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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Maker Mondays: How do you make those cool graphics for social media?

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Branding. It’s a thing we talk a lot about in all walks of life, including libraries. And branding is more important than ever with our prolific use of social media. When you share something on social media, you want an image to share with your post that is easily recognizable, immediately associated with your brand, and points directly back to you when it is shared by others on social media. Even better if you create regular content that is predictable, expected and communicates to your patrons who and what you are. So consider having regular features like New Title Tuesdays, for example, with well developed images to market that content. And consider adding your logo and website url onto each image.

Popular websites like Epic Reads are already doing this and doing it well. They have regular features that are comfortable and familiar to their readers, and that is a powerful tool.

But how do you create the images? Today I am going to share with you two separate tools that work well for this: Canva and Word Swag.

Canva

I have previously talked about Canva at length so I’m just going to touch on it here briefly. Canva is a free online tool that you can use to create all types of images, including social media images. You set up an account for free and you can upload your own pictures or use their library of free images. If you want to spring for the bonus features, there is additional content you can tap into for a free. I have, however, successfully used Canva for multiple projects and never had to pay any additional money. I sincerely recommend Canva, in under five minutes I might add. Previous posts on Canva:

Tech Review: Online Creation Tools Piktochart and Canva

MakerSpace: Postcard Party

These social media images were created using Canva:

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Canva has both an online portal and a mobile app. At first I hated the mobile app version, but I am getting better at it. I still prefer the online portal.

Word Swag

Word Swag is an app that you can purchase and download to your mobile device to make quick images to share. Word Swag is a bit pricey for an app at $4.99, especially given what it does, but it is quick and easy to use with effective results. It is available for both iOS and Android. You can start with a provided image or access an image from your camera roll. You can then crop it, add text, and quickly save your photo. It’s fast and easy, but man do I hate the filters that it has.

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These images were created using Word Swag.

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Some thoughts about Word Swag:

I find Word Swag to be particularly good for making book quote art to share on social media

After you put in your text, you can select your font style and roll the dice to find the best fit and look for your background image. Seeing what the roll of the dice produces can be fun.

In addition to being able to insert your own text, it does have a feature where you can select a category and it offers a few choice quotes in that category for you to use. If you have a picture you have taken but not a great text, it can be fun to see what comes up.

You can only add one text block unless you save, reload your image, and start the process all over again. So if you want to have a heading text at top and your website url at the bottom, the process is much more complicated.

As I mentioned, the filters in this app are basically awful. This is, after all, an app that focuses on words more than images.

It’s easy to use, fast, and can all be done while on the go right there on your phone.

A Final Analysis

After buying Word Swag and using both tools to create square shaped social media images to share, I found that I kept using Canva more than Word Swag, mostly because Canva just offers a lot more options. I like the filters on Canva more (though Instagram is still my favorite quick app for filters and the blur feature). I like that you can add images to your image, like a silhouette. And I like that you can add multiple lines of text in multiple locations. So in terms of functionality, Canva definitely beats out Word Swag. But if you want quick, easy, and portable, either one works. And for the novice, Word Swag may be easier to use.

Word Swag gets the edge for quick and easy, Canva gets the edge for higher functionality.

App Review: Enlight

enlight1For months now I have been wanting to talk to you about a photo app called Enlight, the only problem is – I can’t figure out how to use it very well. This may sound like a dig at the app but it’s not, it’s an admission of my own lack of skills. The truth is, the app is an advanced app and I have seen people do amazing things with it, but I have not yet reached that level of skill.

But I want to tell you about the app anyway because the app team is doing a lot of smart things.

1. The Enlight Challenge

Weekly, the Enlight app posts a photo on their FB page and ask their followers to remix the photo using the app. The new photos are posted in the comments. First, this is a genius education opportunity that would make for a great MakerSpace type of program. Second, it gives me creative ideas and then I go back in and try and figure out how certain pictures were achieved. It’s both inspiration and education, plus incredibly smart marketing.

