Review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013
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Drawing Cartoons

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Create unique stop-motion animations, but beware of violent imagery

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
6-8 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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5 images

Pros: Interesting concept, and the ability to create detailed animated movements adds to professional feel.

Cons: Unnecessary violent content, too many pay-only items can annoy and frustrate, and terminology is confusing.

Bottom Line: A fun opportunity to create cool cartoon animations, but needs to clean up its act to be fully kid-friendly.

Because there are a few inappropriate options (guns, etc.), you'll want to monitor kids to make sure their animations stay on track. Kids can use this app to develop simple storytelling skills; you could have them animate a folk tale or story of their own. Putting images together with words will be a fun challenge, and there are a few different levels of use depending on where you want to focus. If speech bubbles are integrated, students can use their knowledge of language to convey ideas precisely. If you choose to add audio, students will need to sequence ideas logically in their multimedia presentations.

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Drawing Cartoons is an app that allows kids to create and export their own stop-action videos in mp4 format. You can alter existing figures ("items") by moving and rotating "skeleton" parts in sequential frames to create a sense of movement. After you install the related app VideoPlugin4 Animating Touch -- also free -- the export function works to generate an mp4 file and allows kids to edit "scene" backgrounds, size, and speed, or to add audio.

From the main menu, select from five "item" categories; then enter the workspace. Clear icons here prompt you to create or delete frames, undo, select "items," run an animation, or edit or export "videos" using plug-in functionality. An "upload" button loads saved "scenes" as well.

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Drawing Cartoons' powerful basic functionality lets kids easily create stop-action animations, but they'll run into some awkward rough edges. Empowered by the ability to tap and move skeleton parts 360 degrees from an axis point (making an arm wave, for example), kids will think about part-whole relationships and strategize how to tell a story using the figures provided. Plus, they'll learn how the body moves naturally as they re-create each movement. The cartoon creation experience is engaging enough that the lack of a support website, community, or extensions probably won't hold back a motivated kid, but it's a bummer that there isn't more to back up this app.

Lots of the animation items kids can choose are violent in nature, including deadly and automatic weapons, and full functionality is really only available with an upgrade to the paid version. Kids might spend a lot of time creating a new item only to find they can't save it without an in-app purchase. Device-based navigation and icons are on the cryptic and clunky side. And finally, the actual names of the app and its features seem to be constantly shifting: Is the app called Drawing Cartoons or Animating Touch? Are they comics or cartoons or films or scenes? With some thoughtful redesign and a bit of clarity, this app would be super easy to use as well as fun and powerful.

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Overall Rating
2

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

Unique concept that lets users move "skeleton" parts around to create realistic movements will appeal to budding cartoon artists, but design is kind of messy.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Empowers kids to alter figures in lots of creative ways, but all the weapons and fighting figures available don't match up with the pro-social feel of the promo video.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

Settings offer some level of control, but the developer doesn't have a website offering any tips or extensions.


Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Jessica M. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Hite Saunders Elementary School
Huntington, WV
3
Tool to introduce digital art

I liked it for letting students get to know how digital media can be made and transformed, but could not imagine using this app with all of my students. I work with elementary students and could see this being used with older high school or middle school students more effectively.

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