Creating digital stories with Google Apps

Apps-smashing with Google Apps

Today my good friend and fellow AIM teacher Richard Smith, asked me how I would create a digital story with text, voice and music. Since I am a Googlaholic, I put my thinking hat on to find a way to create one using only Google apps.

Here are the steps. Click here to read this post in a Google Doc.

1. Create a story in Google presentations.
I used a story that I created a while ago called "Fifi le Chien”.

2. Download the “Screencastify” Chrome Extension. (Click here for a tutorial.)

3. Start recording your story with Screencastify, manually advancing the slides and reading each one out loud (in "Present" mode). Note: you could also have a YouTube video playing in the background if you want to add music. Or, follow steps below (#5).

4. After you stop recording, click on “Share”, then upload to YouTube (Or, save to Drive, then edit/add music in WeVideo. If you choose to use WeVideo, you do not need to do the following directions).

To add music

5. Find your video on YouTube and click on the “Audio” button underneath.
Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 9.31.40 PM.png

6. Choose a song on the right. Notice that you can change the genre of music choices by clicking on the arrow next to "Top Tracks":

NOTE 1: I have not been able to figure out how to loop a soundtrack if the song ends before your video. So make sure to choose a song at least as long as your video. If you click on the magnifying glass next to “Search all tracks”:
Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 2.42.43 PM.pngScreen Shot 2014-11-01 at 2.47.10 PM.png
Then check off “Only show songs of a similar length to this video”:
Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 2.48.55 PM.png
NOTE 2: If you don’t want ads on your video, uncheck “Show ad-supported songs”.
7. Once you have chosen your song, you can adjust the volume button underneath so that you can hear your voice (slide it to the left to “Favor Original Audio”). Note that most songs are too loud, even if you slide the volume as low as it can go. I have found that quiet, classical music is best. (If you cannot find a song that doesn't drown out your voice, try using WeVideo to add music.)

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 9.33.07 PM.png

8. Click “Save”, top right hand corner.
Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 9.35.47 PM.png

It will take a few minutes to render the video with the music.

9. If you want to trim the beginning or the end of the video, click on “Enhancements”:
Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 9.42.17 PM.png

Then “Trim”:

Drag the handles of the video to where you want it to begin and end:

NOTE: You might want to trim the video first before you add the music if you want the music to start right at the beginning of your video. Once you have trimmed a video, it takes about 5 minutes before the video is ready.

10. Here is my test digital story, made on a Chromebook:

Here are two more, based on the AIM plays "Boucles Violettes et les trois ours" and "Louis la grenouille":

Now my students are making their own, using these templates. Stay tuned for their finished projects!

Addendum: We have changed the workflow to: Slides > Screencastify > WeVideo (to add music) > YouTube. Here a video made by a grade 4 student:


  1. Thanks, Sylvia. This is another great way to use GAFE to tell stories.

  2. Certainly the reviews are considered to be so important and that we have to put our best efforts to achieve everything to our hand more efficiently, and this would also bring something good to our attitude.

  3. Thank you for such wonderful suggestions. In your opinion, which one is the best if I want students to record the narration as well? Thank you!

  4. Thank you for your suggestion that will be of great help for my students who have Apple and Android and Windows. I use Google blog to share our information, however I am going to share more with digital.
    The worlds were split in Mac and Androind, etc. So your suggetion to use Google is helpful. And the presentation is helpful, nice step-by-step. I have learned a lot. Thank you!

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