2. Tutorials

They also post tutorial videos on their FB page and these are incredibly helpful.

3. The Blog

They also occasionally post helpful general photography tips about things like composition and lighting. Even if you don’t use the app, it’s a good resource.

enlight6But what about the app?

The Basics:

 

  • Cost: $3.99
  • Category: Photo & Video
  • Updated: Feb 27, 2017
  • Version: 1.3.3
  • Size: 128 MB
  • Compatibility: Requires iOS 8.1 or later.

 

This photo app is a really comprehensive, advanced and sophisticated app. It does a little bit of everything including blending, masking, painting, sketching, adding text and – one of my favorite features – it turns your photo into a type of graffiti wall art. The developers clearly know they have a good but advanced tool and are smart to work so hard in engaging users and providing educational opportunities.

Here are a couple of pictures I made using the app:

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Please note, they are nothing compared to what I have seen people do with this app. I highly recommend it with the acknowledgement that you will have a steep learning curve.

More Photo App Reviews at TLT:

App Review: BeFunky

App Review: Aviary

App Review: Prisma

App Review: FotoRus

App Review: Fused (with an assist from the Silhouette app)

App Review: Candy Camera

How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version

TPIB: Photo Shrink Jewelry Charms

shrinkydinks4Although we have some permanent stations set up in our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, we also occasionally rotate in some different stations to make sure our teens have a variety of activities to engage in. One of our permanent stations includes a bank of iPads which we encourage the teens to do many things with, including create digital media and do photo manipulation. If you have read many posts here at TLT, you know that I am quite obsessed with photo apps and photo manipulation and creation. It is one of my favorite things to do (my phone currently has 14,000 pictures on it and that is not hyperbole). And I then like to find creative things to do with those photos: like turn them into shrink plastic jewelry.

If you are thinking Shrinky Dinks – well, you are right, kind of. Shrinky Dinks are a brand name, there are other types of shrink plastic. And there is shrink plastic that you can put right into your printer, which is my kind of shrink plastic. So this summer, we made photo shrink plastic jewelry with our teens. Today I’m going to tell you how.

Supplies

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  • 2.25 circle punch. I use this one, but you can also just shape fill a 2.25 circle on your computer’s graphics program and a pair of scissors. I like the circle punch because it is a clean circle and it is quick.
  • Standard single hole punch (1/4 inch)
  • Photo printer shrink plastic, as pictured above. There are a few brand options, just make sure it says photo or printer friendly.
  • Some type of technology and a printer
  • A heat source: I recommend a toaster oven
  • A brown grocery bag or lunch sack
  • A metal tray (this usually comes with your toaster oven)
  • Oven mitts
  • A hot pad or trivet
  • Jewelry making findings and tools

Step 1: Creating your images

Before your can print and shrink your images, you need to create your images. For example, you can use Instagram images. Or use any variety of apps to create the images you would like to create(see below for a list of my favorites). When creating or choosing an already existing image, you want to make sure of two things:

1) That they will fit into the 2.25 inches size nicely and

2) That putting a hole in the top or on the sides – more about this in a moment – won’t obscure the important parts of the image. For example, if you are doing a photo with people you’ll want to make sure that you won’t be cutting off their heads when you put a hole in the top.

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For my example bracelet, The Mr. had created a series of Doctor Who inspired silhouette drawings to decorate The Teens room. I took pictures of those pieces of art and used a variety of apps to add backgrounds, text, etc. I then uploaded the images to my laptop so that I could print them.

Step 2: Printing your images

You’ll want to follow all printing instructions on your shrink plastic. For example, you will want to reduce the color intensity because the colors gets darker when the images shrink.

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For making jewelry charms, after much experimentation, we have found that 2.25 inches is a good size to begin with pre-shrink. In addition, a standard hole punch at the top shrinks down to a good size for a top loop and threading onto some type of jewelry finding. You can alternately put a hole on the left and right side using your hole punch to make a fitted charm bracelet where you loop thread or o rings through both sides of the charm.

After you print your image you’ll want to make sure not to touch the image so that the ink doesn’t smear or smudge.

Step 3: Shrinking your images

Again, you’ll want to follow all the package instructions for using the shrink plastic. Typically you set your toaster oven to 325 degrees. You’ll want to place your images on a piece of brown paper bag that fits inside your toaster oven; this just makes it easier to remove for cooling. The paper goes on the metal tray which you put in the oven (though it also works if you lose the metal tray which I’m not saying I did but the image below proves). When you take the metal tray out you can remove the paper and set it on a heat safe surface to cool. We used a left over piece of ceramic tile, but any type of hot pad or trivet will do.

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The shrinking happens pretty quickly so you need to stay right there and watch your items in the oven. They will briefly curl up and it will scare you because you think, “Oh no, they’re going to fold in on themselves.” And yet somehow they don’t. When they are flat again, wait like 2 beats more and then remove the tray to cool.

We have done this in the library with teens and you want to make sure you have an adult supervising the toaster oven at all times. The items get hot and letting them cool down is essential.

Step 4: Turning your images into jewelry – or something

In the most basic sense, you can thread a single charm onto a basic hemp cord and you have a necklace. You can also string beads between several charms and create a necklace or bracelet. I happen to be lucky and my Assistant Director does chain mail as a hobby and this is a fantastic way to make a charm bracelet. Here are a couple of our creations to give you some ideas.

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Don’t want to make jewelry? Don’t put any holes in your plastic, shrink like normal, slap a magnet on the back and you have one of a kind magnets.

There’s a Book for That

And because we try to have a book for every activity we do or station we create in our Teen MakerSpace, we were very excited to find this book:

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A Couple of Notes

We experimented with other shapes, but found that circles worked best and didn’t have any rough edges that could poke.

You can technically do this with traditional shrink plastic and hand drawn images as well. For example, we found that our teens loved to make their initials or names.

Some of Karen’s Favorite Photo Apps

How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version

App Review: Prisma

App Review: Aviary

App Review: FotoRus

App Review: Image Chef

Tech Talk: App Review – BeFunky

Generate Marketing Creativity with iPhone Apps

Meme the Apps

More Photo Crafts

Instagram crafts

10 Things to Do with a Blank Canvas part 1 and part 2

Share it! Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

App Review: Prisma

Knowing my love of photo apps, several people have wanted to make sure I know about the new Prisma app. Prisma allows you to transform your picture into a work of art based on the styles of many famous artists. It’s actually a fairly easy app to you, in part because it is limited in functionality. It does all the work, so there isn’t a lot that you, the user, have to do. You can manipulate the degree to which your photo is changed, you can split the screen so only half the photo is changed or the two halves of the photo are changed to different degrees, but you don’t have to worry about things like contrast or brightness or exposure.

Let’s look at what it does. Here’s my original photo:

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There are currently 29 filters to choose from. They include things like Gothic, Transverse Line, Paper Art and Mondrian. They also have my personal favorite, Heisenberg. Yes, that Heisenberg, from Breaking Bad. Here’s what the picture above looks like using some of the filters available on Prisma. I took screen shots so you could see the name of each filter being used.

prisma9 prisma3 prisma2 prisma1 primsa8 primsa7 primsa6 primsa5 primsa4As you can see, it does in fact turn your photo into a stunning work of art. And it is very easy to use. You literally just choose your art style by clicking on it, the app does all the work, and then if you would like you can adjust the degree of filtering by swiping your finger from left to right on the screen.

I can see using this filter to create some cool pictures and then downloading them to do things like add text to make end cap signs. Or bookmarks. Or incorporating the pics into flyers or on social media.

Or you can create pictures and mod podge or transfer them onto canvas or wood blocks. Make them into buttons or key chains. There are lots of creative opportunities for this app. The best part: it was totally free.

