ToonSpaghetti Story Lab opens up little users are asked to choose between a male and female character and then launches straight into the first story. During the first play through, a little robot friend helps guide your little one through the process of adding in music and sound effects that reflect and reinforce the mood of the story. As we progress to later parts of the story, your child will have to identify the moods when prompted.
Your child will get to choose between three snips of music for each leg of the story, and what they choose can really give the story a different feel. They will also be able to insert up to four different sound effects within each leg of the story, placing them at exactly the right moments to really bring the story to life. As the app progresses, kids are also given the chance to record their own sound effects to place in the story.
The free download (and this review) includes the first planet in the story chain. It's a very generous taste of what the app is all about. I've also played some of the purchased stories and I can tell you that they are as much fun (or maybe a little more).
What I liked:
- This app has a very user friendly interface, with a simple drag and drop motion to insert both music and sound effects. The characters are fun, and should have a universal appeal.
- I thought that this was an innovative app that helps kids learn about identifying and setting the mood and tone of a story by changing the music and sound effects.
- The end of each story left you wanting to find out what happens next.
What I might change or add:
- I found that if you had to back out in the middle of a story, your progress was not saved and you had to start over again. This seemed to be true when you would revisit planets. I wish there was a way to save your progress to come back to and also to save versions that you really like to revisit later.
- There did not appear to be a way to record your own narration. I feel like they really missed out on an opportunity to give kids an extra chance to put their own touch on the stories and allow them to set the mood and tone even more through pace of reading and voice inflection. Also, for us the narrator’s voice stayed female whether we chose the boy or the girl character.(Note: The forth planet does actually open up a whole new option for recording the user's own voice, so this concern is addressed in one of the purchased stories but not in the free version that we were reviewing.)
- In a future update (or perhaps even future new app), I think it would really be a great feature to let kids have a choice at each junction about which direction they want their story to take. This would create entirely new stories each time rather than the same stories with slightly different effects.
Overall I think that ToonSpaghetti Story Lab is on the way to being a very fun, effective app to help teach children the art of storytelling along with working on their language skills. There are a few things that could be added to strengthen the app and a few edges to be polished, but in its current form I’m giving it a 4.5 star ranking.
Bottom Line: Story Lab is designed to help kids practice their language skills and increase their literacy by helping to create stories. The first story in the pack is free to download and is a very generous taste of what the app has in store.