Reviewing an activity from Sugar Labs – Story Activity

Sugar has a wide variety of activities that suit children, and these activities can be published by anyone in the community. Today, I am going to review one of Sugar’s activities – Story Activity. Before I start with my review, let me share with all of you what Story Activity is about.

About Story

Story Activity uses images to prompt the young learner to tell a story. Here’s a screenshot to make it clearer:

Can a picture indeed paint a thousand words?

Can a picture indeed paint a thousand words?

As you can see, there are 9 images loaded. The young learner has to invent a story based on these images; he or she has to try to tell a story that ties the images together into a comprehensive narrative. For example, I may begin the story like this: A lock is needed to open a tent. There is a strong wind blowing currently, and the palm tree outside the tent is almost uprooted.

Stories could start like that, but more details could be included in the story and the story could make more sense.

Using Story

The toolbar in Story.

The toolbar in Story

The first icon, the one in blue and has a question mark opens the standard Sugar activity toolbar.

The second icon, which reminds you of a refresh button in a browser, loads nine new images.

The third icon, with an eye on it, saves an image to the Journal.

The fourth icon, which looks like a disc, records what you are saying for your story.

The fifth icon, which is similar to a “play” button, plays your audio recording.

The last button, which looks like an ancient coin, is used to exit Story.

Now it’s time to start my review of Story.

What I like about Story

  • I like that Story appeals to young children and even people of older ages. After I downloaded Story, I tried to piece a story with the nine images and it was quite interesting as it helped to fuel my imagination. Even though I got bored after forming several stories, I still think that this activity would definitely appeal to me when I was young. Even adults can try out Story, they might not get bored too!
  • I like that Story has a simple yet interesting concept. Newcomers who have never interacted with Story before would be able to understand its concept. Those who did not read the first section above would still be unable to grasp the concept and tell a story of their own.
  • Story is an example of how electronics can play a useful part in our lives. Many people are grumbling that electronics only do harm to their kids, but Story is an exception. It blends in story telling, a real life activity, with electronics, and people can learn a lot from Story. Children can even tell their stories in front of their parents, which will definitely bond them as a family.
  • Story helps to fuel our imagination. With Story, your imagination can become even more fertile when you tell a story which is based on nine images.
  • The recording and playback features. In many similar activities like Story, you only narrate a story and that’s it. But Story allows one to record his/her story and play it back. Not only will you feel a sense of satisfaction when hearing your story, you may even find ways to improve upon your story and you can record again!
  • No rules in Story. Many children nowadays will feel pressurized when they participate in activities such as Story. They may have to start with the first image, then proceed to the second image horizontally in a sequential way. But with Story, it is definitely not the case. For a challenge, you can start your story in any manner, vertically, horizontally, diagonally, or even backwards! This will surely help your imagination to become more fertile.
  • Some images are not clear enough. You may be wondering why this point appears in this list. For example, a unclear image may seem to me like a flame, while my friend may see it as a water droplet. With Story, both are accepted! This will fuel your imagination as an image may represent many things, which will be a greater challenge when you tell your story.
  • Story can be extended. Just when you think that you have narrated plenty of stories and feel bored, you realize that Story can be extended, like a post game. Children can participate in Story with their friends or create a written story! First, the children have to transcribe and refine their stories using the Sugar Write activity. They can save to the Journal the images used to prompt their story and then embed this image into their Write document. Thereafter, Story can be shared, so the narration can be created amongst multiple students. They can chain together a story by taking turns; each turn involving generating narration for one image. Now your children can learn from their peers and vice-versa.
A written version of your child's story

A written version of your child’s story

  • Story is free and does not cost anything. You can download Story for free and need not pay a cent. Other similar games require you to buy them with cash while the same is definitely not true for Story.

What I dislike about Story

  • I could not understand some of the icons on the toolbar at first as their icons may not represent what they are for. For example, the exit button is similar to an ancient coin, which may be confusing. A suggestion would be to replace the icon with the text “Exit”.
  • The images are inanimate. If images are given short animations, the young learner may be able to narrate a more comprehensive and detailed story. For example, the image of a still aeroplane can be replaced with a short animation of an aeroplane flying. This will also enhance the imagination of the young learner. However, not all images should be given animations, just some. This will make Story even more interesting since young learners have to narrate a story with some animated images and the rest of the images are inanimate.

Projects I can complete with Story

Honestly speaking, there are not much projects I can complete with Story given my age (13 years old). Only two ideas come to my mind. The first one is that I can narrate a story and share it with my friends, and my friends will have to continue the story (say like a sequel) with their given set of images. Then they share it with their other friends and so on. One person can only narrate one story.

The second idea is that I could inform young children in my neighborhood about Story and encourage them to download it. These young children are Story’s main target audience, and I think they will enjoy Story a lot as they can share their own narrated stories with their friends.

Bugs in Story

After navigating through Story for a while, I found out that I could not spot any bugs nor lags.

Final Verdict

Excellent. I strongly recommend anyone, regardless of their age, to give Story a try. Story boasts many features and the minor problems I pointed out can definitely be fixed. Moreover, since Christmas is round the corner, perhaps you could ask your entire family to download Story and the adults can help their children become better story tellers. In the 21st century of today, public speaking skills are a must and perhaps you can hone these skills by practising with Story. You can also make your imagination more fertile with Story. What are you waiting for, go download Story now at http://activities.sugarlabs.org/en-US/sugar/ !

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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