Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2014
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Direct and star in zany TV shows with fun, easy-to-use movie maker

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Making special effects-filled videos is a quick, easy, and fun process.

Cons: iOS 11 has introduced a bunch of bugs. Cue cards don't follow a cohesive story structure, so students will need to do some planning.

Bottom Line: What this fun, creative storytelling tool lacks in depth, it makes up for in pizzazz.

While students will love creating improvised shows using TeleStory, with some planning and prep, teachers can use it as an effective learning tool, too. Students might be inspired by the settings and characters included to write short stories -- working through the writing process to revise and edit them -- and then record them. Kids can play all of the parts themselves, changing characters with an outfit change, or work collaboratively with different kids playing different parts, changing characters between scene recordings. Teachers could join in the creative fun, too, creating shows to introduce a unit or project with extra pizzazz.

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Editor's Note: Since this review's publication, iOS 11 has introduced a series of issues with the app, resulting in bugs and crashes. 

TeleStory is a video creation tool that starts students with a scene, face-detecting costumes, cue cards, and special effects, and lets them create their own themed TV shows. Kids first choose a theme and then select a scene and cue card. They choose a costume (hats, wigs, glasses, helmets) that fits onto their image via face-detecting technology and then record their scene. They can choose from several cue cards to inspire their story, adapt what's on the cards, or write their own ideas. Kids can add as many scenes as they'd like to create their story, and then name it and save it in the app. They can return to saved episodes for further editing, share them via ToonTube, the developer's moderated community, and save them to the device's camera roll. Publishing the videos requires teacher or parent approval, and videos are moderated and approved before going live.

TeleStory both inspires and empowers kids to be creative. The preset themes will spark ideas, and the crazy costumes and accessories will empower kids to set their creative sillies free. The face-finding technology is really cool -- but not perfect -- so kids will have to let go of perfectionist expectations, because their costumes won't line up perfectly for every move they make. Kids can choose from story-starting cue cards, or they can develop or improvise their own ideas. After each scene is recorded, kids are prompted with a "What happens next?" to encourage them to continue elaborating their story. 

At the time of review, included themes are The Band, Star Adventure, Eye Spy, and The News, with each theme featuring a different setting, costumes, and fun special effects -- which, in an already totally cool tool, may be the coolest feature of all. Kids can watch videos created by other kids (and approved for posting) and share their own creations (once approved).

Overall Rating

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

Varied settings and silly costumes and special efforts inspire kids and empower them to be creative. Kids will enjoy creating shows and watching classmates' shows.

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

With settings running the gamut from spy shows to performance-based competitions, kids can create stories, including characters, settings, conflicts, and resolutions -- and, most of all, creativity.

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

Teachers must record a short video granting permission for students to post videos to ToonTube, which is monitored and moderated to ensure appropriate content. Videos can also be saved in-app or to the camera roll.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Melanie K. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Canadian International School Bangalore
Bangalore, India
Fantastic, Easy to use! Fans of Toontastic will love this. Students and Kids love it.
Instant Creativity
Read full review

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