App Review: FotoRus

It’s been a couple of weeks since I talked about a photo app, so you probably thought that my obsession with photos and photo apps was dying down – but no! It is alive and well, I have just been waiting for the right moment. Like now, now feels like the right moment to discuss with you an app with a few fun new features that I have found.

fotorusFotoRus is an app that does multiple things. You can create a collage, add a sticker or edit like a pro using the pro edit feature. My two favorite things about FotoRus are the Mag Library feature (InstaMag) and the PIP (photo in a photo) feature.

Mag Library

Mag Library is short for magazine library. Here you can select a magazine spread layout and add your photos. You can’t do a lot of editing, which is the downside, but if you are looking for quick and easy layouts it is a definite plus. Even when switching to Pro Edit I couldn’t get rid of a few pieces of text that I wanted to. There are a ton of fun and creative layouts to choose from.

instamag

PIP

The PIP feature allows you to create a dual picture effect. I made holiday cards this year using the snowflake picture. There are also images like camera view finders, bottles, smart phone screens and, my other personal favorite, the audio cassette. As you can see, it kind of puts the picture in the background as an out of focus image and then it highlights it inside the selected picture.

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The App Details

Description from iTunes:

Including Professional Edit, Beauty, Special Effects, Sticker, Secret Album, and InstaMag!

【Sticker】
Apply hundreds of stickers with funny, cute and girly themes. Make your photo more expressive!

【Classic Collage】
Over 100+ Square, Portrait, Landscape, and Strips format and styles to suit all your artistic needs!

【Pro Edit】
Over a dozen powerful and must-have editing functions such as Filters, Scenes, Adjust, Lighting, Light pen, and etc! Come check it out!

【InstaBeauty】
Try our real-time beauty camera and take the perfect-looking selfie! Use our rich function sets to further edit your selfie including: Remove blemishes, whiten skin, remove eye-bag, and many more!

【InstaMag】
The most fashionable designer-style collages and posters! Easy, beautiful, with all kinds design styles to choose from.

【PIP Camera】
The most creative and professional-studio selfie with one tap of a finger! #1 in over 40 countries! Great for making your profile photos.

【Secret Album】
Protect you secret photos from others!

This app is available for both iTunes and on Google Play. It is free and there are ads.

You can also download FotoRus for your PC. I have not done this and can’t tell you how it works on the PC, sorry.

There are other apps that do some of the same things as FotoRus. For example, you can do a lot of the editing in Aviary, you can add text with Over, you can make collages with a wide variety of apps, and you can add stickers with apps like CandyCam and A Beautiful Mess. FotoRus is the only app that I have found that can do the PIP feature. And, as I mentioned, I really like the InstaMag layouts. For these features alone, I recommend this app.

For more app reviews check out the MakerSpace section or Tech Talk. Or click on the Tech Talk or App Review tag.

App Review: Aviary (The quest for the perfect photo app continues)

Last week we got the final approval to make some big changes at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) where I am working as the YA Services Coordinator. Namely, my proposal to move the YA fiction collection out of an enclosed space to a new location and to turn that enclosed space into a MakerSpace was approved (I’ll be writing more about that soon). I am beyond excited because I think it is a great use of the space for our patrons current needs. And in anticipation of this change we (the Assistant Director and I) have been investigating some tech for the space. And since one of my programming goals is to help teens use our technology to make their own memes and artwork, I have been investigating photo apps. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for my teens.

So in the course of my investigation I found multiple references and recommendations for a photo app called Aviary. Here are the basics:

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  • It’s for the iPhone or an iPad
  • You must have IOS7 or later
  • It is basically free but there are in app purchases (more about this in a moment)
  • It combines a wide variety of features that I have been using multiple apps to perform

Overall, I really like this app and can see why it has gotten all the accolades. As I mentioned, it combines a lot of great features into one app where in the past I have used multiple apps.

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Here’s a picture I manipulated of Thing 2 in the Aviary app. It allowed me to use a vignette and to resize it so I could cut out the outside stuff and focus the attention on her face. Then I was able to use a simple sticker that said “This is Love” to put on the bottom. I printed it out and it looks great.

