Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Toontastic

Toontastic

Spring 2011 Mobile Apps
Ages: 5 - 10 yrs.
Artist: Mark McLawhorn
Designer: Thushan Amarasiriwardena
Designer: Andy Russell
Developer: Alex Fajkowski
Publisher: Launchpad Toys
Download Price: $2.99
Platform: iPad
Review:

Toontastic lets users create their own animated stories (cartoons) from a selection of predefined settings and characters, or digitally draw scenes and characters of their own. That in itself is pretty cool, but it's the educational element that makes this app stand out. Users do not make up stories haphazardly but are guided through the traditional storytelling arc of Setup, Conflict, Challenge, Climax and Resolution. It might sound like complex material for little ones, but it's presented in a very easy-to-absorb manner. A narrator guides you through each step of creating a scene and if you want to go deeper into storytelling elements with your child, the parent / teacher instructional pages are an excellent tool.

After you select or draw the elements in a scene and add background music for mood, you are prompted to animate. This lets users move characters around to create action -- they might jump off a ship or wave their arms or run across a field -- and then narrate the story. The finished project is slick: your child's creative work is a full cartoon that can be shared with friends or family through YouTube. The credits list impressive educational partners - The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Stanford, the San Francisco Children's Museum -- and it's evident.

The one downside, and it's minor, is the limited number of predefined settings and characters. The app does let users draw their own but the digital paint tool might frustrate some.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2011 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

Look for this product at:
Launchpad Toys
http://www.launchpadtoys.com

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