Scratch and Sniff are two protagonists in a virtual story written by Richard Clark, available as an app by Story Panda.
Although my boys enjoyed pushing the obligatory "interactive" buttons throughout the story, the real fun started when they re-purposed the pictures in the story to re-write the plot, after reading the original. The app allows young would-be writers to edit the text and even change the antagonist, to customize a variety of stories of their own. More than one story can be written, and completed books are displayed on a special shelf in a virtual bookcase.
My teacher brain immediately went to the classroom: Imagine a common text that allows all students to share the same story, and then work alone or with a partner to re-write the story. A differentiated approach is easy: Some students could re-write the whole thing, others might just change the ending, and so on! Definitely applicable from a bout Grades 2-5.
As a parent, what struck me about this app was that although it was "mom-loaded" and I insisted they try it out, it really didn't need a big sales pitch from me: I actually loaded the app, and then went off to work on something else, thinking I'd come back later and try it out together with them. Within minutes, however, they had taken it upon themselves to explore the app, and an hour later, they were still going strong, writing their own stories!
Nearly a week later, StoryPanda is still one of their favourite apps -- and we haven't even downloaded any of the other books available!!!
Below is a summary of Pros and Cons, in the words of my 9-year-old twins boys themselves; since they are the primary consumers here, I figured I'd let them write at least some of this review!
- You can pick the bad guy when you are writing your own story
- You can create more than one story using the same pictures
What Would Make it Better:
- More villains (currently, there are “only” 3!) A lot of people would like
the villains if they got that app. Kids like that stuff. We should
know, we’re kids!
- Would be good if you could delete books; there doesn’t seem
to be a way to do that. (Mom tried to make a book, and I couldn't get rid of it after. Now it's taking up space on my bookshelf!)
Whether you are a teacher or a parent looking to get beyond the "game" apps on your child's iPad, I highly recommend StoryPanda, and in particular, Scratch and Sniff by Richard Clark!