A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Toontastic Jr. Pirates has the same fun style and emphasis on storytelling as Toontastic, but the app interactions and learning supports are designed for younger kids. Everything is a bit more simplified in the Jr. version, with fewer choices in cartoon creation and fewer steps to get to the final product. Pirate-themed characters and scenes are cartoony, but do include swords and a couple of stressful story starters including one where the characters dangle off the edge of a ship while a shark circles below them.
What's it about?
Kids create an animated cartoon by first choosing scenes to use for the beginning, middle, and ending of their stories, and then recording themselves speaking and moving the characters around on the screen. When the app is set up for ages 4 and younger or 5 to 6 (parents adjust this in the settings), a narrator gives instructions and prompts. Kids pick music for each scene by selecting an emotion that describes the characters such as happy or scared. The StoryShare feature lets kids co-create cartoons with friends or family online, but the feature is buggy. Parents should also kow that although the app promotes its StoryShare feature, that function is buggy as of this review.
Is it any good?
When looking at Toontastic Jr. Pirates and Toontastic side by side, the intentions behind the Jr. version are obvious (well, the name also provides a clue). Toontastic Jr. Pirates gives younger kids a more accessible and developmentally appropriate first experience with digital storytelling. The simplified process and pared-down set of options still introduce kids to the concepts of story arc and mood, but with less depth and a bit more hand-holding than in the original app. It's hard to find fault in this when any desires for more characters, options, flexibility, or greater depth to the learning are already answered with Toontastic. A nice addition would be a parent guide with suggestions for how to extend the learning through app play or offline.
The StoryShare feature is still very buggy, so until the developer releases updates to fix it, buy this app for the storytelling and cartoon creation, not the sharing function. Even without the sharing function, Toontastic Jr. Pirates is a fun and easy-to-use cartoon creation app for little kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
- Subjects: Language & Reading: storytelling
- Skills: Tech Skills: digital creation
Creativity: imagination, making new creations
- Price: $1.99
- Release date: December 13, 2012
- Category: Education
- Topics: Pirates
- Size: 202.00 MB
- Publisher: Launchpad Toys
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 5.1 or later
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.