TeachersFirst Edge - Animation

 

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Powtoon - powtoon.com

Grades
K to 12
6 Favorites 0  Comments
   
PowToon is an amazing, free, animated presentation tool. Choose from one of many templates available to edit, or start from scratch. Then start making magic! Label your title and description....more
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PowToon is an amazing, free, animated presentation tool. Choose from one of many templates available to edit, or start from scratch. Then start making magic! Label your title and description. Modify slides by changing text, font, image holders, and props. Preview your creation at any time with the play button. Stop and make changes as needed. Change styles easily by choosing a different style within the program. Select from the royalty free music options offered by Powtoon to enhance your presentation. Share the finished presentation via social media buttons on your page to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other popular pages or export to YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, then using YouTube may not be your best option. Use the embed code provided to easily embed in your website or blog -- or simply share your Powtoon using the URL provided. Exports are not included with the free membership plan. Email is required to register and use Powtoon.
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tag(s): animation (59), digital storytelling (135), movies (63), multimedia (52), slides (60)

In the Classroom

Challenge older students to create their own PowToons. Students can use PowToon to share their ideas or to "prototype" an idea. Students can create videos to show math processes, explanations of complex concepts, review new learning, teach others, explain scientific processes, tell stories, or present research. The possibilities are really endless, and students will come up with hundreds more uses. Flip your classroom using PowToon presentations. Use PowToon to create teacher-authored animations for students in ANY grade. This is a great way to present new information or ideas for discussion. It is an easy way to share information with the class when a substitute is in your classroom. Embed your PowToon creations on your website or blog for students to review at home. Use a PowToon on the first day of school to explain class rules or give an exciting introduction to the year ahead. Use PowToon to create movies or presentations for back to school night or conference nights to display on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Teacher-librarians can ask students to create PowToon book reviews to share kiosk style in the library/media center.

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GIFMaker - GIFmaker.me

Grades
K to 12
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Create animated GIF images FREE and EASY using GIFMaker. Animated GIFs are images that change from one image to another automatically. There is no registration required. Select and...more
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Create animated GIF images FREE and EASY using GIFMaker. Animated GIFs are images that change from one image to another automatically. There is no registration required. Select and upload the images that you want to use (in PNG, GIF, or JPG format). Choose your animation speed and image size. You can even choose an image from your smartphone. Animations can be run backwards to create another different animation. Download the finished creation to your desktop.

tag(s): animation (59), images (261), photography (160)

In the Classroom

Create animations of any image! Animate inanimate objects such as a leaf or other object by taking two different pictures of it so it can "change." Use your animations as a focus for story creation or free writing. Animate images used by students for their individual web pages to set the scene for their "About Me" introductions. Design and shoot images to animate as an introduction to a project or report. Challenge older students to create their own animated GIF images. (No registration is required.) Photograph and create GIFs to show two stages of insect development, the growth of a plant, or other scientific concepts.
 
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Wideo - Wideo

Grades
K to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Create animations using a wide variety of characters, props, templates, and backgrounds with this free tool. Easily upload your own images. Add your own music or voice overs. Even...more
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Create animations using a wide variety of characters, props, templates, and backgrounds with this free tool. Easily upload your own images. Add your own music or voice overs. Even though this is a very easy to understand tool, be sure to check out the tutorial after registering. The handy templates allow you to "re-use" a sample, adding your own text to a video that already has music, special effects, and more! No "techy" expertise needed. View the sample Wideos. Visit the gallery for more ideas. Add characters, props, backgrounds, and more with the plus button along the top left. View the timeline for your scene along the bottom. Flip, zoom, or arrange items on your page using buttons above the timeline. To animate your object, drag the character where you would like them to move. Your animation can either be private or public! Check out a video on Wideo here.

tag(s): animation (59), video (251)

In the Classroom

Wideo is much like Go Animate reviewed here. However, Wideo's advantage is in the ability to upload your media. (Note: This could be a disadvantage if inappropriate material from the general public is uploaded. The site does have a public gallery, but nothing inappropriate was viewable at the time of this review. It is always wise to check the gallery prior to using in class (or simply steer the class away from the gallery.) This tool has a wide variety of applications for the classroom. Have students make an animation about a historical figure or a character in a novel. As students write their own story, use Wideo to animate the characters. Use Wideo to explain lab procedures or make a commercial about the superpowers of an element. If you use a template, the work will be quick and can focus on content instead of glitz. Students can explain vocabulary words, chemical equations, solving for X and more. Challenge your gifted students to create an entire animated series. ESL/ELL or world language students could create animations to practice or explain their new vocabulary. Use one of the templates to "advertise" an upcoming class project or even the daily homework assignments on your class we page. Have students help create ads for new books in the library!

