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Toontastic Jr. Pirates

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Kids learn storytelling basics as they create cartoons.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn the basics of storytelling and oral literacy as they create a narrated cartoon with a beginning, middle, and ending. By choosing a musical score from a selection of faces and emotion words, kids learn that music can evoke different moods. The open-ended scene starters are a fun jumping-off point for kids to stretch their imaginations and learn through creative play. Toontastic Jr. Pirates is a delightful and age-appropriate introduction to digital storytelling for young kids.

Ease of play

Great design makes app play easy enough for very young kids. To adapt the app interactions, parents can choose from three settings: kids ages 4 and younger, 5 to 6, or 6 and older. For younger kids, audio prompts walk them through the story creation, and the character leg and arm control is simple for less developed fine motor skills. Older kids can play with no audio guides and have full character leg and arm control. However, the StoryShare feature is buggy and harder for kids (and adults) to manage.

Violence & scariness

A few characters carry swords, and one of the story starters shows them sword-fighting. Characters include a shark, sea dragon, ghost, and skeleton, but they are pretty benign (the shark has pointy teeth, but is smiling). The pirate-themed settings have titles suggesting pirate antics with words like "hijack," "revenge," and "haunting."

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

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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.

Families can talk about...

  • Help your kids think about the different parts of a story when reading books or watching shows. Who were the characters? What happened in the beginning, middle, and end?

  • Co-create with your kids on the same device.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Subjects:Language & Reading: storytelling
Skills:Tech Skills: digital creation
Creativity: imagination, making new creations
Release date:December 13, 2012
Size:202.00 MB
Publisher:Launchpad Toys
Minimum software requirements:iOS 5.1 or later

This review of Toontastic Jr. Pirates was written by

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Kid, 11 years old December 17, 2012


Seems really cool!
What other families should know
Great role models