Thursday, September 20, 2012

Shake-N-Tell

Shake-N-Tell was created by Your Name in Cows for true storytelling lovers. I'm always on the look out for unique apps, and this is one of them. This app provides the basics of stories and the rest is up to the storyteller. So if you're looking for an app with all the latest interactive features, this is not it. But if you're looking for an app to guide quality interactive time with your family, this may be it. Price: Free with in-app purchases for more storyboards.

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: I really like the idea of this app. Hey, it's hard coming up with stories, so why not get some idea boosters. The navigation is pretty simple. Pick a title, then read the story. They highlight certain parts to encourage more description and elaboration on those parts. You can hit the shuffle button if you don't like where that page of the plot is taking you to get another option. If you're running short on time, you can fast forward to the end. 

Here's the thing - I am not a good storyteller. I really admire parents and whoever who are great at it, doing voices and sound effects and all. This may not be enough for me. They provide little tips for storytelling, wish there were more, or maybe an example or two showing the difference between the bare basic story and how someone turned it into a great story. I also think some added features would make it easier too. For example, adding a brief synopsis of each story could not only help families to choose the story, but also to help the storyteller prepare. Or a menu system where you could choose specific things for the story - like the genre, characters, setting, etc. These would also be good because some of the stories can be scary so parents can better decide if it's appropriate. This is actually a big point - parents need better indications here for whether the story is appropriate for their kids. But, in the end, is this better than trying to come up something completely on my own? Yes. Does this encourage more interaction for families? Yes. Rating: 3.5/5 (no age rating as I feel the parent is the main user here).

Balance: As I said, this is overall simple - but more features could make it better. Maybe offer suggestions of elaboration. Another suggestion would be a back/main menu button, if folks decide they want a different story. As is, you're pretty much locked in. Rating: 4/5

Sustainability: This is a hard one as the quality and effort required is kinda up to the storyteller. With the in-app purchases, there's a variety of stories to choose from. Rating: 4/5

Parental Involvement: This is a strength of the app as it encourages folks to take their eyes off the screen and onto each other. Good storytellers (parents AND kids) can just fly with it, and not-so-great storytellers can use it as practice to get better. At least there are prompts for where to elaborate or get others involved to make it a collaborative story. Rating: 5/5

Total: 16.5 out of 20 = 4 stars

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