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Alice - Carnegie Mellon University

Grades
6 to 12
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Alice will have your students in wonderland as they use this innovative 3D programming environment targeted to middle and high school students. Be the director of a movie or the ...more
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Alice will have your students in wonderland as they use this innovative 3D programming environment targeted to middle and high school students. Be the director of a movie or the creator of a video game. 3D objects appear in an on-screen virtual world imagined by the creator and move around according to the directions you give by dragging and dropping tiles. The drag and drop technique provides a more engaging programming experience for first time programmers. Alice provides exposure to object-oriented programming. Alice has practical value for students to learn how computers think. The instructions correspond to standard statements in a production oriented programming language, such as Java, C++, and C#. While using Alice, programmers are able to immediately see how their animation program runs and the behavior of the objects in their animation. Manipulate camera angles and lighting to make further enhancements. Alice is a revolutionary method to teach programming, especially to first-time learners. It allows students to understand programming concepts, a 21st century skill.

tag(s): animation (59), digital storytelling (135), video (251)

In the Classroom

Be sure to check with your Technology Department, as many districts require authorization to download or install new applications. Plan ahead as you request that this application be installed on your classroom or laptop cart computers. Alice provides an opportunity for students to create and learn how to problem solve. Subscribe to the teacher list to receive updates and integration ideas for Alice. The purpose of this list is to provide an easy way to ask questions and collaborate with the Alice teaching community. View and use activities to increase programming knowledge and the use of the Alice program.

Students quickly catch on to Alice when allowed to play and easily see what they can make from it. Provide a simple assignment with defined rules/tasks to learn the tools as well as the drag and drop interface. Have students use a storyboard to organize their creation in order to keep tabs on students and their creations. Build games to review curricular material for assessments. Have students create videos or digital stories to bring a subject to life. Teachers of gifted can turn their students loose to create animations about individual interests or research projects.

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Blender - Blender.org

Grades
5 to 12
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Interested in making a professional quality animation? Blender is an open-source, downloadable 3D rendering program that is free! Blender offers an array of essential tools for animation...more
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Interested in making a professional quality animation? Blender is an open-source, downloadable 3D rendering program that is free! Blender offers an array of essential tools for animation in the following categories: Interface, Modeling, Rigging, Rendering, Animation, UV Unwrapping, Shading, Physics and Particles, Imaging and Compositing, and Real Time 3D/Game Creation. Since this tool is open source, many scripts for extra tools can be downloaded from the user forums. Even though this tool is time consuming to learn, many detailed tutorials are available on the Blender website. There is also help in the community forum. Download is available for Windows, Mac, or Linux. Be sure to check out the animations in the gallery for great ideas of what this tool can do. Although this site could be used by some younger students, an adult would need to supervise and assist.
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tag(s): animation (59)

In the Classroom

Use this fantastic tool to create professional looking animations. Be sure to bookmark on a class computer or list on your class blog, wiki, or site. Students can challenge their animation building skills with this fantastic resource. Despite the learning curve, students can really learn a lot about making great animations with this fabulous tool. Use this animation tool to make story characters, animals in a food chain, figures in history, and other animations. Challenge your gifted students to create animations to share with the rest of the class. Have students create a review "game" using this animation tool.

