Using Toontastic in the Classroom

Posted on: October 24th, 2013 by Chris Loat

The app Toontastic allows students to create an animation in which they move characters and provide the audio to narrate / explain their animation.  The results is an animated cartoon in which their characters speak, and the combination of moving characters and audio recordings often results in a well crafted product. This app is a favourite among many students as it allows students to express their toontastic website, called toontube, dedicated online repository for publishing student creations.
Screenshot of some student
work from Toontube

understanding or emotions with verbal rather than written language and allows students to creatively show what they know in a variety of ways. Student work can be published online at the 

Allowing the students to explore Toontastic often proves useful in getting the students to understand how it works. The free version of the app has some built in settings and characters; students also have the option to create their own setting and characters with a basic paint tool built into the app. Unfortunately they are not able to import images or characters created outside of the app. The app has a  built in storyboard template for the telling of a story and is organized into 5 scenes: Setup / Conflict / Challenge / Climax / Resolution. Students can add or eliminate these scenes or can disregard them altogether (if they are going to animate a non-fiction piece of work or a poem). Whatever format they choose, Toontastic provides an alternative way for students to communicate their information and, IMHO, is one of the more versatile apps on the iPad.
Tips for using the app
  • Be sure the students record their voices in a relatively quiet place as the iPad picks up background noise.
  • Students should rehearse their lines as it is a bit tedious to review and redo each scene. Most students will need more than one trial for each scene, but rehearsing their lines will limit the number of ‘takes’.
  • Doing the work in groups works quite well as this lends itself to multiple voices and more than one character moving at a time.
  • Remind students to use emotion in their voices as the character’s don’t show facial expression to show how they are feeling.
Ideas for Using the App
  1. After writing a fable or myth, have students create custom characters and settings, then narrate their story. (see the below example of a First Nations legends created by a grade 5 student )
  2. Use the characters to develop a balance of dialogue and narrative in their creative stories. Often, students will only have dialogue when experimenting with the app, so practicing with the narrative explanations helps develop this aspect of writing.
  3. Animate a poem they wrote.
  4. Create a cartoon version of a novel read in class that contains a similar problem / solution.
  5. Animate some reading responses that involve the interaction between two or more people (e.g. some of the action strategies developed by Jeffrey Wilhelm).
  6. Tell a news story and use the animation as live video footage of the story.
  7. Practice French vocabulary. For vocabulary, students can create objects with the draw/paint tool and then record a sentence (or just the word) as they move the object
  8. Practice French conversations. Students can use the stock characters and record a basic French conversation between them. Or ESL students can practice conversations in English with the characters.
  9. Create a conversation between geometric shapes and highlight their properties.
  10. Narrate and animate the steps of a process in Science. For example, student could draw the different phases of the water cycle as their setting and then have arrows and labels as characters that are brought in when each phase is explained.

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