Make Your Own Follow the Bouncing Ball Lyrics Videos with Explain Everything

Make Your Own Follow the Bouncing Ball Lyrics Videos with Explain Everything

My accidental discovery

I was using the Explain Everything iPad app a couple of weeks ago (Explain Everything allows you to make “explainer” videos quickly and easily on your iPad) and it occurred to me that the red laser pointer which can be used to point out things when you’re recording your video looked just like the red bouncing ball in the “follow the bouncing ball” lyrics videos I remember from childhood. Are they still around now?

I put together a quick test-song. In the app I typed the lyrics of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, with the syllables separated (the way I would type lyrics into a notation program such as Sibelius or Finale) and then locked them in place on the screen.

After selecting the laser pointer option, I pressed record, started singing and pointed to each syllable with the laser pointer.

Magic! When you play back the video, the laser pointer appears to move across the lyrics on its own!

Video example

Here’s my example:

I decided to poll Facebook-land to see if other music teachers would find a tutorial on how to create your own bouncing ball videos useful and the answer was a resounding “yes”!

Step-by-step instructions

Here are the step-by-step instructions

[free downloadable version with pictures below]

BEFORE STARTING: download the Explain Everything app

1. Open Explain Everything, go to Settings menu and on the Record tab, next to Screencast recording quality, select 60 frames per second

2. Tap the Start a new project button (plus sign at top left) and select the first colour template.

3. Select the Text tool, tap on the empty slide and type the lyrics of your song with hyphens between syllables and a space underneath each line. You can tap and hold your finger on the Text button to select a different font and font size. Resize the box using the blue corner arrows if you need to spread the lyrics out. You may need to continue the lyrics on the next slide – that’s OK, because when you make the video recording you can advance through the slides

4. Lock the lyrics in place on the screen (this will stop the block of lyrics moving around later on): select the Inspector tool, and then tap on the block of lyrics. Tap on the Lock tab and then tap the Lock icon to lock them down

5. Get ready to record! Select the laser pointer (I used the middle-sized option)

6. Press the Record button at the bottom of the screen

7. Sing the song and drag your finger (the laser pointer) along the screen, pointing to each syllable in time. Advance to the next slide if necessary.

8. Press the Record button (or the Pause button) when you’ve finished to end the recording

9. Save your project: tap the folder icon at the bottom right of the screen, name your project and tap Save

10. Tap the Export Movie button and select your preferred option. I chose Movie to Camera Roll, but you might like to export directly to Dropbox, Google Drive or one of the other options

11. Locate the video and play it back to admire your handiwork!

Other ideas

1. One of the teachers on Facebook asked whether you could include guitar chord symbols. No problem – just type them in at the same time as typing the lyrics. You’ll need to make sure everything lines up the way you want it to, but it’s definitely possible. You could even create a chords-only version if you prefer a clearer screen.

2. Instead of lyrics, import a image of a score so that the bouncing ball can follow along with the notation.

3. Have the students draw their own stick notation using the pen tool in Explain Everything and then create their own bouncing ball video which shows them following along with the rhythm as you play it.

Download a printable copy of the instructions (with pictures!)

IMPORTANT PLEASE NOTE: As mentioned above, you will need to download the app Explain Everything to create these videos.  The instructions below show you how to use the app to create the bouncing ball videos.

Click on the button below (or the image) to have a printable copy of the instructions sent to your email inbox (you’ll also be sent a useful weekly tech tip article just like this one!).

Download instructions

More iPad Music Project Ideas!

iPad Projects for the Music Classroom includes 22 step-by-step projects you can use straight away with your music students. Take the guesswork out of choosing apps and discover how you can use iPads in an engaging and meaningful way.

Click on the image below for more information.

iPad Music Education Ebook

By |2018-09-07T01:28:22+00:00August 13th, 2014|iPads, Teacher Tech Tips|21 Comments

About the Author:

I love to simplify technology for music teachers. I help teachers from all around the world through the Midnight Music Community - an online professional development community where teachers can take online courses, ask questions and receive personalised help for the music tech goals.


  1. Will Braune August 14, 2014 at 9:35 am - Reply

    I can’t wait to try this out! What a great visual tool for students. You mentioned stick notation, but younger students could also follow iconic notation. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Katie August 25, 2014 at 9:35 am - Reply

      Thanks Will!

