Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2012

Superhero Comic Book Maker - by Duck Duck Moose

Leap tall buildings with creative audio and visual storytelling

Common Sense Says:
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Pre-K-1 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Superhero characters are diverse, creative, strong, and smart.

Cons: Kids can't change images while recording the story, which may limit natural twists and turns in creativity.

Bottom Line: Kids create comic book-style stories and color pages on this easy app.

In the classroom, Superhero Comic Book Maker can help kids practice storytelling and learn how to make digital creations. For reluctant writers, it can serve as a friendly, approachable way for students to practice creative storytelling without the need to write. Words on usable on-screen stickers like "Pow!" and "Wham!" help kids learn how onomatopoeia words are used for impact in storytelling.

Teachers may need to be very involved with helping kids learn how to use the creative tools on the storybook portion of this app. Otherwise, it may be best reserved for kids who are already very comfortable navigating creativity apps without verbal instruction. Trying to discern what all the tools do based on icon clues may be frustrating for some younger kids on multi-step activities such as storybook making. How simple or complex this digital creative play process gets is up to kids and teachers.

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Superhero Comic Book Maker - by Duck Duck Moose is a storytelling and coloring page app for preschool through first grade students. By viewing the option icons, kids choose different background scenes (including their own photos), superheroes, and monsters. Then they can record the audio to go along with the pictures to make a story, moving the characters as they talk. Superhero Comic Book Maker comes from the makers of Princess Fairy Tale Maker, which is very similar to this app, but with princess and fairy themes.

In this app, sticker choices include superhero boys, girls, and superheroes from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Girl superheroes tend to be portrayed as the "smart ones" -- one says "e=mc2" and the other says "this is a job for code girl" -- whereas the males tend to be portrayed as strong. Unfortunately, currently all the coloring pages feature boy or animal superheroes only. Overall, this is fun, semi-directed play for young storytellers.

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The introductory monster vs. superhero video for kids to watch in Superhero Comic Book Maker may help get kids' story idea wheels turning. Then kids can use their own creative vision to choose a background and characters, add their own art, and use their imaginations to verbally record a story. Kids can even take pictures of their own to use as the background for their stories. While the verbal instructions on this app are minimal, the visual icons that kids tap to choose features do highlight options well. Still, this can be a problem for some younger users, making this app little more than a coloring book for them unless teachers assist during first-time use. Once kids understand how to use the multitude of creative tools in Superhero Comic Book Maker, their creative superpowers will come to life.

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Overall Rating

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

Colorful characters and the ability for kids to make their own background and record their own stories make this app highly engaging.

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

Kids learn through creative play as well as self-reflection when they listen to their stories in playback mode and view their artwork.

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

Kids can watch an intro video that gives them an example of a monsters vs. superhero story. A few verbal instructions and clear icons offer kids some direction.

Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher