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Google Story Builder – one more cool tool in your toolkit

Just over two years ago, Google used the Super Bowl to highlight a very cool tool they had created called Search Story that used their Search feature to, well . . . tell a story. I spent a few minutes sharing how you might be able to use Search Story to help kids summarize all sorts of information and to discuss historical people, events, and ideas. I thought about how you could use it to create hook activities or have kids create end of unit type products.

The bad news? Google is no longer supporting Search Story.


But . . . they’ve created a replacement. Google’s latest fun tool called Story Builder is up and running.

Launched a few months ago, Story Builder allows you and your kids to create quick little video clips of stories you create that have the feel of Google Docs being edited. You personalize the videos by creating the characters, story, and selecting music from a list provided by Google. When you’re done, you can share your video story with others with a unique URL.

And like the now discontinued Search Story – moment of silence . . . Story Builder can be used by students to create quick summaries, overviews, and historical discussions. Because the tool uses the format of Google Docs being edited, you and kids could use Story Builder to focus on the dialogue between different people or groups. And it seems like a great way to create awesome hook activities that create problems for kids to solve.

There are just four easy steps to the process:

  • Add characters to your story
  • Write your story
  • Add a title and select your music
  • Share your story with others

I quickly threw something together that illustrates the idea:


storybuilder 1

(Go to the unique URL to get a sense of what it might look like there.)

A negative? The stories are limited to just 10 characters and 10 exchanges. So you really need to focus on what is “said” in your story.

A positive? The stories are limited to just 10 characters and 10 exchanges. So, because kids are limited in what they can say, it seems like a great tool for summarizing strategies.

You also don’t get an embed code or the ability to upload to YouTube. You get a link to a specific URL that you can share with others. I got around that issue by using ScreenFlow to screen capture the video as it played.  But users do not need to log in to Google to use Story Builder, making it much friendlier for younger students or those without Google accounts.

So while it’s not the cool Search Story of Super Bowl 2010 fame, Story Builder does give you another tool in your tool belt that you can use in your classroom.


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