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This is a picture I took of a bunch of crowns at the DUMPLIN’ (by Julie Murphy) release party at the Irving Public Library. I was able to use a vibrant filter and add this text and create a great pic that pays homage to the book.

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This photo is a Star Wars Lego Minifigure posed in front of a piece of scrapbooking paper that has like a galaxy theme on it. I then ran it through some filters and added the text.

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In addition to the various stickers and frames, Aviary also has some overlays you can use. here is a picture of the moon a friend took (used with permission) and I added the whimsical overlay border you see at the top and bottom of the picture. Normally, I would have used something like this in the A Beautiful Mess app and then used another app to finish my picture. I was able to do this all in one place.

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And here’s a picture of The Teen and The Bestie from a recent trip ice skating. Simple filters and a “Friends” sticker made it a great photo.

So, here’s what I like:

In addition to the normal photo manipulating techniques in most photo apps like crop, brighten, sharpen, etc., Aviary has a variety of filters (also called effects), frames, overlays and stickers you can use to enhance your photo.

You can easily add text to your photo where before I would use an app and then save the photo and use the Over app to add text. Having everything I want and need available in one app is definitely a bonus.

It has a “Meme” feature that easily lets you add text to the bottom and top of your photo to create a meme. It has less functionality then the text feature but it is quicker if this is your end goal.

It has a “Draw” feature that allows you to free hand draw or write onto your photos. It also has an erase in case you make a mistake. I don’t have the skills to successfully use this feature, but it is cool that it exists in the app.

What I Don’t Like:

Although the app is technically free, you only get a handful of filters (effects), frames, overlays and stickers with the initial download. After that, you have to buy additional packages at 99 cents each. And there are a lot of additional packages to buy organized by themes. In the end, the app could end up costing you a lot of money depending on how happy you are with the standard components. For example, I wasn’t super excited about the filters/effects which are included. Though for that additional 99 cents you can get some cool ones like fireworks, fade, etc. I counted 48 effects packages, so you would have to pay over $40.00 to get all the effects for this app. And then you would have to do the same for the frames, stickers and overlays. You’ll also want to be careful because not all packages are created equal. The censored sticker pack, which would be cool for Banned Books Week, has 17 stickers while the fashion sticker pack has 38 stickers.

Although you can add text to your picture, there are only 10 font options and as far as I can tell you can not purchase additional font packages. I would like to see more font options available and don’t understand why they don’t sell these packages since they sell so many other packages.

In addition, there are only 22 color choices for your text where some other apps have more.

Bottom Line:

It’s definitely a great app and I highly recommend it with caution: it’s kinda free but not really and be careful or you can spend a lot of money. In future upgrades I would like to see them add more functionality to the text feature. Overall, Aviary is definitely a great one stop place for most of your photo manipulation needs.

How about you, what photo editing apps and online programs do you like? Let me know in the comments. For more app reviews check out Tech Talk.

Creating and Using an iPad Technology Lab as Part of a Library Teen Makerspace

As part of my teen area Makerspace, I want to buy a number of iPads. Here is some of the information I have been putting together to discuss the who, what, when, where and why of it for my library administration. The iPad can be used in a variety of ways to incorporate more technology in teen programming, from gaming to teaching things like photo manipulation and creating short films. You can also use it as a platform for your library’s social media such as Tumblr and Instagram.

makerspaceBasic iPad Information:

iPad comparison chart: http://www.apple.com/ipad/compare/#comparison-chart

This information will help you compare and contrast things like cost, storage capacity and more.

Things you can do with an iPad Tech Lab:

Teach and create a variety of photo manipulation techniques. These photos can then be used in house for display purposes, in marketing materials, and share via social media. They can be incorporated into bookmarks, posters, flyers, end cap displays and more.

