Toontastic, by Launchpad Toys, is one of the best apps when it comes to creativity! The developers are spot on, when they say, “We’re creating digital toys and tools that empower kids to create, learn & share their ideas through play.” In case you are not familiar with this wonderful app, Toontastic is an educational app designed in partnership with a crew from Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and Zeum: San Francisco’s Children’s Museum. It’s a creative learning tool for the iPad that teaches storytelling skills through playful cartoon creation.
Children’s Media expert Warren Buckleitner reviewed this app, stating: “Toontastic proudly goes where no app has gone before.” And oh, how right he is about that! From the get-go kids are forced to start with a story planner. Here they can arrange the focal points of their production. Setup, Conflict, Challenge, Climax, and Resolution are all laid out for kids in what they call the Story Arch. Teachers will love this step because it necessitates children to plan and move along incrementally! Children are guided to create each scene as they add animation and music. By being asked to follow the basic plot line, kids are encouraged to think, plan, execute, sequence, and follow the core elements in storytelling. Sure helped me in conjuring up my first cartoon!
Toontastic features a ToonTube that enables you to scroll around a 3D globe and view cartoons created by other kids around the world. Kids are able to share those cartoons via email, Facebook, and twitter and then “Like” those cartoons to get them Showcased in the all new “Featured” section. Toontastic’s goal is to create what they’re calling a “Global Storytelling Network for Kids, by Kids” – a place where kids can learn about the world around them, through their peers. Andy Russell, from Toontastic, thinks Lev Vygotsky and the rest of the Social Learning researchers are thrilled, as they strongly feel that community plays a central role in the process of “making meaning.”
As for the classroom, let’s imagine the endless opportunities for assignments in all areas, to learn from, and contribute to this global community. As kids work collaboratively, either learning from or creating their own stories, we allow children’s imaginations to soar! As educators, we’re challenged to create new opportunities for kids to become producers of creative expression using what they have learned. Toontastic is a wonderful outlet for just this.
Toontastic is also a wonderful toy for children to use at home. Our friend’s daughter, Haley, spent hours plotting and planning and editing her creation. This was her first time with this app and she had a ball! She taught us that you could change the colors of the characters clothes, hair, and skin, something we had overlooked. When asked about her experience with the app, she not only told us that it was exciting, with lots going on, she said she thought it was a good way to learn. Another one of our app testers, David, was intrigued by all of the options and left alone he learned the program all by himself, showing what a user-friendly program this is for youngsters. They both gave the most emphatic “YES!” when asked if they wanted to play again. This app gives kids the opportunity to make believe, something that is sorely missing in much of today’s society.