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ClassTools - Russel Tarr

Grades
K to 12
9 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Classtools offers online game, quiz, and concept map generators to use in any classroom with any subject. Templates make it easy. NO registration is necessary. Just start right in!...more
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Classtools offers online game, quiz, and concept map generators to use in any classroom with any subject. Templates make it easy. NO registration is necessary. Just start right in! Make games public on their website or blog using the link provided upon completion. Templates include Fakebook, Tweet Generator, an SMS conversation (text message) simulator, QR Treasure Hunt, Fishbone, Random Name Generator, Burger Diagram (essay writing), Countdown Timer, and many more. The complete list of templates is on the right sidebar of the site. Follow the easy step-by step directions provided. View the video tutorials on the main page to learn more.
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tag(s): essays (21), qr codes (21), social networking (113), spelling (168), twitter (51), vocabulary (323), word choice (26), word study (80)

In the Classroom

The possibilities abound in nearly any subject area. Be sure to check out all of the free templates to use. Use the many tools yourself or have your students create a Fakebook page or use the Tweet Generator to present information in any subject area. Create a Fakebook page about a famous historical person or government figure in social studies or science class. Share the Burger Diagram for writing essays. Use the Arcade Game Maker to create practice activities for students who need the extra help. Create a random word generator with vocabulary from a Science or Social Studies unit to review before testing. Allow students to create Venn diagrams to be posted on the class website using information from current lessons. Use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here). Save this site in your Favorites on your teacher computer!

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LiveTyping - Online Text Recorder - LiveTyping Studio

Grades
3 to 12
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LiveTyping is a text recorder that records as you type. It records absolutely everything entered, typos, deleted letters, new versions... etc. When finished, click "Enliven" button...more
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LiveTyping is a text recorder that records as you type. It records absolutely everything entered, typos, deleted letters, new versions... etc. When finished, click "Enliven" button to replay what you typed. Use links to view the text as a picture link (animated gif format), obtain code to place in a website or blog, or code for use in a forum. Options include choices of font type and size, typing speed, and size of image. Note that the link to "Truly Lives" displays what others are typing or have typed. These may not be appropriate for young people, so avoid this area. Play a sample here.
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tag(s): editing (58), note taking (31), paragraph writing (17), process writing (40), sentences (52)

In the Classroom

Use LiveTyping on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) as an interesting way to demonstrate editing or improving sentence/paragraph writing. Type or copy/paste in text, make editing changes, then "Enliven" to save the image or to replay the finished product. Have students do the same to show their own editing/revision process. Teach about different types of sentences (simple, compound, complex, etc.) by typing with this tool and sharing the examples on your class web page, showing how to combine sentences or improve sentence variety. Compose paragraphs and improve the topic sentence LIVE with "instant replay" for students to see how the writing/thought process can work. Then have them make their own in class or for homework. Use the codes provided to embed or save completed examples on your class website, wiki, or blog for students to view at home. Use different examples for students to use as a resource for editing decisions. During poetry month or a poetry unit, challenge students to write a haiku "live" or to add figurative language to a simple line of poetry "live" as we watch.

Demonstrate note-taking or composing a "main idea' sentence as a class after reading a passage and share the final product as an example. What a great tool for science or social studies literacy for Common Core!

Teachers could share tonight's homework assignment using this engaging tool and share it on the class web page in hopes that students might actually DO it!

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Make an Animation - ABCya!

Grades
2 to 8
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This cool tool, developed especially for older elementary to middle school students, allows you to create simple animations. You are provided with 40 frames. Click to choose your color,...more
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This cool tool, developed especially for older elementary to middle school students, allows you to create simple animations. You are provided with 40 frames. Click to choose your color, brush size, and more. The site includes the options to copy a frame, draw with a pencil instead of a brush, save, undo, clear and start over, and more. This is a simple to use tool. More in-depth instructions are provided on the site. Animations are saved as a .gif file. Read the tips on the home page to learn how to open your downloaded .gif.
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tag(s): animation (59), creativity (108)

In the Classroom

This site is useful for both teachers and students. During the first day of school, create a simple animation to share with your class. Highlight information about yourself, class rules, highlights from the year, and more. Create math animations showing different geometric shapes on 2-3 slides (just click to copy a frame, rather than remaking the slide) and giving the students a chance to guess the shape before the answer is provided on the next slide. Challenge students to create their own animations "introducing themselves" to the class. Students could also create animations to demonstrate what they have learned about a piece of literature, a science unit, social studies theme or unit, or more. Save the students' work and share the animations on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Challenge your gifted students to create animations about their in-depth interests or curriculum concepts they have pretested out of so others in the class can learn from them. This tool is simple enough for bright students in early elementary to navigate on their own, a real asset when your gifted ones are working alone while you teach others.

