Animated StoryWriter/Lesson Planner Instructions

KidsVoyager Animated StoryWriter is a wonderful tool that allows your child to create talking, animated words and stories -- which may be saved and replayed -- while learning numerous comprehensive literacy skills.

Animated StoryWriter may be used with the Animated Story Lesson Planner, which provides your child with specific lessons to work on, covering specific literacy areas, or it may be used stand-alone. (The Lesson Planner is discussed below.) Words, sentences and stories may be created using a combination of lesson themes, Phonic Engine Spelling, keyboard input, and animations. (The best screen resolution for Animated StoryWriter is 1024 x 768 or higher, although some adjustments have been made so that 800 x 600 will also work.)

After the story is finished and "published" (converted into a Web page) it may be played back complete with animations, and saved to your computer to be replayed, enjoyed, and learned from again. (Narration and animation require use of the KidsVoyager Browser. However, Animated StoryWriter may also be used silently and without animation using Internet Explorer. Other browsers may also work to differing degrees.)

How to Use Stand-Alone
Enter words into the rectangular text area using a combination of the keyboard, Phonic Engine Spelling (requires KidsVoyager), and buttons which contain a number of "helper" words, including conjunctions and pronouns. Animate the story by highlighting an animation (clicking on it), then pressing the "Add Highlighted Animation" button. Use of the "Shift" or "Ctrl" keys with Phonic Engine Spelling or the helper words will capitalize the words. For easier use with Phonic Engine Spelling, we suggest that you click the "Navigation Menu On/Off" switch in the lower left hand corner of KidsVoyager to "off." This will create two windows: an upper Phonic Engine Window, and a lower Animated StoryWriter window.

Enter an animated movement by selecting a screen position -- either Left/Center/Right and Top/Center/Bottom, or by using numbers which correspond to positions on the screen. If you try a few combinations of Left/Center/Right and Top/Center/Bottom, you will get an idea of how numbers correspond to screen positions.

Words, animations and movements may be combined in any way you wish. Animations may be combined, one after the other, to produce amusing or interesting effects. Three animation "combinations" could use some further explanation: Read, Read Continued, Read Return; Write, Write Continued, Write Return; Tap, Tap Continued, Tap Return. "Read" causes Merlin to begin reading; if you wish him to continue reading, add one or more "Read Continued" animations; this looks better than using several "Reads" in a row. Also, "Read Return" causes a smooth transition from reading back to a normal position. "Write" works in a similar fashion, as does "Tap", which causes Merlin to tap on the screen while looking at you. If you play with these a bit, you will be able to assist your child if need be (and have some fun yourself, too!)

When finished with the animated story, enter a title and author. Then, press "Publish." The story will be displayed as a Web page with a spiral notebook background. Clicking the "speaker" icon next to it will cause it to be read aloud, along with any added animations. You may save the story to your home PC by clicking on the "Save" button. Once saved, you may listen to it whenever you wish, and email it to friends and family. (Note: The save button will not appear once the story is saved.)

During the story creation process, random, animated messages will be spoken. These messages are messages of praise, or quotations. If desired, this may turned off by unchecking "automatic Messages", near the bottom of the browser window. If Animated StoryWriter is used with the Lesson Planner, discussed below, you will have the option to choose whether or not your child receives these messages, or you may choose to leave it up to you child.

How to Use with Lesson Planner
The Lesson Planner complements the Animated StoryWriter in that in addition to allowing the satisfying creation of animated stories (spelled correctly, if used with Phonic Engine Spelling) which may be played back, it provides for structured lessons. These lessons may target any literacy, logical thinking, sequencing, or other skill, while still allowing your child the fun of creating an animated composition. Sample lessons are provided.

To use the Lesson Planner, type in one or more words into each grid box. One or more animations may also be entered into a grid box by 1. Clicking on the desired grid box, then 2. Clicking on the desired animation (listed under "Animations"). When "Launch Animated StoryWriter" is pressed, the words and animations in the grid will become buttons in the StoryWriter, which your child may click to write phrases, sentences and animated stories. Lessons may be saved and reloaded. The Lesson Planner also provides some pre-defined lessons, under "Lessons," which may be loaded by clicking on them.

Saving Lessons
After you are done entering words and animations into the grid (all boxes need not be filled; this may be desirable for some lessons), click on the button labeled "Copy Grid to Text." This will transfer the contents of the grid to the text area, formatted in a way which may be saved and reloaded. You will notice that the first character in the text area is a "/". You may write instructions above this slash, if desired. Look at some of the sample lessons (simply click on one from the list under "Lessons") for an example.

Once the contents of the grid have been transferred to the text area (along with any instructions you may wish to add), click "Copy Text to Clipboard." This will copy the contents of the text area to the Windows clipboard. You can then paste this into Notepad or any other text editor, and save it as a text (.txt) file, to a convenient location.

Loading Lessons
A saved lesson may loaded by clicking the "Browse" button under "Lessons", and selecting a previously saved Lesson text file. Once selected, simply press the "Load into Lesson Planner" button, and the lesson will be loaded. If you happen to have a problematic or unduly slow Internet connection, you may also copy the contents on the text file to the clipboard (e.g. open it in Notepad, click Edit/Select All, then Edit/Copy), and then paste it to the text area by first clicking in it, and then pressing Ctrl-V. Once the lesson is in the text area, you may press the "Copy Text to Grid" button, and the lesson will be fully loaded.

You may wish to use a word, such as "read" which has more than one pronunciation (and meaning) in a lesson. Lesson Planner provides for that as follows: if you type "read:say:red" into a grid box, it will be displayed on an Animated StoryWriter button as "read." However, when the mouse is placed over it in KidsVoyager, it will be pronounced with a short "e". If instead, if you enter "read:say:reed", it will be pronounced with a long "e". Text to speech engines typically pronounce most words such as these correctly in context, but in isolation, there obviously can be only one pronunciation. When the button is clicked, the word "read" will appear in the Animated story, and will most likely be pronounced as intended. You may wish to check a lesson over for this, however, and modify it if necessary.

Random Greetings and Animations Every several minutes, Animated StoryWriter will speak a friendly, positive-reinforcement message or an interesting quotation to your child. Using the Lesson Planner, this may be either specifically enabled, disabled, or left up to your child. Simply check the appropriate check-box at the bottom of the Lesson Planner Web page.

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