  2. Justin August 16, 2014 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie,
    This is a great tool. What if you don’t own an ipad? Can this tool operate in sibelius?

    • Katie August 25, 2014 at 9:37 am - Reply

      Hi Justin,

      No – this won’t work with Sibelius. There would be other ways to make similar videos with Sibelius and some screencapture software, but it would be quite a bit more involved. The iPad + Explain Everything makes it quick and easy 🙂

      – Katie

  3. Patricia February 12, 2015 at 11:00 am - Reply

    This is SUCH a great idea! Thanks for the clear instructions, and thanks for all your terrific advice.

  4. Kareen Thornock October 13, 2015 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    Hi! Thank you. This is a great idea! I found your post while looking for a way to create a bouncing-ball sing-along music video for my ESL students. I do not have an iPad, but am hoping to get some soon for my classroom. Do you know how to do this same process in Activboard? I’m not sure it has a laser pointer tool.


    • Katie November 5, 2015 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Karen – do you mean Activinspire software on a Promethean board? I would have thought that it did have a laser pointer tool. I’m pretty sure that the Smartboard software does and they often have similar features. The process would be roughly the same, but you would just need to record the end result if you wanted to make it into a video. You could use screencapture software to do that.

  5. John November 18, 2015 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    Katie – Thanks for the instructions. Unfortunately when I want to record over multiple slides every time I hit the next slide arrow the recording starts over – it doesn’t let me continuously record. I know that you have said that you can record over multiple slides/advance through the slides but I must be doing something wrong. Any suggestions? Thanks,

  6. Gabby February 2, 2016 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie, this is pretty great, thank you! I’d like to make a bouncing ball version of our school song for assemblies (to start with!). Can I insert the recording of the song into the first slide so it continues playing across all slides?

    • Katie April 6, 2016 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Gabby – no, I don’t believe that’s possible in Explain Everything. You could do a ninja trick though and create the bouncing ball/lyrics video in Explain Everything and export it as a movie file. Then put that movie file, plus the soundtrack together in a video editing program. It would be fairly straightforward – just make sure the tempo is exactly the same for both parts.

  7. Glen Beaucchamp May 6, 2016 at 9:57 am - Reply

    Hi Katie- Thanks for this info . i’m very interested in te concept as I have a wife who is a stroke patient with aphasia and I need to be able to present music to her via the bouncing ball technique . But try as I might I have not been able to find a downloaded copy of Explain Everything even on I tunes

    Can you direct me to a reseller please


    Glen Beauchamp

  8. Anna January 10, 2017 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    I’m thinking this would be great to add note letter names in instead of or as well as the lyrics. Can you add pictures into the slides too? If I spaced the text out more I could put pictures of how to play the notes on top of the lyrics?

    • Katie January 11, 2017 at 9:17 am - Reply

      Yes – absolutely (to both questions!). You can add images and move them around to any position, so yes – you could have letter names and/or fingering images instead of the lyrics or as well as the lyrics.

  9. Allen McCrary February 9, 2017 at 9:22 am - Reply

    I want to thank you. I’m now over 60 and had a very hard time reading as a child and now have a grandson having problems. I got to thinking about the bouncing ball last week and realized how much was it was for me and how I looked forward to sing along cartoons on Saturday mornings. My grandson (6 yrs) with a.d.d has a fantastic memory for songs I’m sure this will be a tremendous help for him and others. I might also learn something by trying to figure out how do this as well.

    • Katie February 9, 2017 at 5:19 pm - Reply

      Thanks Allen – that’s lovely to hear! I hope it helps your grandson.

  10. Pravin Bugwandeen June 8, 2017 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Please forward your telephone number and email.
    I have my own music and I want to put in the rolling ball and lyrics

    • Katie June 14, 2017 at 7:56 am - Reply

      Hi Pravin – there are instructions on how to do it yourself in the blog post and in the download at the bottom of the post.

  11. Amy H June 22, 2018 at 7:37 am - Reply

    Hi! Do you know if this could be used in a powerpoint presentation? Thanks so much!

    • Katie July 16, 2018 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Amy – I’m not sure it could be done very easily in Powerpoint. The way I would go about it is to create the video in Explain Everything as described and import the video you’ve made into your Powerpoint slide. That way you could still use Powerpoint to “present” the song.

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