Story Wheel

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Story Wheel App Poster Image
Fun shared storytelling can help with language skills.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to tell a story and use their imaginations. The section on "How to tell a story" includes some great ideas for kids to incorporate into their stories with fun language -- such as "spark," "quest," and "harmony." They'll use their imaginations to develop stories from the prompts, and they'll learn to collaborate with others to create something when they pass the stories back and forth. Story Wheel is a fun creation tool that teaches storytelling, collaboration, and creativity.

Ease of Play

This pass-back-and-forth app is easy to learn, and icons and images make it simple for nonreaders to navigate. Each story segment is limited to 30 seconds, so kids will have to watch the timer to wrap up or risk being cut off. They'll also need to be prepared with the next part of the story before recording. But re-recording is always an option. 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The start-page wheel includes a link to the iTunes app store for more Story Wheel apps. The complete version (the one reviewed here) includes all story options (Story Teller, Knights and Princesses, Space, and Pirates) for $2.99, or they can be purchased individually for $0.99 each.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Story Wheel is fun for all kids and especially great for those who may struggle with language-based learning challenges or fine-motor function. Kids have an opportunity to play with up to three others, record their voice, practice their speech, and sequence ideas. Story Wheel can be purchased with all story themes included -- Story Teller, Pirates, Space, and Knights and Princesses -- for $2.99, or each theme can be purchased separately for $0.99. Parents should be aware that sharing a story means that it -- and the creator's username -- is posted publicly on the developer's website. 

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What's it about?

With STORY WHEEL, kids create stories, listen to their stories played back, and share them (optionally). They start by choosing "create a story" from the wheel (also picking a theme, if they're using the full version) and then add up to four players, who will each take turns telling parts of the story. Each player spins the story wheel, which lands on an object that will serve as a prompt for their part of the story, as well as for the animated illustration that accompanies that part of the story during playback. Kids have only 30 seconds to record their part of the story, with as few as two or as many as 12 parts possible for each story. The record button is a red square, and kids simply tap it to start and stop recording. They have the option to redo their recording or save it and move to the next player. The next player then spins the wheel and repeats the process until the story is complete (or reaches 12 parts); then you have the option of saving the story or not. Kids can share their story with friends (which publishes the recording and their usernames on a public website), play it back, email it as an iBook, or delete it. Saved stories can be listened to or shared later, but they can't be accessed to add to or revise.

Is it any good?

Story Wheel is easy to use, and kids really enjoy creating their own stories -- especially if a parent is joining in on the fun. One drawback is that there's no way to revise saved stories or choose a specific object prompt, but the randomness of the spin adds to the fun and forces creative storytelling. Kids don't have to wait too long for their turn, either, since each player gets only 30 seconds to narrate their page. The app's parent section offers the research behind the value of shared stories, telling stories, and using imagination, and the section "How to Tell a Story" offers detailed ideas on putting together a good story. The biggest problem with Story Wheel is that it's too easy for kids to share their stories publicly, and there's no way to delete those stories once they're on the developer's website.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the parts of a story: What does every story need? What makes a story interesting?

  • Play along with kids in pass-back-and-forth fashion, incorporating the ideas from "How to Tell a Story" to model good storytelling.

  • Play your stories in the car during a road trip for everyone to enjoy.

App details

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For kids who love storytelling

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