Toonia Storymaker is a new app by Third Frame Studios for the iPad and iPad mini. Parents, I suggest you spend some time familiarizing yourself with this app before you show it to your child, as it includes a number of options and features. The video posted on YouTube (search: Toonia Storymaker Demo- see bottom of the post) is also extremely helpful. On the other hand, children (ages 4 and up) will need only a few demonstrations before they jump right into Toonia World. Here’s how it works: The opening screen offers three choices: create a story, (view) Toonia Worlds, and read (saved) stories. I started with Toonia Worlds to see all the different characters (boys, girls, animals, aliens) and settings (home sweet home, school, seasons/outdoors, space, fairy tales) that are available. A mini-book is created page by page, adding characters and props as necessary. The characters can be modified using control buttons that appear in a circle around the character when it is tapped. These buttons control size, body position, facial expression, colors (including skin tones), and speech bubbles. There is also a delete button that removes the character from that page. Pages can be copied and pasted or deleted easily. Once the page is finished, click on it and it is added to the story.
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The underlying philosophy of the developers at Third Frame Studios is that while children learn a lot by reading other people’s stories, they learn considerably more by writing their own. The subject matter of each mini-book is less important than is the process of taking an idea and translating it into pictures and words that tell a story. As children become more proficient in their story writing, the mini-books get longer and the stories become more involved. I really like the layout of the app- it’s definitely geared toward younger kids, and the controls give the child lots of freedom to create their characters. One option I would like the developers to consider is adding a title page to each mini-book. It would make specific stories easier to find and it would help personalize the stories even more.
Toonia Storymaker is the kind of app that could easily become a favorite for an imaginative child. At $5.99, it’s on the higher end of the price range for educational apps, but with so many choices included, it’s worth the price. Although there are no ads and no in-app purchases available in Toonia Storymaker, there are links to Facebook and Twitter, so parents need to monitor when and how the stories are shared. Toonia Storymaker a smart choice for parents who want to encourage their children in writing. Its educational value and enjoyment potential make it a Top Pick for Fun Educational Apps.
Toonia Storymaker is available for download via the iTunes App Store - Universal App
Bio- Julie Peterson is a speech/language pathologist (SLP) currently working in a school setting, serving children with special needs ages 6-14. She wants all children to see themselves as authors.
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