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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

App Review: Drawing Pad

We featured Drawing Pad in our iPad Apps for Kids workshops within our Elementary Creation Apps focus this summer, and will continue to recommend it especially after its newest update that happened just a few days ago! Lets take a look at Drawing Pad and what it is that makes it a Techie Teacher approved app and then share some ways that we like to use it in a educational setting!

The Basics of Drawing Pad: It costs $1.99, with the option for in-app purchases for different coloring books. It does come with 2 coloring books for free: Farm and More Fun.  Each coloring book has over 20 images that can be colored using all of the tools in your artist drawer.  We appreciate that the basics of this app are included in the purchase price, including all the different artist tools, colors, and the saving/sharing feature.  When you first get this app we recommend you watching the short tutorial video that is embedded within the app. It is a very helpful walk through for the app, and it is easy to follow along or go back to if need be. Drawing Pad is labeled as a mobile art studio for all ages, and we'd agree! With the easy to use interfaces preschool and Kindergarten students can explore and not get frustrated. The variety of tools and advanced abilities make this an app that even adult artists can use and love. Whether you are using this in a school setting or at home, know that every artist can create with Drawing Pad!

How It Works: Open up a new canvas and start working right away! According to the App Store Drawing Pad includes: Crayons, Markers, Paint Brushes, Colored Pencils, Sketch Pencils, Roller Stamp Pens, Erasures, Stickers, Construction Paper, Blenders, Text Sticker Tool, Photo Background Import, Photo Stickers, Gradient Brushes & Crayons, Advanced Brush Control, Color wheel and  a Gradient Panel.  Whoa! There really is any type of medium that you would want. And the best part is, they really do look like what they say they are! The chalk looks like you are drawing with dusty chalk, the crayons color just like Crayolas. This is huge for my perfectionist students who want their visions to translate exactly to the device-just like it would on paper!  You can add text, different backgrounds and use your photo roll to make stickers or background pages. Even better than on paper, Drawing Pad allows you to edit and change as you go,as well as a save feature that allows you to come back to your work again and again.

What We Wish was Different: Because we don't currently have 1:1 iPads in our classroom, and many of the teachers that we work with during our workshops don't either, it would be great to have the ability to name the work with a student's name. I sent the developer an email letting him know of this suggestion and he thinks it is a great idea, maybe it will be an added feature in an upcoming update! Other than that the controls are simple to use and with the latest update they fixed many of the bugs and updated some features for ease of use (such as a simpler share function and parental control for the coloring book store. We LOVE when developers respond to feedback from their users and Drawing Pad has shown us great customer service so far!

How to Utilize Drawing Pad in Education: Drawing Pad can be used in place of anytime you have the students illustrating or creating art pieces to accompany their work.  Because it is a creation app the possibilities are endless! How have I been using it in my K classroom? Here is a few ways:

  • As an open ended activity. I have many budding artists in my classroom and Drawing Pad beats the old paper and pencil or even whiteboard and dry erase markers.  For them to be able to experiment with different art tools without me having to purchase them is a huge plus for me! We use it in small groups to discuss various art vocabulary (which often coincides with math vocab!) such as thickness, line, shape, pattern, symmetry and texture.  Many of my creative students will choose Drawing Pad as an academic choice activity
  • As a tool to learn about the writing process.  To introduce my students to how to write a story I use the following steps: Think-Draw-Add Detail-Label-Sentence and always 'when you are done you've actually just begun!'.  Because Drawing Pad lets us save work in an album and come back to it as many times as need be it fits in nicely while students develop this process.  In fact, I'd go so far to say it works better as the ability to erase and change is much easier on the iPad than it is on paper! 
  • As an accompaniment to a research report (or really an type of report!). Because of the multiple tools at your disposal the students are able to create a customized image that they are very proud of, with each one having its own unique properties.  Giving students choice is a huge motivating factor, and I like that I don't have to say 'no' to anything-----ergo No, you can't use your permanent markers that somehow got sent in with your school supplies, despite the fact that you ask every time we illustrate something:/  
  • As a background for assessing learning. Think about the different learning styles. One of them is Spatial Learning. This means they love designing, drawing, visualizing and expressing their knowledge through creation. When I create my lesson plans this is often a hard one for me to incorporate new ideas for. Using Drawing Pad has helped me integrate more spatial learning activities and responses into my curriculum.  Instead of just discussing a habitat in science, I can now upload a picture of a habitat (lets say pond) and the students have to add in what type of things can be found in that habitat. Or, when we learn about bears, I add a variety of bear themed stickers and backgrounds and let the students show me what they know about bears.
  • As a tool for learning vocabulary.  In my classroom we focus on a new set of vocabulary words each week. To provide some extra practice for my EL students I use Drawing Pad for them to practice their vocabulary words.  Using the camera feature I take pictures of the vocabulary word picture cards that are apart of our curriculum.  I then have them put one picture onto a blank screen and then draw another example of that word. For instance, the word fetch shows a picture of a dog fetching a stick. Using Drawing Pad the students then draw next to that picture another example of fetch. They did work such as them fetching a pencil, their sister fetching the milk, or a cat fetching a mouse. This allows them to extend their knowledge with the visual support of what they have been pre-taught. We can then print the vocabulary pictures into a book for the students to read during their Daily 5 work.
  • Interactive displays using QR Codes or AR.  Because of the ease of sending out the student's work and that you can easily print as well, it is fun to use Drawing Pad to make an interactive art display or bulletin board. For example, have the students create artwork. Then record them either as a video or using a voice recording app such as Audioboo and create a QR Code that links the viewers to the artist's explanation of their work! You can even use their artwork as a trigger image for augmented reality using Aurasma app (if this intrigues you check back for a future post on how to do this!
There are even more possibilities for incorporating Drawing Pad into educational settings! Let us know how you use Drawing Pad in your classroom by leaving a comment below! We recommend Drawing Pad to anyone looking to add a little art into their teaching with technology!

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