Bottom Line: Pleasantly reminds me of old felt storyboards and has terrific art work, but it needs more features. Works well as a combo activity.
There is a lot to like about the My Story For Kids app, by developer L2 Ready. It's a simple app created to encourage imagination and storytelling in young children, specifically designed for ages 2-6. The app includes 50 different pictures and three background screens (night, day, and plain white). The pictures cover several different themes, including fairy tales, pirates, a house, and woodland creatures.
The art, created by illustrator Geffen Refaeli, is certainly among the best and most engaging available in a kids app.
The child simply taps to choose a picture from the outside edge of the screen. After each picture is placed, it can be tapped again to hear a brief audio. Some of the items have multiple versions that are revealed after each tap—there are five different styles of flowers and trees, for example. Shake the iPad to clear the scene and start a new story, or take off individual pictures by dragging all the way off the screen.
There is no info screen or tutorial, so it wasn’t until I played the app for a while that I realized all of the animation that could happen. For example, a unicorn can be added to a scene facing to the right. Tapping it gives a whinny sound. A quick swipe from right to left changes its orientation and dragging it across the screen moves the unicorn with a gallop sound. While most of the pictures don’t add sound when moving (they just have one sound when tapped), those that do are fun to find.
Independently, my 4-½ year old daughter didn’t spend too much time on this app, but when I sat down with her, she created some very elaborate stories, including a fairy granting a Barbie doll to a little girl and a sailboat to a little boy. The app reminds me of the old felt boards for the ability to create and tell stories without a lot of fancy features. As is often the case with kids, sometimes simplicity encourages great creativity.
I also used it in therapy. The most enjoyable was a barrier game with two iPads. One student created a scene, and then gave directions to another student to try to recreate what they had done. When the scene was complete, we compared the two iPads. Vocabulary, articulation, language production, and following directions can be targeted with this app. Teachers with a projector and the appropriate iPad connection could also use it to tell stories to the whole class, or to use for a group story building activity.
While I appreciated the simplicity and open-ended creativity, I felt My Story for Kids didn’t fully utilize enough of the benefits of the iPad. There is no gallery or easy way to save each scene and a story is limited to just one screen. A screenshot picture can be taken, of course, but the ability to string several screens together would enhance the storytelling ability. An option to record the child describing their story, like in Toontastic, would also be a significant upgrade.
Shaking the screen to clear is a nice idea, but it was not very sensitive. While it's a nice consideration so the child doesn’t accidentally clear his/her work just by moving the iPad, I observed my daughter shaking vigorously to try to get a new screen. I was worried the iPad would fly out of her hands, and I also wouldn’t let the kids in therapy shake it on their own lest they hit the table with the iPad. A button to clear, even one that needs to be pressed for a few seconds, would be a safer option.
Overall, this app provides a good platform for storytelling and narrative development, but could use some enhancement to really capitalize on the iPad’s features. There is not a free version, but if you have a child or student in the target age range (2-6) and would like to work with them on storytelling, this app is worth taking a look at.
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Once upon a time, an app reviewer named Heather Hetler went on an adventure with her three kids and speech therapy students. They fought dragons, rode on unicorns, and lived in a castle—at least until someone shook the iPad. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.