Recently in the MindWing Blog I featured the Story Patch iPad app, which allows students to create stories according to provided structures or from scratch, resulting in a text and picture-based booklet.
I wanted to follow up that post with a different digital storytelling app that provides an easy means to create and publish dynamic animated stories with spoken audio and music! The app I speak of is Toontastic (an absolute BARGAIN at $1.99), whose creators at Launchpad toys have sought to bridge the gap created when students who primarily express themselves through play are suddenly expected to write stories (i.e., that gap we call “First Grade”). Toontastic uses the iPad’s multitouch interface and a play-like context beautifully as students are guided to create as many scenes as are needed to tell their story. The app would be a great tool to use in order to teach narrative elements and organization using Braidy the StoryBraid®, Story Grammar Marker®, or the MindWing’s Autism Collection and their associated manipulatives and story maps.
Here’s a visual tour of Toontastic for you:
Toontastic comes with an audio explanation of story structure that can be easily aligned with Story Grammar Marker®, as can be seen above. You can choose to create five different scenes in your animated movie, or just stick with one!
Choose a setting, then Character “Toys” to put into action! You can also draw your own settings and characters.
Character Toys themselves can be custom colored, then tapped and dragged around the screen. Tap Start Animation and the app will record as you move the characters and speak to provide an audio narration and/or dialogue. The app will then play back your animated scene!
For each scene, you can pick a music soundtrack that corresponds with the mood of the situation, connecting actions with internal responses of the characters.
When you are done with as many scenes as you’d like to create, tap Done and you can give your movie a title and genre, and share on ToonTube, Toontastic’s online community, if you’d like. The story is automatically also saved within the app.
Students will be excited to publish to ToonTube, where others can interact with their film by “liking” it. ToonTube also features model animations that would be a great context for story mapping of others’ creations using the SGM and other tools!
I recently had the opportunity to chat via Skype with Andy Russell, one of the creators of Toontastic. If you have a few minutes, it’s an interesting conversation about the background of the app, its creators’ sound belief in social interactionist (Vygotskian) language learning, and future plans for the app and Launchpad Toys.
I hope you’ll check out Toontastic — it’s a great app to add to your narrative toolbox!
Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, MA, and consults to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie (www.speechtechie.com), looks at technology "through a language lens." Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.