Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Storytelling with Playtime Theater

Playtime Theater (iPad only) promises to be an outstanding app for creative storytelling, and has been well-reviewed. With built-in production elements like sound effects and music, it seems as though it would beat Puppet Pals hands-down, especially as a volume purchase would bring the price even lower than Puppet Pals. Unfortunately, just as the current version of Puppet Pals has its flaws, so does version 1.0 of Playtime Theater.

The company does plan on releasing more sets and characters in the future, but for the moment I feel the castle set is limiting for school use. The most significant problem for me, though, is that Playtime Theater 1.0 does not allow you to save or export your stories. Without that option, I might want a copy for my kids to play with, but would not want to use it yet for classroom projects. Hopefully, later versions will include this option as otherwise it has some very cool features. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on this one!

Edited April 5, to add: David Katz and Seth Levine of Make Believe Worlds were kind enough to let me have an evaluation copy of Playtime Theater. They write that they are
"a small "2 dad" company...which means we still have "day jobs" so there are still some rough edges, but we are trying to get an update out very soon that will address a few of the known issues. [ . . .] we are basically just two guys from Van Nuys with day jobs in “the industry.” We both are Television editors with over 25 years experience between us. So, storytelling is something we have always enjoyed."
Having now actually had a chance to play with Playtime Theater, I think this would be very cool for younger kids to play with and I know my kids will love it. The app does some very cool things, with windows and doors opening to reveal characters, and characters being able to move around from one place to another in the castle in a way I haven't seen in other apps. It allows kids to create something that looks quite complex really quite easily. The inability to save your finished shows is a serious flaw though - crucial for school environments where projects often have to carry over from one day to the next due to scheduling constraints. Although the show you are currently working is saved when you leave the app to go and do something else on the iPad, I have not seen a way in Playtime Theater to save your show so that you can then work on a different one without losing the first.  I am still convinced that this is a product with great potential, both in the classroom and particularly out of it. I will be looking out eagerly for what shows up in the updates! Check out their You Tube channel for more videos that will give you a good sense of what it can currently do.

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