Bottom Line: A fun app providing a great way to encourage creativity and language with drawing. Needs a few fixes, though, and very difficult to use with a stylus.
Magic Doodles HD, by G S Phinest, is a great new drawing app designed to encourage creativity by helping kids’ drawings come to life. There are currently 26 pages to doodle, with more pages promised in later updates.
In this app, part of a picture is presented with a written prompt to finish the scene. After completion, the user presses a play button and the drawing itself is animated. On one doodle, the screen shows a witch and a big pot with the prompt, “Draw what is in the witch’s cauldron.” After the child draws something in the pot and presses the play button, the object drawn in the pot jumps out.
Other great scenes include “What is being crushed by the elephant?” with a big elephant foot ready to stomp and the drawing is crushed when animated, “What is coming out of the jack-in-the-box?” and “Draw a friend for the hippo on the seesaw.” Some animations are very silly, such as the hippo flipping the friend off the seesaw and off the screen! Others are more straightforward, like a lion chasing a drawing right off of the screen.
There are eight colors, three line widths, and an eraser in the tools area, accessed by tapping a painting palette at the bottom. Along with the play button and the palette, there is also a redo button, which erases the entire drawing. The user moves between scenes by pressing the arrow keys on the bottom right and left of the screen.
This app may just be my new favorite for therapy (where we don't use a stylus). I used it as a reward for good work, and the students were very motivated to earn another turn. I’ve used paper versions of this doodle game several times in therapy, but those aren't animated, of course, and each attempt requires a new piece of paper.
I also used it in therapy to work on using more descriptive words and to answer “wh-questions” about each picture, as well as to practice absurdities (Can a house really be shot out of a cannon? Why not?) One of my favorite activities involved having the students make a prediction about what would happen when the drawing was animated. Teachers could use it as a part of a writing center, using the app’s question as the writing prompt.
There are a few changes that would make this strong app even better. First, it would be great to be able to save a drawing into a gallery. Leaving the page erases the drawing completely, so even an accidental tap on the arrow key requires the user to start over. This is a MAJOR problem for a child using a stylus as if they even slightly rest their arm on the bottom of the iPad while writing, the app moves to the next page and they lose their work. With children using a stylus, this made the app almost unusable.
I would also love to have an option to have a recording for each drawing, and it would be even better if that narrative could also be saved in a gallery. This would tie in creativity with drawing and language. Also, having the questions narrated would obviously be of help to younger children playing by themselves.
Technically, there were also a few issues. First, the app only animates a certain section of the screen on each page, but that boundary area isn’t marked. This resulted in just a portion of the drawing being animated on some occasions. Of course, on subsequent plays the users figured out to limit the drawing to a certain area, but a light outline clearly marking where to draw would be helpful.
Also, the area to draw is sometimes very small. On the page prompting “What is the lion chasing?” the area to draw about ¼ of the total screen. For the “What creature is growing in the egg?” story, the egg is rather small, leaving a lot of white space on the screen. It would have been useful, in this example, to have a slightly bigger egg.
This app is completely safe for use by children. There are absolutely no external links or extra settings. In fact, the developer isn’t even listed in the app. There is also a free lite version with six pages for parents or teachers to try out first, but the free version does have an external link to the App store to purchase the full version.
I found this app fun for any child old enough to draw through approximately the 5th grade. Some older children might also enjoy it—I admit I had fun drawing a few of my own creations! Definitely give at least the lite version a try.
If you would like to download Magic Doodles HD or the free lite version please support Smart Apps for Kids by using the links provided.
This review was completed by Heather Hetler, who works as an elementary school SLP and is a full-time graduate student in Speech-Language Pathology. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.
Five Stars: The best of the best. We've reviewed, featured, given away, and tested thousands of apps and only given 19 apps the full five stars.
Four-and-a-half Stars: One of our Top Picks. We highly recommend this app.
Four Stars: Just a notch below the best. Recommend.
Three-and-a-half Stars: Has enough strong points to recommend if you have a specific need is this area. Definitely take a look.
Three Stars: Worth a look, but only worth downloading if it targets a specific educational target you are looking for.
Below Three Stars: Not recommended.