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Gickr - Gickr.com

Grades
K to 12
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Create gif animations easily from uploaded images using this site. Images can be uploaded from computer files, pulled from Flickr, or pulled from YouTube videos. Choose up to four images,...more
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Create gif animations easily from uploaded images using this site. Images can be uploaded from computer files, pulled from Flickr, or pulled from YouTube videos. Choose up to four images, select size and speed, then select the continue button in the right-hand corner of the screen. Images can take up to a few minutes to process before seeing the resulting gif. When the animated gif is created, share using links on the page to many popular social sharing sites or download to your computer.
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tag(s): animation (59), images (261)

In the Classroom

Create an animated gif for any subject as an introduction to a new unit. Include images to spark student conversation as a way of determining background knowledge before teaching. Share this site with students to use when creating multimedia projects. Create a fun image to use on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) when introducing the student of the week. Share student-created images on your classroom website or blog to enhance or inspire student writing or poetry projects. Make a class mascot image to include on your wiki or blog and have young students write stories about it.

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Mugeda - mugeda.com

Grades
4 to 12
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Try this high interest animation tool without expensive programs, downloads, or installations. Mugeda is a free, cloud-based HTML5 animation platform, where you can create, share, and...more
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Try this high interest animation tool without expensive programs, downloads, or installations. Mugeda is a free, cloud-based HTML5 animation platform, where you can create, share, and publish HTML5 animation. Basic tutorials guide you to create content with easy to follow instructions. Animation applications include; games, ads, cartoons, tutorials, or persuasive commercials. Use tablets, PCs, smartphones, or tablets. Note that HTML5 works on iPads and iTouches, where most Flash-based sites do not.

tag(s): animation (59), comics and cartoons (74), DAT device agnostic tool (192)

In the Classroom

Bring along Mugeda in your bag of tricks to capture and intrigue all of your students. Use Mugeda to illustrate class content, support debate, persuade, and entertain. The possibilities are endless! Add the creations to your website to share with your community. Use on school news programs to add student content without cost, and make information available for all levels of student abilities. Create commercials for your content or to convey information. In history classes go back in time to envision popular opinion that made history happen. Use during campaigns to promote your side of the debate. Science fairs will never be the same. Highlight projects to create anticipation. Send messages to students using the embedded tool. This programming tool has applications in all subject areas. Gifted students, ELL/ESL students, and remedial students will be captivated by this high interest way of expressing themselves.

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Draw Island - DrawIsland.com

Grades
2 to 8
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Create drawings and simple gif animations. Four canvas sizes are available for drawing and two sizes are included for creating gif animations. Select a drawing tool to draw free hand...more
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Create drawings and simple gif animations. Four canvas sizes are available for drawing and two sizes are included for creating gif animations. Select a drawing tool to draw free hand or select pre-defined shapes to use in your images. Click the save button to download your drawing or animation to your computer.

tag(s): drawing (77), graphic design (34)

In the Classroom

Allow students to create collaborative drawings through this site as responses to literature. Share the finished products on an interactive whiteboard, projector, or your class website. Have a group of students create a drawing, then another group can use that as a story prompt. Use this site with students in a computer lab (or on laptops) setting to create a drawing of the setting of a story as it is being read aloud. Have students create an online book of images and captions about any topic using saved images using bookr (reviewed here)
 

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JellyCam Stop-Motion Maker - Chris Dennett Tickly Pictures

Grades
4 to 12
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Interested in stop motion animation, but think it is too complicated? JellyCam is a free program for creating stop motion movies. JellyCam is a software download for Windows computers...more
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Interested in stop motion animation, but think it is too complicated? JellyCam is a free program for creating stop motion movies. JellyCam is a software download for Windows computers and Macs for creating stop motion movies using the computer web cam or an assortment of pictures. Adobe Air is required and is a free and simple install. Be sure to check out the specs required for installation. Easily use images from your computer or ones captured from your webcam. Upload a soundtrack if desired. View the video tutorial before beginning to get an overview of how to use the site. Select images, and then quickly arrange them into a sequence. Then determine how many images you want per frame. View the demo video to learn more about this neat program!

tag(s): animation (59), movies (63), video (251)

