by Rob Reilly Ed.D.
Storybook Weaver: Terrific Software for Lower Grade Writing/Story-making
Once upon a time there was a teacher who wanted to find a terrific piece of writing software that would work for students in grades K through 6. Then one dark and stormy night that teacher (I'm really talking about me) decided to venture forth to every nook and cranny of the Internet until he found a story-making software program that was fun, held the interest of children, made noise, had graphics, allowed for text-to-speech, had an obvious education value--and encourages children to write--a way to get reluctant writers to want to create stories. The teacher (it's really me, remember?) spent hours and hours examining demos of various pieces of story-making software. And then there was a brilliant flash of light and a magical elf appeared and said: "Click your mouse twice and say the magic words (al la peanut butter sandwiches) and the most terrific, most incredible story-making software will appear. So the teacher clicked the mouse and said the magic words and found Storybook Weaver Deluxe.
Storybook Weaver Deluxe provides outstanding inspiration for children in developing basic as well as creative writing skills. The reviews I have read support this observation. Reviewers have:
"found that [the children] didn't have to write as fast as their creative thoughts occurred. The pictures can be quickly designed to encourage their thinking processes, and having their own images seemed to allow them to remember what they wanted to write."
Reviewers have also noted that "even younger kids will enjoy designing scenes with this program, but they will need assistance writing the text."
Storybook Weaver has tremendous educational value. Here's the review that says-it-all:
"Storybook Weaver is for kids that want more than just a sheet of paper to jump-start their creative writing. Young writers choose between themes like - outer space, a king's castle, oceans and more, and then pick from a variety of characters available to fit with the almost never ending choices of scenery. Our kids loved changing the time of day in the scenery, from morning to night, in their stories."
Storybook Weaver has hundreds of excellent graphics (e.g., dinosaurs, people, backgrounds, fantasy beings and things, structures, etc.). These graphics can easily be inserted into the storyboard and moved about. It's quite simple to change the size, direction and color of the graphics. There is also a paint program included to change the colors of the graphics.
Storybook Weaver allows for the creation of an actual book. Students can have multiple pages in their story. Each page is created individually. The bottom portion of the story page has a section where text can be written. Storybook Weaver has a text-to-speech feature that when clicked, converts the text into audible speech. This is a terrific feature to this or any story-making program.
In addition to the text-to-speech feature Storybook Weaver has some 50 theme songs which will play when the story is opened. There are also some 100 different sounds that can be linked to various pages or items on a page (e.g., ghost howling, dog barking, glass breaking, snoring, etc.).
Storybook Weaver Deluxe Classic is packed with thousands of story-starting images to stimulate your students’ creativity. Students can write in English or Spanish for hours of creative possibilities. And the text-to-speech feature lets your students hear the story read aloud.
I highly recommend this program. If you were to have only one program on your computer, Storybook Weaver is THE ONE that you should have. It never becomes boring, it never 'wears out,' the children never exhaust the program. And it does engage the children at all skill levels; it engages the slow writer, it engages the creative writer; and it engages the teacher--I love it also--it's a cool program to use.
There is a School Edition available for $24.95 (plus $4.95 s&h) from Nothing But Software (www.nothingbutsoftware.com enter "Storybook Weaver" into their search engine). The School Edition includes a Teacher's User Guide! The Guide is designed to help you introduce Storybook Weaver Deluxe to your students and to provide numerous Classroom Ideas and Resources. The activities are practical and offer a wealth of extension ideas. It seems that the School Edition provides a 6-user license, which may be useful for computer labs or classrooms with multiple computers.
Storybook Weaver is also available at Nothing But Software for $12.95 but there is no teacher guide and seems to have no multi-user license.
PC Platform: 95/98/Me Media: CD-ROM CPU : 486Mhz or better RAM: 4MB (8MB recommended) Video: Super VGA (640x480x256 color) CD-ROM: 2X or better Sound: Windows compliant sound device Mouse : Compatible
Macintosh Platform: Media: CD-ROM; CPU: 68030 or better, 7.1 up to 8.6; RAM: 8MB; Video: Super VGA (640x480x256 color); CD-ROM: 2X or better
Download a Demo Version
If you'd like to test drive the program, it's available for download at:
It appears that there are many options that are not included in the demo. The full version includes sound effects, music, spell check, and a thesaurus. The print and save options are unavailable in the demo, and very unfortunately, the text-to-speech option is also unplugged.
Review by David Furr, Ph.D.
This software is really amazing. Story Book Weaver is a program that lets you pick from a variety of backgrounds, people, animals, shelters, music, and sound effects to create either a multimedia "book" or a regular paper book. My son, a first grader, drove me crazy with this program. He wanted to write books every day, and it was truly impressive what he could produce.
First you are presented with a selection of background skies, then background grounds. You then add people and things to put your story together. You can enlarge or shrink the "things" to fit where and how you like them. Then you type in the words that tell the story. If you like, you can add music and sound effects. You can write your story first and add the backgrounds later, but it's a little hard to do it this way unless you are very familiar with the software.
My son wrote four "books" in four days, and then loved reading them. What a great way to get kids to read, with the added bonus of writing. Many teachers I know use this in their elementary classes almost daily. They all say that the hardest part about getting kids to write is coming up with the ideas to write about. This program does it for you. Their only problem... the students fight over using it!
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