Content: This virtual machine, a section of the larger Scholastic.com site, provides students with randomly selected themes for writing assignments.
Design: The machine’s whimsical appearance and audio (think a casino slot machine if it were designed by Willy Wonka) skew younger, but older students are likely to find it amusing as well.
Review: The story generator is a one-trick pony, but that trick is a very good one. How else would kids come up with an assignment where they compose a camping story about a sad pirate who is from Mars?
The buttons all function flawlessly, and the actual story starters are entertaining. Students would have a good time just endlessly spinning the dials and reading what the machine comes up with. When students are finished writing and electronically illustrating their stories, they can print them in an appealing format.
Bottom Line: There isn’t a lot here, but if you’re looking for writing inspiration and a fun computer lab activity for the elementary level, this a good place to start.