In the Classroom

Use JellyCam to show time consuming or difficult processes broken down frame by frame. For example, long games of Chess could be turned into a video that just highlights player moves. For Science, show processes such as diffusion and osmosis (drop food coloring in water and watch it spread over time) or create DNA models that you actually show moving performing a process one step at a time. In math, build geometric structures or find math in everyday actions. Create a stop motion of actors throughout a scene. Show the creative process in creating a work of art. Have students use your webcam or digital camera to capture images showing a sequence of events within a story or book. Use this site to retell science concepts (life of a cell, human stages of development, and others). Groups of students can create the dialogue or narration for the video by using a program such Blabberize (reviewed here). Share student videos using a tool such as SchoolTube reviewed here.

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Disapainted - Matus Lestan

Grades
4 to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Make a series of sketches; then turn them into an animation with one click! Set up an account (free) and create an avatar to practice using the simple drawing tools. ...more
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Make a series of sketches; then turn them into an animation with one click! Set up an account (free) and create an avatar to practice using the simple drawing tools. Draw "cells" in which the action slowly progresses. Finally, click to see your cells together as animation! Typical basic drawing tools include a brush, a line, curvy lines, rectangle and circle shapes, polygons, paint, spray, colors, and an eraser. You can save and publish final animations. Be certain to preview anything you wish to share with your class. This site does not require Flash, but rather Java. It therefore will work on iOS devices!

tag(s): animation (59), drawing (77)

In the Classroom

Use this site to draw a quick sketch to show to your class instantly. Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students explore this site independently or in small groups. Use this site as the way to add another dimension to individual or group projects. Encourage your students to use this tool for projects, such as simple animations of the rock cycle or water cycle, cells dividing, etc. Share the various projects on your interactive whiteboard or class wiki by url.

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Font de Music - Rightwork, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Font de Music lets you add sound and movement to words. You write your text, select font, choose color, and add movement to your words by moving your mouse up ...more
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Font de Music lets you add sound and movement to words. You write your text, select font, choose color, and add movement to your words by moving your mouse up and down. Creations can be shared via a link or through Twitter. No limit on words is stated on the site, but it appears that you can put in a few words. Note: this site loads more slowly at high traffic times. You will notice that the site creators are not very good at spelling in English. Some directions are misspelled, but the tool works. Here is an example of a musical vocab word created by TeachersFirst.

tag(s): animation (59), vocabulary (323), word study (80)

In the Classroom

Use this site to spice up some lessons around vocabulary -- what "mood" would you choose for an individual word? Or, if students were to create one of these musical pieces around their name, what decisions would they make for font, color and music? Students can use the site to make online presentations interesting, just link to their creation for inclusion in reports in Prezi reviewed here or other presentations. Use the site as an interesting way to begin a lesson and capture students' attention. Use this site as a first week of school activity. Have students write in their names and favorite hobby or color and put it to music!
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Dvolver - Movie Maker - Ben Rigby

Grades
7 to 12
1 Favorites 1  Comments
   
Dvolver creates animated movies online. In no time at all, there is an animation of your topic. No membership is needed to create movies. Membership is free. Some content choices ...more
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Dvolver creates animated movies online. In no time at all, there is an animation of your topic. No membership is needed to create movies. Membership is free. Some content choices may be inappropriate for the classroom. The scene descriptions include things like "freeze your butt off" at the mountain scene, so less mature students will not manage this tool well. Always preview or use under supervision, depending on your teaching situation and students' maturity level. Here is a sample Dvolver movie made by our review team. Tip: email the finished movie to yourself to obtain the url or find it amid the embed code, if you are enough of a "geek."

Devolvr content may be problematic in some middle school/junior high settings, depending on community standards and student maturity levels. Teachers should preview to determine suitability at their own school or use only in a teacher-supervised setting.
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tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), video (251)

In the Classroom

Model how to use this site safely on your projector or interactive whiteboard so students can learn how to act wisely online. Doing this also provides you with the ability to point out specific features students should not use and to spell out consequences. Some districts may filter this site. Follow district policy to see if you can request it be unblocked for educational purposes. Have students create commercials for any or all content areas. The videos are short and limited in the number of characters for text. This means they take very little time to create which makes the tool very versatile. Use this to create beginning of the year "do's and dont's" for your classes instead of rule lectures. Try one for open house to let parents know quickly what is going on in your class. Embedding results in a class wiki or web page will avoid issues with students venturing into undesirable areas of the site. Primary teachers could make quick "movies" as a class using sight words in the speech bubbles so students can practice reading them at a center.

