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Digital Learning Projects for Tech Savvy Kids

Creative ways for techy kids to express themselves.

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Sick of the amount of time your kids are spending on video games this summer? When boredom strikes, give your digitally-charmed youngster a summertime project that enhances their technical skills while also fostering their creativity.

Direct a movie
Kids love to play with video. Show them applications like iMovie (Mac), which gives them an opportunity to choose templates, edit, add audio, and share their short films. Slo-mo and time-lapse are also fun video features on many smartphones. Using time-lapse, my kids like to record themselves cleaning up their room. They get a kick out of going back and watching the process in fast-forward. (That’s a win for parents too!)
Write a digital storybook
Introduce your young storyteller to Storybird.com which features illustrations that kids can use for story inspiration. They can write and design picture books, long-form stories, or poetry. Subscription-based monthly writing challenges also help boost a child’s literacy skills. Young authors may choose to keep their work private, publish it to Storybird’s public library, share it on social media, email it to friends and family, or print off the books for special keepsakes or gifts. Other sites include BookCreator.com or InkSpire.org, which encourages youth between the ages of 14 and 29 to share their stories, thoughts, and ideas with others.
Play with music
From GarageBand (Mac) for older kids to CreatingMusic.com for younger ones, turn kids on to playing around with pitch, tone, and rhythm. Also, check out Incredibox and Fun2Think.
Start a family newspaper
My 13-year-old son likes to write up short “ripped from the headlines” news briefs, family news, and car advertisements. He also draws cartoons for a “funnies” section. He prefers to use Google Docs so that he can easily email or print his paper, but Word or Pages (Mac) also offer templates for newsletters.
Create a digital photo book
Ask your kids for help in putting together a photo memory book of your family’s vacation. Or, suggest they take photos throughout the summer and make photo books of their own in August. Have them include captions of the places you visited, the things they learned, and short anecdotes. Walmart, Picaboo, and Shutterfly are a few sites that offer templates for photo books.
Build a family website
Many kids love to play with coding, design, photography, and writing. Help your child design an inexpensive family website using platforms like uKit, WordPress, Weebly, or Wix. Some of these sites are more user-friendly than others. Check around to see what would work best for your youngster.
Draw comic strips
The Strip Designer app enables kids to take pictures of their artwork or upload photos to create their own comic strips. Using the app’s comic book template, they can play with fonts and filters and write dialogue in speech balloons. Also check out the family-friendly website MakeBeliefsComix.com, created by Bill Zimmerman. The free site provides writing prompts for kids, comic strip templates, and suggestions for family activities. Younger children might like the apps Superhero Comic Book Maker and Princess Fairy Tale Maker, which are designed for kids who aren’t writing yet. When they’re finished creating their story, they can record it and play it back.
Record an interview
Interview a grandparent, parent, sibling, or another relative using the audio record function on your phone, computer, or iPad. Not sure what to ask? Check out StoryCorps.org, which offers an app with suggested interview questions.
Create a digital slideshow
On your next family field trip or vacation, provide your child with an inexpensive digital camera if they don’t have access to a smartphone. Afterward, they can upload their photos to your computer and create a digital slideshow with music, transitions, and creative fonts. Check out Smilebox.com, Apple Photos, or Movavi (Mac).
Start a blog
Help your budding artist, writer, or photographer start a private family blog where they can share their work with family and friends. If your child likes to cook, suggest she take photos during each step of the cooking process and post her recipes on the blog. For a group of friends who love to read, watch movies, or play video games, suggest setting up a group blog that they can use to take turns posting book, movie, or video game reviews.
Snap a photo a day
Using apps like Photo 365, have your child take a photo a day throughout the summer. Choose a specific subject like a tree, a seed that they plant, a puppy or kitten, a sibling, or daily selfies. At the end of the summer, watch the subject in a quick time-lapse. How does the subject matter change over the course of the season? ExpertPhotography.com’s 365 Photography Challenge Calendar offers daily photography ideas.
Learn to code
Kids can create a free account on Scratch and learn to code their own computer games, animations, and stories. Video tutorials show kids how to move, add sound, and more using computer code blocks. They can view projects made by others, and even play games coded by their friends who have Scratch accounts.
Get curious
Check out a list of sites for kids featuring links to art, science, music, games, sports, and more at KidSites.com.

As always, ensure that your kids are taking appropriate personal safety precautions to protect their identity and location while online. Unsure about an app or online platform? Check out CommonSenseMedia.org.

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