Luckily, there’s an app that helps kids and their families enjoy their online experience and connect through storytelling no matter where they live. Meet MagicPolygon! We sat down with local mom and founder Swarna Ananthan to find out more about the app she built. Read on to learn more about what inspired her to create the unique app and how it’s helping families and classrooms discover the magic of interactive reading.
Hoboken Girl: Hi! Tell us more about yourself and what you do.
Swarna Ananthan: My name is Swarna Ananthan, and I am the founder and CEO of MagicPolygon, LLC. I am also a Software Engineer and my specialization is mobile apps. I have more than 18 years of experience in Software Engineering and worked with various companies like Motorola, Samsung, iHeartRadio, New York Times, Peloton. I was one of the very first Engineers of Peloton and played a major role in bringing up the product. I left Peloton in 2016 to start MagicPolygon.
MagicPolygon is an app that allows teachers, children, and their families to record themselves narrating a story, or live stream a storytelling session – with interaction, surprises, and twists – and share them from anywhere for an interactive, magical experience. MagicPolygon adds a new animated storybook every month. MagicPolygon also allows users to create their own stories by uploading their own pictures. We also have a classroom version tailored towards the needs of the teacher.
HG: Why did you create MagicPolygon?
SA: I am a mom of a seven-year-old, and when telling stories to my son, I realized that storytelling, as opposed to story reading, has another important aspect – perspectives. Stories may be the same but the perspectives are different. Storytelling is Connection, Love, Creativity, and perspectives. But distance can be difficult for families, and my son loves stories! It’s amazing to see how stories light up so much in this little human.
Like many immigrants, our families are overseas and we try so hard to engage them in my son’s life and day-to-day. They have tried reading him stories, having him talk about his stories, but just holding a book over Zoom or Facetime doesn’t have that same magic, connection, conversation – it was VERY hard for kids to concentrate and not lose interest.
It got me thinking – what was the magic of storytelling that couldn’t get enough of via a screen? Maybe it was the voices? The pictures that he could ask about, the different versions of the same story that his Dad and I would make up or he would. Never the same story. It was moments of pure love, connection, and creativity – they just weren’t carrying through the screen. So I decided to change the screen – welcome to MagicPolygon.
HG: What do families enjoy most about using MagicPolygon?
SA: There are many reasons families enjoy MagicPolygon, here are just a few of the top 10:
- Connect deeper with family far away
- Delightful, interactive experience
- Families can give their own twist to a classic – endless possibilities
- Encourage your budding storyteller to create stories
- Connect with your family’s roots and culture, narrate and create in any language
- Ease of use – any level of tech-savvy can easily click and create!
- Secure, private, closed platform
HG: What can kids learn from using MagicPolygon, and what age is the app best for?
SA: MagicPolygon’s mission is to use storytime to build skills that will lead children to success in a fun way. Kids can develop a deeper bond with grandparents and other family members even when far away. It stimulates their imaginations as well. It encourages kids in creative storytelling and creative story writing. It helps expand their vocabulary and improves their communication and collaborative skills. They can identify emotions and feelings, learn cause and effect, and sharpen their memory. The app is for kids age group 3 to 8.
HG: What makes MagicPolygon unique?
SA: We’re extremely unique in that there are no current storytelling apps that allow simple creation interaction and connecting remotely with family. MagicPolygon – the storytelling and story-making app that transforms Everyone into a storyteller in a fun and interactive way. Positive feedback from early adapters. This year with remote learning I think it’s clear to see that a screen is simply not engaging enough for a child. Screen time is becoming more educational, interactive – parents and educators desperately seek ways to get the kids back. MagicPolygon is actively taking the feedback from its users and enhancing the experience.
HG: Which features of your app are your personal favorites, and why?
SA: My three favorite features of the app are recording a story, live streaming a story, and creating your own story. Here’s why – Record a story; any family member can record in their voice and publish a story for kids. Kids can listen to them anytime and as many times as they want. It creates deep bonding and connection with the family member. Live Stream a story; any family member or teacher can schedule a live story session and narrate a live story and the kids listen to the story in real-time. It’s like a grandma narrating a story in real-time and the cousins across the world can listen to her at the same time. Create your own story; parents, kids, teachers can upload a picture and create their own storybooks and narrate them in their voice. It gives the options to the family members to create stories specific to their family, culture, and traditions. Kids can upload their artwork, imagine and come up with their own stories.
HG: How can families find your app?
The app is available in the AppStore.We are planning to launch the Android version early next year. The apple app link is here. And here’s our website with app tutorials. We’re active on Instagram and Facebook as well.
HG: What’s next for MagicPolygon, do you have any exciting new stories being added?
We are in talks with some book publishers about having their books in our app. This needs some backend changes from our end. We are planning to roll out these features around the middle of next year. This would be a great addition to our library apart from the books that are created by our author.
HG: Can you tell us more about MagicPolygon’s classroom options, and the benefits classes have seen?
MagicPolygon’s classroom version for schools allows teachers to record stories or live stream stories for kids. Kids can record and create their own stories and parents can send them to teachers for review. Teachers can send private reviews to the parents.
Kids can collaborate and come up with their own stories using their artwork/pictures. This is a great collaboration tool for in-class activities as well. It provides a fun and interactive ways to encourage kids to write and create. Bilingual schools can play with both languages. It is a great companion for remote, in-person, or hybrid learning.
Many schools and teachers have given great feedback to us. When we talk about the local schools using our app, Tessa international school at Hoboken is one of them. A few other schools are offering our app to the parents’ community via HSA.
HG: Is there anything else you’d like to share with local families?
We are planning to conduct a few local events in the Hoboken library soon. We will announce the date soon. We would love to show a demo to the local moms and hear their feedback.