Comments

Not appropriate for elementary or middle school students. Options suggest or lend themselves to inappropriate content. Characters are overtly sexual and scantily clad. Editors Note: Thank you for your comment. We have raised the grade level and added a strong warning. Dwight, , Grades: 3 - 7

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Blabberize - Mobouy Inc.

Grades
1 to 12
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Blabberize is a photo editing tool that creates talking animations from a photo or other image. Browse the ready-made blabbers or create new ones. There are some real treasures among...more
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Blabberize is a photo editing tool that creates talking animations from a photo or other image. Browse the ready-made blabbers or create new ones. There are some real treasures among the ready-mades. These will help you get ideas for ways to use a Blabber! Here is an example created by the TeachersFirst Edge team. Upload an image from your computer, select an area to become the talking "mouth," and record sound from the mike on your computer. Sound can also come from a sound file you upload. You will need to "allow" access to your computer's microphone. You have 30 seconds to narrate your photo. When you complete the blab, click SAVE. You will be prompted to create an account on the spot. You will also have the options to mark your blab "mature" or "private" (not shown on the "latest" pages and other public areas). Completed Blabs can be shared via email or embedded in another web page, blog, or wiki. Users unfamiliar with copy/pasting embed code can simple share by the URL of the blab's page.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): animation (59), images (261), photography (160)

In the Classroom

If your students have never tried to make a Blabber, share the introduction blab on the home page (click the Blabberize logo to get there) on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Browse a few examples first to get ideas on how to make a mouth on your photo to move and "talk." Be sure to turn up your sound! Have a student demonstrate uploading an image from a safe and legal source. You may want to use a single, whole-class account you create with your "extra" email account. Be sure to spell out consequences of inappropriate use/content of blabs. Have students enter the site through the "Make" page link provided in this review to steer clear of the "latest" blabs. You may want your students to make their blabs "private" so they do not show on the public areas, depending on school policies.

Blab the homework directions on your teacher web page. Have your students use photos or digital drawings to "blab"! Have students draw in a paint program, save the file, and then make it "speak." Spice up research projects about historic figures or important scientists. Have literary characters tell about themselves. This tool is great for gifted students to go above and beyond the basics with an independent project. Create entire conversation sequences of blabs between people in world language or ESL/ELL classes (with students speaking in the language, of course), then embed them in a wiki. Have speech/language students make blabs to practice articulation and document progress over time. Promote oral reading fluency with student-read blabs. Create book "commercials." Have students blab what the author may have been thinking as he/she wrote a poem or literary selection or as an artist painted. Blab politicians' major platform planks during campaigns for current events. Blab the steps to math problem solving. Even primary students can make an animal blab about his habitat if you set up the blab as a center. Make visual vocabulary/terminology sentences with an appropriate character using the term in context (a beaker explaining how it is different from a flask?) Students could also take pictures of themselves doing a lab and then blab the pictures to explain the concepts. This would be a great first day project (introducing yourself and breaking the ice). Share the class blabs on your class web page or wiki! Give directions to your class (for when a substitute is there). Use at back to school night to grab parents' attention for important information.

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Spore Creature Creator - Electronic Arts, Inc.

Grades
2 to 12
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Use Creature Creator to make interesting and imaginative animals. Your students may recognize it as a tool for making characters for the Spore video game, but it is actually a ...more
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Use Creature Creator to make interesting and imaginative animals. Your students may recognize it as a tool for making characters for the Spore video game, but it is actually a useful tool for learning, as well. Use a pre-made creature or create your own custom creature. Add carnivore features to your creation that include mouths, ears, eyes, arms, hands, feet, and legs. Weapons such as horns, spikes, and clubs can also be added to the creature as well as wings. Change the position of the features and alter them through unbelievable joint changes which then alter how your creature walks and moves. Paint your creation when done and place it in its woodland environment. The creature can walk, show emotion, have offspring, and make sounds. Use the software to take a picture, record a movie, and make an avatar. By adding a description and tags, your creation can be uploaded to the spore website or to a You Tube account. Here is the first Spore tutorial , which is hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, it may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

