My StoryMaker Website Poster Image

My StoryMaker

(i)

 

Learning(i)

Safe, simple way to write and illustrate original tales.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The site provides a supportive forum in which kids can be creative.

Violence & scariness

Kids can make characters fight, but they won't see any blood; the altercation takes place behind a series of cloud-like images that represent motion. 

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language

Kids could potentially use swear words such as "f--k" and "s--t" in stories if they so choose, but they shouldn't be exposed to bad language unless a friend emails a finished book that contains some.

Consumerism

Learning-related book descriptions in the parent section link to library-availability information, not online bookstores.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this free book-creation tool lets kids create partially animated stories that won't be posted online or otherwise shared with the general public. It's relatively simple to use; kids will choose the basic components of a story from a pre-populated menu and then write in the details on each page. You can save stories and return to them later, but take note: Users automatically agree to let the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh display any content they create for promotional use, according to a home page disclaimer.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • storytelling
  • writing
  • reading

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • strategy
  • decision-making

Creativity

  • imagination
  • making new creations

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively
  • multiple forms of expression

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Kids will have fun adding their own text, and characters can dance, cheer, and jump. However, without different levels, the ability to use original drawings, or personalized feedback on finished stories, kids might only use this tool once or twice. 

Learning Approach

Kids practice storytelling and writing. A Story Helper character offers prompts if they get stuck. But the system doesn't assess the final product, so they won’t improve spelling, writing clarity, and other skills without adult input.

Support

The Library of Pittsburgh website isn't easily accessible from the site but lists essay-writing books; links to development and education sites; and early-learning help. Kids also can access Tutor.com, an essay-writing and proofreading help line.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • storytelling
  • writing
  • reading

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • strategy
  • decision-making

Creativity

  • imagination
  • making new creations

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively
  • multiple forms of expression

Kids can learn storytelling and writing skills as they create their own simple tales using the site. Creativity is explored but is a bit limited by the options offered, but a handy Story Helper character offers prompts if kids get stuck. The system doesn't assess the final product, so they won’t improve spelling, writing clarity, and other skills without adult input. My StoryMaker is a solid tool that gives kids a nice introduction to the world of creative writing, but grown-ups will need to support their experience. 

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Brereton

Parents say

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What's it about?

MY STORYMAKER was originally developed in 2007 by Carnegie Mellon University for Pittsburg libraries only; it's now available to everyone with a few upgrades, including new characters and background options. You can create virtual storybooks using more than 35 characters, 23 scenery objects, and more than 20 settings. Kids can print, email, or save stories and view them for up to a month online. The tool is easy to use; you only need an Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Reader. Kids can follow along as a narrator describes how the site works and then use the sidebar to choose settings, characters, and objects. Chosen objects drop from the sky when you add them to the page; characters can fly, kiss, change direction, or otherwise act and interact.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

My StoryMaker doesn't offer many extras; the virtual book-creation tool is its main attraction. But the site's simplicity isn't necessarily a bad thing. A Story Helper character provides helpful suggestions to advance the plot if writers get stuck. Users don't have total creative control -- they supply the text but can't use original images, and content has to be illustrated with art that My StoryMaker provides. The site also has a limited number of action, object, background, and character options, so kids may only want to use it to create a story or two. Kids won't get direct input on their story lines or writing quality; parents will need to review their work to provide guidance and help them improve. But, with some additional input, My StoryMaker can help spur kids' imaginations and provide beneficial writing practice. Just make sure you print, download, or email the finished story to save it -- due to space constraints, the site deletes them after a month.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the safest ways to share things you create online. Ask your kids: Why is it safer to email a friend your finished story instead of posting the story where strangers could see it?

  • Have your child tell you a story and then turn it into a My StoryMaker book. How do the versions differ? 

  • Talk to your kids about structure and a story's beginning, middle, and end. Can they identify those elements in a few of their own favorite books?

Website details

Genre:Creating
Pricing structure:Free

This review of My StoryMaker was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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About Our Rating System

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byemmygirl December 31, 2014
LEARNING

It was kinda boring

I tried this website out for some fun, but it got pretty boring. You can't get rid of characters you added and they automatically write sentences depending on what you click. I could say it has a bit of educational value, but it's still boring.

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