ScreenPlay -- program your story

App review by
Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Media
ScreenPlay -- program your story App Poster Image
Lights, camera, coding action in fun programming puzzler.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational value

Kids can learn coding skills by using step-by-step decision making and solving puzzles that incorporate basic coding knowledge.

Ease of play

Easy to use. Icons glow to provide clues on what to do next. If the player does not program the actor correctly, he or she can try again or start over.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that ScreenPlay -- program your story introduces kids to coding concepts through puzzles embedded in acting scenes. Players must program characters to move to a point on the stage and then set the scene into action. As they work through different worlds with themes and scenes, they encounter new coding puzzles. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

To begin SCREENPLAY -- PROGRAM YOUR STORY, choose the first "movie" entitled The Lost Code by tapping the poster. Tap on 1 for the first scene, and then locate the starred square where the director wants your character to stand. Tap the right- or left-turn arrow or the footprint (walking forward) the appropriate number of times to move the character to the starred square. Tap the director and your character when you have your sequence "programmed," and you're ready to move. Watch the character move -- either correctly to the starred square or incorrectly. If you did the completed actions correctly, you'll move onto the next scene/puzzle. If not, you can try again or start all over. Some highlighted clues appear. Tap the pause icon for two options: Play or Go Back.

Is it any good?

The movie theme/puzzle game format on this app is a novel way to get kids interested in coding concepts. ScreenPlay -- program your story is so engaging that players can get sucked into moving from scene to scene to see what will appear next and what new challenge they'll be asked to complete. The titles are clever (The Lost Code, Compilerman, and more), and the actor and director characters are cute. More tutorials or verbal instruction could be useful for kids entirely new to the concepts used in coding. Overall, though, this app is easy to use and a fun way to learn.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of learning to code with fun games such as ScreenPlay -- program your story. How is coding like another language? What can you do if you know how to code? 

  • Talk about your character's abstract movements on the screen in concrete terms. Especially for younger users of this app, reinforcing how to turn left and right, move forward and backward, and move up and down, for example, will be important to set them up for success.

  • Find natural stopping points to end play since it's easy to move from one challenge to the next without stopping.

App details

For kids who love coding and STEM

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