What is Story Bird?

Story Bird is a “visual storytelling community”. Artists are able to contribute thought-provoking pieces of artwork. Users are then encouraged to let the artwork inspire them to create and publish stories and poetry. Rather than allowing individuals to upload their own artwork or pictures the website states, “Our particular niche is inspiring people with gorgeous illustrations and focusing them on unlocking the stories hidden in the art.”
Storybird allows teachers to add students within one main account. This lets the teacher keep class activity private and only share the work they want to share. At any time, the teacher can review works-in-progress, give feedback, grade, and award work. Teachers can make private comments on works-in-progress or finished work and assign number or letter grades to students’ work if they wish to do so. Stories can easily be embedded into class blogs, social media accounts, or wikis.

What are the benefits of Story Bird?

Young writers often struggle with writing short fiction, especially fantasy. Coming up with an idea that they can convey coherently can be quite challenging. Using artwork to inspire or unlock an idea frees children to focus more on the craft of writing. The website has many stories that children can read as models before they write one of their own. Reading many good stories that have been published by other children their own age helps them see the possibilities for their own writing.
Story Bird proves especially beneficial for students who are below grade level in writing. The colorful, thought-provoking images help these students generate creative ideas. If stress is not placed on spelling, these struggling students view Storybird as a “pressure free” environment where they are able to experiment and take risks with their writing.

Here is an Example of a Story Bird we created.

Story Bird Activity

1. Create a free teacher account by visiting __http://storybird.com/teachers/__.

2. Click on “classes” and create or generate usernames for each of the students in your class.

3. Print login cards for your students so their projects are linked to your account.
4. Give students a brief tutorial, then allow them to explore or give them a specific assignment.

How can I use Story Bird in my classroom?

Story Bird is an excellent tool for almost any reading or writing assignment. The teacher could create a story and give their students a corresponding assignment or students could be asked to practice a particular skill by creating their own project. Here are just a few ways Story Bird can be used specifically:

  • The teacher could find or create a story and have students practice determining story elements, identifying character traits, making inferences, summarizing, determining main idea and details, asking and answering questions using evidence from the text, comparing and contrasting, determining point of view, etc.
  • Students could practice any of the skills above by demonstrating them in their own story.
  • Students could create stories for one another and respond to each others’ stories.
  • Students could create opinion, persuasive, or narrative writing pieces.
  • Students could work collaboratively with another student from their class, their parents, or a peer anywhere in the world (Story Bird allows you to invite a collaborator to any piece).
  • Students could explore any published piece and practice using good critiquing skills.
  • Students could all write a story using the same images pre-selected by the art teacher to learn how interpretation of artwork can vary widely from one viewer to another.
  • Art teachers could use Storybird to teach how to view artwork with a more critical eye. Students could work on inferring meaning within pieces of artwork.
  • Students could compare and contrast pieces of artwork by the same artist.

Student Examples


Teacher Examples

Teachers could use Storybird as a way to develop their “Story” sense as described by Daniel Pink. This could become a fun part of professional development in which teachers are encouraged to develop their R-directed thinking.