Have you ever had writer’s block? Staring down at a blank page and waiting for inspiration is frustrating and sometimes the best idea is to start with someone else’s. Shake-a-Phrase is a vocabulary app that helps students do just that. Shake-a-Phrase is an app that helps students develop their creative writing skills. Designed for ages 8 and up, students just shake their iPhone or iPad and the app randomly generates funny sentences to help spark some creativity. There are three sections in the app: Shake It!, Story Starter and Quiz Me, and players can select specific themes from Shake Starter, Animals, Fairytale, Monsters and Sports.
In Shake It! Players physically shake the app or press the Shake It! button, and a silly random sentence appears. Then if you tap on a word, a definition will pop-up. For example, in this sentence ‘The secretive yet annoyed griffin pelted the sneaky scientist’, tapping on ‘griffin’ brings up – ‘noun: a mythical creature with a body of a lion and head of an eagle’. The information box will show if a word is a noun, an adjective or a verb.
This is great to help students widen their vocabulary and gain a deeper understanding of particular words and how they are used in phrases. The vocabulary list of more than 2,000 words and definitions was compiled by teachers and parents, and includes a broad range of entertaining words.
The Story Starter really ignites the imagination and encourages students to come up with their own version of what happens next in the story. In the Quiz Me section, players have to select the correct noun, verb, adjective, preposition or conjunction in the sentence. Teachers can choose to filter which grammar parts to concentrate on, by turning options on and off in the menu. There are a number of ways to use the app in school, as demonstrated by Mrs. Colacicco, a 3rd Grade teacher at the Patricia A. DiChiaro School in Westchester, NY. She used Shake-a-Phrase for
a Halloween creative writing exercise in her classroom, getting the students to work together in groups of 2-3 to write their own creepy and silly story endings. Using the app she ‘Shook up’ a load of Monster-themed Story Starters and printed the individual screens for the kids to use. Shake-a-Phrase is the perfect addition for a creative writing or language class and is really quite addictive, even for an adult.