Toontastic App Review
App Name: Toontastic
Mom’s Rating: 5/5
Kids’ Rating: 5/5
Skills Developed: Storytelling, Cartooning, Drawing, Narration, Writing
Available On/Price: iPad – free with in-app purchases available for additional characters and settings
Reviewed on: iPad
Toontastic let’s children explore the storytelling process through the creation and sharing of their own original cartoons on the iPad. Using either their own drawings (created in-app with a simple set of drawing tools) or Toontastic’s playsets – with their default colors or custom colors (some are included for free, others are available as in-app purchases) – children choose their setting, characters, music, provide their own voice-overs, and learn about the major parts of storytelling while animating their work using simple tap and drag gestures.
Toontastic’s playset characters have built-in animation, so when your child is ready to record their scene, they simply tap and drag the characters around while they do the voices and narration. Animations can be layered over-top of existing animations in order to create more complex scenes. Cartoons in progress can be saved and edited at a future date as well.
While Toontastic never includes writing on the cartoon screen, it does encourage the development of understanding the form stories take. Children are given six screens to fill with verbal instructions on the type of content most appropriate for each part of the story. They are Setup, Conflict, Challenge, Climax, or Resolution, and taken together and practiced repeatedly, a sound understanding of the most common storytelling form will be absorbed. An included Parent/Teacher guide gives an overview of how to use the app and how you can more actively engage your child’s learning as you go through the storytelling process.
Completed cartoons can be shared on ToonTube and cartoons created by children all over the world can be downloaded and viewed for free through this sharing network as well. This online sharing method allows your child to share their work with family and friends even if they don’t own a copy of Toontastic – just send them to ToonTube to find the cartoons.
What We Liked:
Toontastic is the sort of app that takes my children into quiet corners for hours as they work on creating their own stories. Sometimes they work individually, at other times they collaborate – but their imaginations are always fired up the moment they open Toontastic.
There are detailed instructions given throughout the app that can be accessed with the help button and the parent guide, but my girls found the spoken directions and their own experimentation sufficient to teach them the ropes of the app. It’s easy to learn and use, whether working with Toontastic’s characters and settings or with custom made drawings.
This app is truly a delight – my girls have made some very silly stories that just tickled their funny bones and they’ve laughed pretty hard while watching me animate and tell some of my own stories as well! They have both made their own drawings (both backgrounds and characters), custom-colored Toontastic’s characters, and used the playsets as-is. Monsters, vets, princesses, jungle animals, pirates, fire fighters, neighborhood kids, astronauts, and so many more – there are many rich story-telling possibilities that the in-app playsets can inspire.
A fabulous first step for teaching storytelling and creative writing, Toontastic lets children internalize story structure in this visual medium before putting pencil to paper. It also provides opportunities for meaningful drawing practice to encourage reluctant artists and could even be used to create elaborate narrations of favorite storybooks (oral narration and summarization are vitally important pre-writing skills).
What We Didn’t Like:
I’d really like it if you could set up user profiles or separate sets of cartoons for multiple children. My five-year-old accidentally wrote over my eight-year-old’s first cartoon before we could load it to ToonTube. That was a very, very sad day.
Toontastic makes exploring the world of creative storytelling a complete delight. Deeply motivating and truly a joy to use, your children will beg you for a chance to explore the basic structure of stories as they craft their own animated cartoons. This free app is incredibly rich and full of features (but don’t be surprised if your children ask you to buy some expansion sets – they are fabulous). Toontastic isn’t an app you want to miss – go get it and give it a spin!
Have you downloaded this app? Let us know what you and your children thought – leave a comment!