Amanda Jane Duncan’s 12-year-old son Josh is left-handed and he found handwriting difficult. Due to this, she found she developed a tendency to write for him.
But she still wanted Josh to enjoy the creative process, so started to use visual techniques to help him form an interest in stories. It was something he enjoyed doing and the images helped broaden his vocabulary.
After seeing how much it benefitted her son, Duncan decided she wanted to make the resource available to other children who may also be struggling.
She began creating an image bank for what would become Scribeasy - an app that helps children compose their stories with images before writing them.
“I was compelled to scale and grow it for the children who might otherwise become locked out of life-long opportunities because they lack confidence in writing and articulating their feelings,” the 53-year-old from Dagenham told HuffPost UK.
To form the image bank, Duncan walked for miles and took photos of what she saw. Each night she cut out the elements from the pictures and used these to help her son form stories using his imagination.
She read about the benefits of visual learning (images have been shown to improve learning by up to 400%) and wanted to use this as the basis of her app.
“Ultimately I wanted to offer children and educators a remarkable range and a resource enabling storytelling outcomes of the best quality,” she said.
The idea was simple: To make writing more inclusive by adding fun, adventure and creativity.
So how does it work?
Scribeasy stimulates thinking and the imagination, a bit like a digital toy box.
In the app, any number of pictures (backgrounds, objects and characters) can be selected from the ‘Image Bank’ and grouped to form an ‘Art Pack’. Children then create their scene using these images and begin to write their story.
While they are writing or explaining what is happening in their scene, children can use the integrated thesaurus to increase their vocabulary, exploring new words that can be read and heard.
The process can be made easier for kids as the story can be dictated rather than written. After they have created their story, there is a playback feature so they can hear back the narrative.
Duncan explained: “Overall Scribeasy is an inventive method where the learning is carried out through the crafting process of writing, which encourages a mindset for curiosity and building inquiry skills - the results are deeply personal.”
Duncan’s mission is to support families and schools by giving them access to a platform that helps make writing inclusive and more accessible.
“By helping children overcome their fears of the blank page at scale, we can help individuals and their communities learn by thinking - which are keys to innovation, opportunity and long-term wellbeing,” she said.
Scribeasy is purchased via an app through subscription plans, starting from £12 a year. Click here for more information.