Common Sense Review
Updated November 2013

Puppet Pals HD

All the world's a stage with this easy, thematic story creation app
Common Sense Rating 3
  • A hand-made puppet theater look and streamlined menus makes storytelling attractive and easy.
  • Arrange, move, and size characters on a background and add audio to tell a story.
  • Mix and match characters from different packs in one story.
  • Add your own images for personalized fun.
Themed character packs guide the basic story while other options and voice recording let kids' imagination flow.
Most character packs and use-your-own images require in-app purchases.
Bottom Line
Puppet Pals HD is a fun, creative way to help kids learn thematic storytelling.
Dana Villamagna
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Your own photos, as well as fun, themed character packs -- which include things like U.S. historical figures and knights and princesses -- can be added to the initial pack via in-app purchase for more engaging story-creating sessions.

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

Kids can learn how each part of the creative process works to form a story as they make decisions about which backgrounds and characters to use in each scene, how to size them and move them around, and which audio to record.

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

There are very few instructions, and data is limited to the elapsed time of each saved video. There's a helpful Parent and Teacher User Guide on the developer's website.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Puppet Pals can be incorporated into classroom lessons about about history, current events, science, storytelling, literary genres, and more. Read the helpful guide with lesson ideas on the developer's website (specifically created for Puppet Pals 2 but also applicable to this version), which also includes tips to use the specific features of this app most effectively. Multiple kids can work on a storyline together, incorporating story sound effects and voice acting for each character. Or, individual students can use this as a presentation or storytelling tool. Teachers may want to use one of the historical-based character packs (American history figures, characters from Medieval times, or Thanksgiving) or the current U.S. political figures pack to enliven the lessons in a unique, memorable way.

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What's It Like?

Puppet Pals HD offers an easy way for kids to create and record their own storytelling scenes and develop fun voice-acting skills. Simply tap "Press to Start" and choose up to eight themed, move-able sticker-like characters from the available theme packs (in-app purchase required for most). Next, select up to five backgrounds. Swipe and pinch to place, resize, and move the characters within the background. Tap to record audio or swap backgrounds, then save and give the performance a title. The app includes one set of characters, Fairy Tale, and there are other character sets available for purchase at $.99 each (or $2.99 for the full Director's Pass). Sets include American historical figures, politicians, wild west, pirates, and one called "War & Peace," which features people from the past who are known for war- or peace-making, such as Mother Teresa. The ability to cut people out of your real-life photos and use them as puppets or add backgrounds also requires an in-app purchase.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Kids can learn about digital storytelling using Puppet Pals HD. While recording their own audio, kids practice speaking clearly. If working with others, they can learn creative collaboration and dialogue. They can also observe how multiple forms of expression -- visuals, movement, voice acting, and sound effects -- come together to tell a story. When teachers provide some background information about the famous people in history or current politicians included as characters, kids can also learn more subject-specific information in a memorable way.

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See how teachers are using Puppet Pals HD

Lesson Plans