Stuart Gent is the founder of PrimeVR, the UK’s leading VR workshop provider. Since setting up in 2017, PrimeVR has worked with over 500 schools and nearly 100,000 pupils to deliver engaging, curriculum-aligned KS2 workshops.
Augmented Reality (AR) is a great tool for encouraging creative writing in the classroom. By placing digital 3D objects in your physical surroundings, pupils can experience something as if it’s actually there. If you’re new to AR and you’re not too sure how it works, you can find out more about it here.
How can AR be used in creative writing?
There are two types of AR which I’m going to discuss in this article. I think both types are a great way of encouraging imagination, and they will give your pupils a chance to interact with different characters and settings as if they are actually there.
1. Placing 3D objects around you
Most AR apps used in education allow pupils to place 3D digital objects around them. For example, you can place planets, historical artefacts, animals and even characters from stories. Many of these AR apps are free to download and they include in-app purchases to unlock further content or functionality.
Most of the AR apps allow pupils to place stationary 3D objects which pupils can walk around to inspect using an iPad or tablet. This can be great for helping pupils describe the characteristics and physical appearance of different objects. Some of them, however, will also provide pupils with the opportunity to move the digital objects and sound effects will also accompany them. I’ve included a couple of my favourite apps below as examples of what creative writing you can do by simply placing 3D digital objects in your surroundings.
One of my favourite animal AR apps is Eugene’s Pets. There are more than ten different animals to choose from and each one of them comes with a set number of actions / animations that the pupils can select to move the animal. Each one also comes with sound effects.
Another feature I like with this app is that your pupils can take pictures or record videos with the animals. For example, you could ask your pupils to work in pairs to create a leaflet or information booklet about all of the animals that you would find at the zoo.
Monster Park is another animal-based AR app, but it focuses on dinosaurs rather than generic animals. This would be perfect for any KS1 classes covering dinosaurs as part of their topic. What I like about this app is that you can add the dinosaurs into a full scene, so not only does it provide a stimulus for writing about the dinosaurs but children can also imagine what the environment would be like.
Monster Park only comes with one free dinosaur (thankfully it’s a T-Rex), but it is relatively cheap to purchase additional dinosaurs.
2. Placing AR Portals
Personally, I think this has huge potential for encouraging creative writing. Pupils can place an augmented reality portal which they can then walk through. The portal will appear as if it has been placed in your physical surroundings and then pupils, holding an IPad or tablet, will be able to walk through the portal door into another world. Once they are inside the portal, they will be able to look all around (360 degrees) to investigate what the other world looks like. From inside the portal, pupils will also be able to see the portal door to return, and it will provide a glimpse of the real world so that the magic of the portal remains.
There aren’t many apps which have utilised AR portals but I’ve included a couple of examples below to get you started.
This app is a good starting point for getting familiar with AR portals. There are a number of different ones to choose from, including beaches, forests, mountains, bridges and even computer-generated ancient worlds. You can also change the look of the portals but you’ll need to upgrade to unlock them. You can choose from a Rick and Morty portal and a Dr Strange style one.
You can see the app in action below, thanks to Steve Bambury on his YouTube channel.
Enter the Room
This app is another great example of how AR portals can bring a story to life. Although there is only one AR portal available with this app, I think it provides a better experience than the AR Portal app. It’s all set inside a child’s bedroom and gives users a perspective of what it would be like to be a child in a war-torn country. The detail inside the child’s bedroom is excellent and the accompanying sound effects really brings it to life. This app would be a great stimulus for a writing activity such as a diary entry or a letter.
AR is a brilliant way of encouraging creative writing and the examples provided above are a great starting point. At PrimeVR, we are currently working on a new project which is going to combine the features of AR with storytelling to help provide children with immersive experiences to encourage creative writing. Keep an eye out for future developments!
If you have any questions regarding how AR can be used in education, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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