Story Starter~Creative Writing

App review by
Keri Wilmot, Common Sense Media
Story Starter~Creative Writing App Poster Image
Offers creative writing inspiration with some iffy content.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Includes many different multi-sensory ideas, including pictures, sounds, videos, and graphic organizers that can engage kids in the creative writing process, but some pictures and content include violent or potentially mature references.

Ease of Play

No directions are included. Some categories are confusing to understand at first, may be best used with parent support. Some emoji icons include many symbols that are not self-explanatory to young kids.

Violence

A skull, knife, and bloody, dripping needle are included as picture emojis, the "sound" category includes gunshots and what sounds like breaking glass from an earthquake. Many visual images are graphic and include a military sniper with an automatic weapon, explosions, fires, a creepy skeleton, vehicles in an accident, and two men wrestling, with one in a headlock.

Sex

A bikini bathing suit is included as a picture emoji. 

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drugs (a capsule) and a dripping needle are included as emoji pictures.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Story Starter~Creative Writing app features 15 different activities to help engage kids in the creative writing process. Many kids get frustrated with the writing process and have a hard time getting started. Looking at pictures, hearing different sounds, or using writing prompts that include a starter sentence or phrase can offer inspiration, resulting in a written response that is more developed with a lot of details. A graphic organizer, known as a "Story Mountain" in this app, is a structured template that is also included to help kids organize and plan out their ideas before writing. Not all of the strategies in this app are self-explanatory to kids, and some of the content embedded in various strategies are potentially troubling, like sounds of guns and images of a sniper or bloody, dripping needle. Note: There's no publicly posted privacy policy at the time of this review.

 

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What's it about?

The STORY STARTER~CREATIVE WRITING app uses 15 different multi-sensory activities that serve as creative writing prompts for kids participating in the writing process. Brainstorming and organizing thoughts and information for the creative writing process is a challenge for many kids. The app includes access to different activities that include pre-loaded sounds (like birds chirping, an audience clapping, gunshots), descriptive words ( like "comfortable," "media," "duke"), images (like a shark, a manatee, a football, police), sentences (like "'Stop!' shouted the policeman."), book and newspaper chapter titles, settings (like the theater, a train, an Afghan market, or a sniper hideout), phrases (like "mouth dry"), videos (like birds at the beach, snorkeling, a ladybug), and emojis (like happy faces, symbols, flags, vehicles). A Story Mountain graphic organizer helps kids organize their thoughts before writing. A "Who? What? When?" prompt shares fun ideas, such as, "An alien sailed a boat in November." An option is also available for kids to upload a photo from the camera roll or use the camera to personalize their writing prompt.

Is it any good?

This story starter definitely provides kids with many strategies to use during the writing process, but the organization is a bit tricky, and some of the sounds and images might not fit the target age. Overall, there's definitely a lot here that could get a kid's creative juices flowing. However, some of the categories are listed in an order that feels random and unorganized. Given that there are quite a few categories, it could be overwhelming for children to choose on their own and it could lead to distraction as they explore each one looking for the "perfect" prompt. A few categories, especially the sound one, which happens to be listed first, is very confusing and is the most difficult to navigate. Based upon the writing assignment and the child's abilities, narrow down some of the strategies that might be most appropriate. Some of the content seems unnecessarily provocative, like the sound of gunshots or a picture of a military sniper. A few writing prompts, while they may have been written to be funny in order to appeal to a child's imagination, can be a little insensitive, like "woman grows a beard." So while Story Starter~Creative Writing definitely includes some great ideas for kids to use in their writing, parents should definitely preview it ahead of time to get the most out of it and should have a solid plan for how they will use it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how getting started in the writing process may not always be easy. Which strategies in Story Starter~Creative Writing appeal most to your kid? Did you learn something new about your kid's preferred learning style? 

  • Even for kids who have a great imagination, there are always ways to improve upon writing. Did any of these strategies help with adding new vocabulary words or expanding on themes and situations more descriptively?  

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: storytelling, using supporting evidence, vocabulary, writing, writing clearly
  • Skills: Creativity: developing novel solutions, imagination, producing new content
    Self-Direction: academic development, initiative, motivation
  • Price: $3.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Release date: February 24, 2017
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 374.20 MB
  • Publisher: Matthew Knowles
  • Version: 2.0
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 10.0 or later

For kids who love writing and creativity

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