Another good option is the official Walking Dead zombie app, though that does create a still image only.
I bet many of you have played with this one or something similar? Simply insert your picture and watch yourself age beyond your years!
Allowing kids to see themselves made old is a brilliant story concept. How would they behave differently? How would the process affect their movement? It's a great prompt for getting them to think from a different perspective.
PS Combo this with the Bald Booth app for a double whammy effect.
A free tool from the Open University, this app allows you to see yourself devolved into a prehistoric monkey man! This could be used as a stimulus for a time travel story or perhaps the tale of an experiment gone wrong. Planet of the Apes anyone?
Uses beyond story writing naturally would include discussion of Evolution. You could have students print a current image and a devolved one for a comparative descriptive piece too.
Cyborg Photo Booth
You may recognise this one if you read my article entitled Rise of the iToddlers as I used it to create the logos with pictures of my two young daughters!
With this app which is similar to the zombie one, you can apply a selection of robotic effects to a portrait image. Naturally this is one I'm suggested as a stimulus for a science fiction story. Perhaps an accident in the future leads them to be turned into a cyborg a la Robocop? Could be that their mind is fed into a computer.
Simple but very effective this one. Overlay the image of an animal's head onto your own. There's a wide range to choose from and more that are downloadable as in app purchases.
Perhaps this is the result of an experiment gone wrong like The Fly? Perhaps you were born with the power to change into different animals or take on their attributes? I'd recommend staging a scene if you use this one rather than just using a headshot portrait. Get some other students in the image reacting to this shocking metamorphosis.
Another idea could be to adapt Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream for the modern day and have a student transformed a la Bottom with the head of an animal!
A little different to a traditional booth app but I felt that it warranted inclusion (no pun intended) as it can also be used for story stimuli generation.
Whether it be a classic cowboy style wanted poster or a more modern one, this app makes for a quick and easy tool in the classroom.
What's great is that you get to control the text that appears on the poster too, without having to spend time on layout or formatting. Options include the culprit's name, crime, bounty value and the name of those looking for them.
Want a more modern take on the wanted poster? This is another great (free) offering from the Open University. Again, not technically a booth app but I felt it deserved inclusion.
What's brilliant about this police-style photofit maker is that it really is challenging to try and make someone specific. It highlights the differences that small details like the size of a nose can make to a face.
Have kids create themselves or just design a character to play the villain in a story. I used it a couple of years back to design villains for stories in the style of Roald Dahl.
By the way, that's not one of the iPad Educators team to the right. It's my attempt at Andre the Giant. :)
There are LOADS more booth style apps out there for you to play around with of course. Try to look for ones with a free or lite version before dropping money on them though as the quality can vary wildly. If you do come across one that you think could be a winner as a story stimulus, get in touch and let us know!
Santa Booth anyone? Anyone?