Out of this world writing!

Processed with Snapseed.Ominous alien moons hovering in the sky above your school. Strange creatures walking through the corridor and prehistoric monsters hiding in the playground. Who wouldn’t be inspired to write!

This idea follows on from my previous blog on inspiring children to write by using the fabulous Pixomatic app. However this will focus mainly on using the children’s immediate environment as the setting for a possible Sci-fi story.

1) Get the children to take some photographs of their surroundings. Initially these would need to be panoramic views of the school and its buildings, however once the children get the idea they can be as imaginative as possible. Stress to the children that you want three to four good quality shots. Remind them that the iPad is not simply a camera it is a photo editing tool. You should expect the children to immediately edit and evaluate the photos they have taken. Delete the ones they don’t need and edit the ones they’re happy with using the iPads built in tools. You don’t want hundreds of images clogging up your iPads!

2) Once back inside put a sample picture on the board. Here is an example of the side of a building and some sky. Although not a bad shot it certainly looks a little bland. I won’t be winning any prizes with this one!


3) Import your image into the app Snapseed and simply apply the ‘drama’ filter to make it look far more imposing and menacing. Like this –


Suddenly everything about the image appears far more vibrant and interesting. It already lends itself to some high quality writing. At this point get the children to focus on various aspects of the image, beginning to pool their descriptive ideas.

4) Next open up an app called ‘AlienSky’ and import your image. The AlienSky app has lots of Sci-Fi type effects that you are able to add. I would give the children time to investigate this app and all it has to offer. Here’s an example.

Processed with Snapseed.

Suddenly we have an alien moon that has appeared on the horizon and a strange flare has erupted in the sky! What could this mean? Why might the moon be there? What could the flare be? Why are the birds flying away?

Now the children will be able to write the opening to their story. This could be in their English Books, on an iPad or PC or into an app like Book Creator or Comic Life. They could also import their unique images into iMovie and use the ‘Ken Burns’ effect to spotlight one part of the picture and slowly pan out while the children record their stories over the top (as Pie Corbett models). The possibilities are endless.

5) You could extend this further by using an app such as ‘123D Creature Show’. With this app we can create aliens that can then be added to any photo we take. Here I’ve made one walk through the corridor! You could have children standing talking to it, or maybe it’s hiding behind a crash mat in assembly waiting to leap out!


Although I’ve stressed the importance of using their own photographs, any of this could indeed be done by getting a picture of a famous landmark and using that instead.

The important thing is the children begin to see how easy it is to create their own professional looking content and then use it to inspire their writing. If this is in a digital format then it can immediately be placed onto your school website, giving it a potentially global audience. I’d also recommend you check out a resource called ‘TrilbyTV’ which is another simple way to showcase digital work to your school community and beyond. I’ve already blogged about Trilby TV here so please check that out too.


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