ToonSpaghetti Story Lab

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
ToonSpaghetti Story Lab App Poster Image
Enriching stories with sound great idea, needs fine tuning.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about assessing and matching the mood of a story's plot points to classical music tracks. The multiple-choice word options for describing the story mood may also introduce some new vocabulary words. Kids can practice reading skills if they record themselves reading, and they'll get creative in thinking of ways to produce and record relevant sound effects. As they combine multimedia to create an engaging logical whole product, they'll dip their toes into digital creation. Unfortunately, there's little explanation or depth, so kids will only get a superficial experience. ToonSpaghetti Story Lab is a mini introduction to exploring the power of sound to enhance a story.

Ease of Play

Easy to use, though there's little guidance to introduce kids to what they're doing.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The free download comes with one story, which gives kids only a taste of the app; three more stories are available through in-app purchases behind a simple parent gate. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that ToonSpaghetti Story Lab is a set of alien-themed short stories for which kids can add music and sound effects as they evaluate and enhance mood and dramatic effect. The free download includes one story; three more stories are available for in-app purchases individually or as a package. Kids add sound effects, some of which are included in the app, and kids can make them themselves using the device's microphone. For details on the kinds of information collected and shared, read the app's privacy policy.

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What's it about?

Choose a male or female alien and jump right in to TOONSPAGHETTI STORY LAB. Kids listen to a story in three parts: beginning, middle, and end. At the end of each section, kids answer a multiple-choice question about the "mood" of the story at that point and then choose from three music options and four sound effects to add dramatic effect. Sometimes, kids can record themselves reading the story or making their own sound effect by using the device's microphone. When finished, kids use earned stars to add features to a spaceship.

Is it any good?

Working with music and sound effects throughout a story is great fun, but there's not much here for kids to explore deeply. The free story -- or the short series if you buy the extras --  is full of adventure and intrigue that should spark most kids' interest, especially if they're into aliens and spaceships. Picking which of three musical tracks matches the story line best encourages kids to think about mood, and making sound-effect feature is a nice touch for getting kids fully engaged. Yet, the app is missing an overall framework: There's little explanation for what kids are doing or what the big picture is. When kids choose a word to describe the mood of each story section, there's no explanation for what they're doing or what the word choices mean. For instance, what does it mean that the beginning of the first story is "purposeful"? If kids had more control and there was a clearer objective, the experience would be richer and more fulfilling.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about in-app purchases and your rules about them. Can kids buy the other stories, or are you only using the first free one?

  • Talk about the way kids feel when they read the stories. What kind of mood does each part of the story put you in? What is a good word to describe that mood?

  • Point out the soundtracks to movies, TV shows, or even commercials. Talk about how the music makes things more scary, happy, sad, desirable, and so on. How do the sound effects make everything seem more real? Try pressing the mute button for a few minutes at a point where there's no dialogue and see how things change.

  • Read stories together and encourage kids to create their own music and sound effects.

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love storytelling and music

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