iMovie is a powerful and portable video production app for creating stunning HD movies and trailers. The app's streamlined interface is clutter-free and relatively easy to use. Kids first choose a template (8 for movies, 14 for trailers), then shoot or import video, photos, and audio. Intuitive, multi-touch gestures let kids assemble and edit media in the app's timeline: double tap to add clips, pinch to compress, tap and drag to trim and sequence clips, swipe to scroll through a project. There's an undo button to get rid of unwanted edits and a microphone button to add voiceover through the device's built-in mic or an external mic (for best audio quality). But this much power doesn't come without a huge download size (635 MB). Keep this in mind to best manage in-app storage space.
Outside of the timeline are three main sections: Video, Projects, and Theater. Video is equivalent to a library and displays mini-timelines of clips. Projects shows thumbnails of completed or projects in-progress. Single-tap a Project thumbnail to see its information and sharing options, which include email, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and CNN iReport. Theater houses all shared movies, trailers, and clips in one location for easy viewing (iCloud account is required). The in-app help has an indexed Table of Contents, feature-specific pop-up sticky-notes, and a handy keyword search field.
If you want to make movies with relative ease and in 1080p HD quality, with pro-like production and editing tools driven by multi-touch gestures, all with anywhere portability, then iMovie's a smart choice (especially now that it's free for iOS devices registered from September 2013 on). There's likely a learning curve for younger students and for those who don't have prior movie-making experience, but the in-app help is great and iMovie's web-based support community is beyond vast. Once kids grasp how the app works, they'll take over the director's seat and create amazing movies and trailers that can easily be shared among Apple devices and online through email and various social networks.
iMovie's lack of advanced video effects (most notably, video compositing, i.e. green screen) and its limited ability to format title fonts really don't detract from its power. Not only is iMovie a great movie-making app to document school activities, but it's also a powerful tool to teach cinematography, story structure, visual composition, video editing, and sound production. The bonus is that iMovie works seamlessly with all of Apple's creativity and productivity apps (mobile and otherwise), so it's compatible with GarageBand, iPhoto, iTunes, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
There are countless ways to use iMovie in the classroom, from making movies based on kids' original writings, to creating a trailer of their favorite author's book, to making mock commercials or promotional videos to support school-based projects. Kids will benefit from learning some simple videography skills, too, which can transform any video or photography projects from good to jaw-droppingly great. Introduce cinematic techniques such as rule of thirds, balancing elements, leading lines, symmetry and patterns, viewpoint, background, and depth of field, to name a few.