What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that StoryForm is a random idea generator writers can use to write stories. Simply tap "Shake," and words begin to scroll, slot-machine style, through five categories of story and character elements (including trait, profession, location, thing, and theme) until five are produced for approval or rejection. Unfortunately, some of the words included could lead to stories with violent, sexual, or drug-related content. Most are fine, but some words (such as "blood-stained crowbar," "adulterous," and "dime bag") are decidedly for adult stories only, and there's no way to block those from being randomly generated to make sure a kid-friendly idea appears. StoryForm may have a trillion possible story line combinations, but not all are suitable for kids.
What kids can learn
What Kids Can Learn
While StoryForm was created with educational intent, it appears to have limited learning potential.
What's it about?
Simply tap "Shake" (or shake the mobile device), and STORYFORM shows five words that are all story elements: traits, professions, locations, themes, and things. If you like some ideas the app generates (for example, "architect," "the future," and "gong") but not the others ("diseased" and "sacrifice"), you can lock in the approved words with a lock icon and shake again to find different words. Then lock the elements you like and shake again. There's a space for writing notes, and stories can be saved and shared.
Is it any good?
StoryForm can be an interesting story starter, but it's not suitable for young kids (and only mature teens who can wade through certain word choices should use it, especially for school-related work). True, creative writing and storytelling should include a wide range of life experiences, and not necessarily those of the author. But the words in this app are being generated by a device, not a kid's or teen's own imagination, and thus may be imposing an idea or experience hey wouldn't normally choose and may not be ready to consider carefully, especially without adult guidance. The solution could be a kid filter or a kids' version of the same tool, which could wholeheartedly be recommended as an age-appropriate creative aid. With its current mixed bag of word and subject choices, however, StoryForm isn't the best place for kids to go fishing for ideas.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about where writers get their ideas. Is a story-starter tool "cheating," or is it simply a way to get the creative juices flowing?
Create an offline version of this app by putting story ideas and elements into a hat and then have kids pick five.