A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this website.
Kids can learn to tell a story using a combination of words and pictures, planning out each action, and discovering how to move the plot forward. They'll learn writing skills as they fill in thought bubbles to create dialogue for characters. The basics of film-style storyboarding are also covered. Learning to strategize and organize info to make the most compelling tale, kids will find that the decisions they make can bring a story to life.
Kids get to make a ton of choices on this website, giving them freedom and empowering them to truly feel like creative storytellers.
StoryboardThat's character design is simple to use, but that also makes it fairly generic. On the plus side, colors for eyes, skin, and hair are fully customizable, using the full RGB palette. But there aren't options for swapping out facial features or body size, making the characters mostly thin and wrinkle-free, with cliched "comic book" faces -- big eyes and small noses. It's great that any character can be made into a wheelchair user. But the options for folk/historical clothing can border on stereotype due to limited options, generic designs, and a lack of customizability. Outfits include Muslim hijab, "Chinese" characters wearing standing collars and topknots, "Native Americans" wearing Plains-style clothing, "Mesoamericans" in feathered headgear, samurai, ninja, etc. Plus, there are only single options for characters with crutches or a mobility cane.
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Ease of Play
There are a lot of options to play with in StoryboardThat, but they're clearly labeled and organized in an understandable way. Search function is helpful for users who have a specific vision in mind. Drag-and-drop elements and clear, large indicators for resizing images make this simple to tinker with on desktop for most users.
Violence & Scariness
Users can add as much or as little violence as they want to into their stories. Various weapons are available: machine guns, assorted firearms, swords, a grenade, etc. Characters include people wearing a karate uniform or boxing shorts/gloves, a skeleton, and different types of ghosts. Blood graphics (a puddle, cuts, a bloody knife) and explosions are available, including a mushroom cloud.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters in swimwear are available; they wear a one-piece, a conservative two-piece, or are shirtless wearing swim trunks. No nudity.
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There's no censoring in StoryboardThat -- users can type curse words or slurs if they want to.
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Products & Purchases
The free version is very limited. Most features are locked behind a paywall with banner ads and frequent pop-ups announcing "TRY 1 MONTH FOR $1!" There's also a 14-day free trial for educators.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A cigarette and various alcoholic beverages are available to put into your comic panels.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that StoryboardThat is "an innovative way to describe ideas and processes" that kids can use for a bunch of different purposes. From plotting out kid-made films to recreating historical events, kids visiting this website can use words and pictures to express themselves. The drag-and-drop interface should be easy for kids to figure out, and the program is simple and satisfying. Older kids can create more complex boards with layered images, while young ones can simply have fun experimenting with the characters. Though the limited customizability of characters might make StoryboardThat easier to dive into, that limitation also means that the generic options for folk/historical clothing can border on stereotype.
Is It Any Good?
StoryboardThat is easy to use and has all the tools necessary for creating a clear storyboard. The interface is great for kids, and there are just enough choices without being overwhelming. For teachers and parents, there are lots of examples on how to use the site, and the lesson plans include excellent, detailed storyboard-style explanations of various concepts like "Types of Literary Conflict" and "Cyber Bullying." That said, there aren't many frills within the tool itself, and the drawings, while sort of cute, could be more charming. And anyone looking to portray more nuanced characters beyond one option for a "samurai" or one option for a character who uses crutches, etc. might have to find a more sophisticated tool to tell their story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
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