  • Basic gaming
  • Create a variety of videos which can be shared and used both in house and online using apps like iMovies, Stop Motion or basic GIF apps life GIFfer.
  • Pair with the Lego Makerspace to create a variety of Lego based activities to combine tech with Lego fun. Adds variety to Lego Makerspace.
  • Produce and share music
  • Engage in social media marketing with teen audience

Apps of Interest

Basic Apps you’ll want to have downloaded: Instagram, Vine, YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter

Gaming Apps

Minecraft Pocket Edition

Price point: $6.99

The popular game brought to iPad, not a full version

Info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/minecraft-pocket-edition/id479516143?mt=8

For further investigation: 70 Best iPad Games New for 2015 http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-ipad-games/

Photo Manipulation Tools

GIFFER

Price point: $2.99

The animated gif app, use to make GIF or short stop motion pictures. Easily upload photos.

Info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/giffer-the-animated-gif-app/id416952536?mt=8

App review post with examples: http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2014/10/app-review-lego-makerspace-fun-giffer-using-legos-to-tell-stories-and-learn-how-to-make-gifs/

Be Funky

Price Point: Basic app is free, but I bought the additional packages which included several effects. Similarly, the basic online service is free but there is an upgrade option.

What you can do:

  • Edit your photo, including cut and paste and several beauty edits
  • Add effects
  • Add frames
  • Add text
  • Create a collage (which can be used in combination with the Pop Art effect and speech bubbles to create a graphic novel/comic book page)

Info Page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/befunky-photo-editor-collage/id442716817?mt=8

Previously discussed on TLT: http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2015/05/tech-talk-app-review-befunky/

Photo Shake

Price point: $1.99

Easily upload photos and do a variety of things with them. I have used it to make book marks, grid pictures and more. Can be printed for in house use or shared on social media.

Info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photoshake!/id389104355?mt=8

Previously discussed on TLT: http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2011/07/generate-marketing-creativity-with-iphone-apps/

Word Foto

Price point: $1.99

Creates a word collage using a photo. I have used it to make end cap signage. Also great for sharing via social media.

Info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wordfoto/id414002091

Previously discussed on TLT: http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2011/07/generate-marketing-creativity-with-iphone-apps/

Over

Price point: $1.99

Add text to photos.

Info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/over/id535811906?mt=8

Adobe PS Express

Price point: Free

Upload and edit photos in a variety of ways.

Info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/adobe-photoshop-express/id331975235?mt=8

Comic Book

Price point: $2.99

Upload photos and add various embellishments to make comic book pages.

Info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/comicbook!/id436114747?mt=8

Previously discussed on TLT: http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2011/07/generate-marketing-creativity-with-iphone-apps/

PocketBooth

Price point: $0.99

A mini photo booth that creates photo strips.

Info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocketbooth/id385145330

Previously discussed on TLT: http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2011/07/generate-marketing-creativity-with-iphone-apps/

Photo in Word

Price point: $0.99

Create words that are filled with your photos.

Info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photo-in-word-pro/id513227128?mt=8

Previously discussed on TLT: http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2011/07/generate-marketing-creativity-with-iphone-apps/

Motion Picture Tools

Stop Motion

Price point: $0.99

Easy to use and make stop motion pictures

Info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stop-motion/id552326107?mt=8

iMovie

Price point: $4.99

Make trailers and movies

Info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/imovie/id377298193?mt%3D8

Music Tools

Spotify

Price point: Free

Use to make book playlists

Info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/spotify/id324684580?mt=8

To investigate further: http://ipad.about.com/od/musical-accessories/tp/The-Best-iPad-Apps-For-Musicians.htm

Coding

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/7-apps-teaching-children-coding-anna-adam

More on Ipads in Libraries:

20 Coolest iPad Ideas for Your Library – OnlineCollege.org

Integrating iPads and Tablets into Library Services

There’s a Maker Faire in That iPad! 10 Ways to Create …

iPads in the Makerspace! | The GCAA Makerspace

 

 

For all of our tech posts, check out the Tech Talk index

Now it’s your turn: If you have other apps that you use and recommend, please share with us in the comments!