Using Toys for Storytelling in E-Learning

Using Toys in E-Learning #74: Challenge | Recap

I watched Toy Story last weekend for the first time in almost 20 years. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed that movie.

When I first saw the movie, I enjoyed it for the 3D design and animation effects. However, this time around, I enjoyed the movie less for its special effects and more for its use of anthropomorphized objects. In other words, the humanized toys!

Watching the movie, all I could think about was liberating my kid's dolls, figurines, and stuffed animals from her toy chest so I could create e-learning scenarios.

And that's what this week's challenge is all about. First, let's look at some examples of how toys can be used in storytelling.

Greg the Architect

These videos have been around for years but they’re still some of the best and funniest examples of using toys for storytelling. Using business-style action figures, you'll learn all about the SOA life.

Greg the ArchitectGreg the Architect - SOA This. SOA That.

LEGO Movie Maker

This is an amazing app for making stop-motion movies. It walks you through adding title screens, visual effects, and background music.

LEGO Movie Maker

LEGO® Movie Maker

Toy Stories

Toys saying things to other toys! You don’t need to invest hours creating stop motion animation.  Go lo-fi and create a series of still photos and overlay callouts and chat clouds. I really love this use for toys in e-learning.

Toy Stories

Toy Stories by Aled Lewis


Feeling crafty? Try creating diorama to host your e-learning toys. For inspiration, check out the annual diorama contest from the Washington Post.

Peeps Diorama Contest

Peeps Diorama Contest

Challenge of the Week

This week your challenge is to design a short interaction using toys as your primary characters. You can combine toys with photographs, illustrations, or hand-crafted scenes and backgrounds.

The objective this week is to replace your usual e-learning graphics and characters with toys.


You can use Articulate Storyline, Articulate Studio ‘13, or PowerPoint to create your challenge entry.

Share Your E-Learning Work

  • Comments: Use the comments section below to share a link to your published example and blog post.
  • Forums: Start  your own thread and share a link to your published example..
  • Personal blog:  If you have a blog, please consider writing about your challenges. We’ll link back to your posts so the great work you’re sharing gets even more exposure.
  • Twitter: If you share your demos on Twitter, try using #ELHChallenge so your tweeps can track your e-learning coolness.
  • Facebook: Share your work on our Facebook page by replying to this Facebook post with a link to your example.

Last Week’s Challenge:

Before you run off to build your e-learning toyland, check out the oddest course titles your community members shared in last week's challenge:

The Oddest E-Learning Course Titles of the Year

E-Learning Challenge #73: Challenge | Recap


Wishing you a toy-tastic week, E-Learning Heroes!

New to the E-Learning Challenges?

The weekly challenges are ongoing opportunities to learn, share, and build your e-learning portfolios. You can jump into any or all of the previous challenges anytime you want. I’ll update the recap posts to include your demos.

Cary Glenn
Cary Glenn
JD Maddox
Amanda Allen
Trina Rimmer
Cary Glenn

This is going to matter on the jurisdiction, laws and how they are interpreted vary around the world. There might be issues with using Disney/Pixar/Marvel/DC characters. I would think that there would be less of an issue using something like toy soldiers, hot wheels cars, or Lego. These are more generic. If you show a pair of gloves in a course you wouldn't need permission of the manufacturer. There are actually quite a few safety videos out there using Lego (you probably shouldn't use the same characters from the Lego Movie though). There shouldn't be a problem in using toys/characters in a challenge like this. The educational use clause usually is exclusive to public schools. I also don't think that it would be an issue using characters in a portfolio would be an issue, you're not usin... Expand

Barry Johansen
Alexander Salas