Making Apps Out of Paper

One of the most popular ideas we explored in our Fractus Learning course ‘Programming for Kids – How to Make Coding Fun‘ was using printed templates to create ‘paper apps’ with your kids. Not only is this a really fun class exercise,  it is also an excellent skill to build before advancing into real app development in the future.

A great chance for kids to explore their ideas and start thinking about user experience, one of the major advantages of making ‘paper apps’ is that no expensive technology is required at all. No one-to-one. No BYOD. Just a few pencils, printouts and a whole lot of imagination.

Programming for Kids: Sketching & Drawing

Why Paper and Not Code?

As talked about in the video, there are three real advantages to experimenting with paper before jumping into code or hands-on development:

1. Paper apps are super cheap and easy

If you have access to a printer, then every member of your class can be involved in creating ‘paper apps’. Not only is printing sheets a lot cheaper than buying devices for every student, it is also a lot easier to manage in your classroom or school.

2. Paper apps are throwaway

With such little effort invested in setting up and creating paper apps, kids are free to experiment and let their ideas run wild. The best part is that early coding frustration can be avoided as it is a lot easier to change an app on paper than it is in code.

3. Paper apps are a critical part of real software development

Creating ‘paper apps’ is more than just a fun exercise. The process of designing on paper is an essential part of the creative process in real app development. So the skills your kids learn on paper, will translate to real software development in the future.

 

Download the Printable Templates

Paper Apps - Tablet Template

Tablet Sketchpad

Click to view the pdf
(right click and ‘save as’ to download)

Paper Apps - Phone Template

Phone Sketchpad

Click to view the pdf
(right click and ‘save as’ to download)

Paper Apps - Browser Template

Browser Sketchpad

Click to view the pdf
(right click and ‘save as’ to download)

 

From Paper to Prototype

The best part about creating ‘paper apps’ is that there are a number of tools to help you turn your paper into a real interactive prototype. Just snap a few photos of your finished sheets using your iPhone or iPad, and these apps will turn your static drawings into real functional mockups:

POP – Prototyping on Paper

POP

Have an app idea? Draw it on paper and use POP to make it running on your phone!  The workflow is ridiculously simple:

  1. Design on Paper
  2. Take Pictures
  3. Link & Play

 

Launch

Launch – Simple Prototyping

With Launch you can build your mobile app prototypes blazingly fast. Just grab the mockups and within minutes you’re ready to show your app to the world. Works on desktop or with our native mobile apps.

 

Have any other ideas or tips on brining app development into the classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Feature image courtesy of Flickr, waagsociety.

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