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

Toontastic 3D

Toontastic 3D

Fall 2017 Mobile Apps
Ages: 4 - 10 yrs.
Developer: Google
Platform: iPad

Toontastic provides a platform for children to create their own animated stories and reports. Kids create characters and a setting, add a voice narration, move the characters around, and build a production of about three to five minutes in length (though storytellers can add additional segments to make the length open-ended). The app offers an extensive library of characters and settings (some of the components are from Cars 3 and from Fruit Ninja, so there's a slight but not invasive or pervasive commercial tie-in) or players can start from scratch designing their own. The settings that are provided are much broader than a single screen, so storytellers are free to move around and explore. The installed characters are slightly less satisfying, as disproportionately few of the pre-designed characters are female -- no doubt creative young artists will quickly remedy that, but one must hope the developers will also work on fixing this deficiency in later releases.

The app provides access to an entertaining library of kid-made examples for inspiration, and it includes videos from the Pixar team that talk about animation and story development. The app teaches story structure by providing a three-part or five-part outline; as kids enter the stages they receive a quick summary of the goals of the stage. Players can expand the outline by adding repeats of story stages as needed.

Parents need to allow access to the microphone so storytellers can provide the voiceover; the Pixar team encourages kids to try out their acting skills by providing a range of voices, or players can work with friends and music to get even more creative in the production. As they tell the story, kids can move the characters and props around and change their orientation within the scene.

Toontastic 3D also provides an appropriate outline for a science report. As any parent, teacher, or research scientist can tell, producing the report is the least appealing part of science; this app makes that step fun while encouraging a systematic approach.

Toontastic 3D Toontastic 3D is a wonderful creative outlet for all budding storytellers, young scientists, or those who increasingly blur the lines between the two— perhaps this is where the next documentary makers and Pixar artists will get their start.

Emily Crawford   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Look for this product at:
Available on iTunes

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