Spooky Story Dice: An App Review, by Naomi Smith
Spooky Story Dice from Thinkamingo is a simple app with lots of possibilities for story telling or dramatic play with a spooky twist. It is currently available for $0.99 from the Apple Store.
The app interface is incredibly simple, two black dice with spooky-themed pictures on a wood-looking background. Kids can tap or shake the screen to roll the dice and then create stories based on the pictures on the dice. In the settings, parents can change the number of dice and find helpful suggestions on how to play with the app. The dice feature pictures rather than words, so younger children and those who do not read English will be able to play. While many of the images, such as spiders or robots, will be familiar to kids, some–such as the radioactive symbol–might take some assistance from a grown up.
I tried the app with a group of fourth and fifth graders from the local Boys and Girls Club where we provided a weekly outreach program this summer. Reading scary stories aloud with the kids has been one of the most popular themes each year. After listening to some scary stories, I told them we were going to make up our own. I held the iPad and had kids take turns coming up. Each roll of the dice added a sentence to the story based on the picture shown. In a few instances, we added in lines to help the story move along. The results are below:
Justin is rich, with a bag of gold, and Elijah likes bats. Elijah met a witch, she threw a bomb at him. But, by a stroke of luck, just as a bomb was coming his way, Elijah found a four leaf clover and was saved. He looked up and saw a dragon named Spiderman. Elijah made a stupid potion, Justin cannot read time. Elijah found a ninja, the ninja came with a gear. Then Justin found a skull and a frog. The frog was radioactive. Elijah and the dragon made a drama troupe. The frog was so radioactive he was bigger than the dragon. He pulled his skin off. Justin made a potion, but only had a little bit of time left. The dragon spun a web –Sherlock used his webs to make a knife and kill him. So Justin had put on a mask for Halloween. Then Elijah and Justin became pirates and flew away in a rocket. They became pen pals with a ghost. The End.
As you can see, using the app won’t make expert storytellers out of novices! In the future I might spend a little bit of time talking about the structure of a story first. Then the kids can take turns coming up with a line or two more based on each set of pictures before rolling again. However, the kids did have a lot of fun and the app added something more to the typical everyone-adds-a-line story telling game. A bonus was that it was an app that I could use successfully in a group setting without needing to project the image to a larger screen. I would recommend this for any one looking for a fun spooky story telling game for school aged kids.Naomi Smith is a Youth Services Librarian for the Parkland/Spanaway branch of the Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, WA. She occasionally tweets at @Naomireads. ~*~ Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.