Creature Creator is a free download but is a limited version of the original purchased program. The purchased program provides many more choices for the features and environments used to make the creatures. The download is available for both PC and Mac.

tag(s): adaptations (17), animals (277), animation (59), classification (25)

In the Classroom

User needs to be able to download and install the free program. Easy to use interface. Start with a blob, which you manipulate into a shape, pulling its spinal cord in any direction with the mouse, before adding a head, limbs and various optional extra body parts. Choose your part by using the onscreen catalog. Manipulate it further by changing the position of joints or through adding or deleting segments. Add a background and move your creature by dragging your mouse for it to follow. Continue to alter your creature to get the movement or features needed.

Pressing "H" brings up the spore guide which includes topic categories such as "Welcome to Spore," "Getting Started," "Build Mode," "Test Drive," and "Paint Mode."

Check your district policy on downloading and installing of programs. Check with your IT department. Teachers who must request software installation by tech staff may want to try this tool at home and create some sample projects to convince administration of its educational value.

Uploading pictures and videos of creations to You Tube or the spore site may expose students to advertising as well as inappropriately created creatures. You may want to send students directly to URLs for their own projects, maintain the creatures on the classroom computer itself, or use Teacher Tube to upload the creations. Uploading creatures enables outsider comments without teacher control. Outsiders can interact or mark the creations as favorites. Many school policies prohibit such interaction, so be sure to check your school policy. You will want to discuss these features in the context of Internet Safety or establish specific written class rules and consequences for interacting with outsiders. Student work can be saved as a picture and printed, as well, for sharing and showing. Check your school policies on whether student work may be displayed online and what information is permitted, then enforce that policy with your students.

The tool does not show which work is attributable to each student. You may want to require student initials on projects in order to get credit.

Use Creature creator to create an unusual creature as a class project. Create a classification system of all the class creatures to demonstrate biology classification skills. When discussing the groupings in the Animal Kingdom, use Creature Creator to create a new organism for that group. Use the tool to create a class creature with adaptations to a specific environment. Have students create a creature and then write a story or poem about it and how it lives. Have students create a creature as a self-portrait of personality or other traits the students possess. Students can design and draw habitats that would house their creation including the calculation of the volume and area the housing would require. Use a classroom projector or white board to share/create creatures in class and discuss specific features of the creatures.

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Scratch - Lifelong Kindergarten Group, MIT Media Lab

Grades
1 to 12
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Want to get in touch with your inner child? Get Scratch! Warning: The use of this application is quite fun and engaging! Scratch is a downloaded program that creates interactive ...more
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Want to get in touch with your inner child? Get Scratch! Warning: The use of this application is quite fun and engaging! Scratch is a downloaded program that creates interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art. This application can be used for bringing simple ideas and projects to life. It has great use as a paint program without using the animations. Downloads/install files are available for Mac or PC. Other links include a Getting Started pdf, Help screens to show what each block controls and how to use, and a Reference Guide which provides an overview of the interface. A support page is also available for help in using the application.

Material created can only be viewed within the program. Drawings are not saved as a jpg or pic file. However, a "snapshot" of the screen can be created by using these keys in Mac: apple, shift, and 4 and click/drag to surround the portion to save. In PC use: control/print screen. These snapshots can be uploaded or used as a picture in other applications.

tag(s): animation (59), drawing (77)

In the Classroom

Quick start: Click stage and in the center pane, click on backgrounds. Click on paint to make a new background. Different colors, pens, and materials can be used to create the background or an image can be brought in from your computer. Objects in Scratch are called a Sprite and can be added in by choosing the folders below the screen. By clicking the script tab, blocks can be moved in to create motion, add sounds (even record your own message), and change the look of the Sprite. Blocks are linked on to each other to create a series of events. A control block dragged to the top of the blocks control which key starts the event. Advanced options include adding variables and other controls.

Be sure to check with your Technology Department, as many districts require authorization to download or install new applications. Projects can be shared online; however an account is required.

Work is saved to the computer itself and only shared online via an account. To avoid problems concerning content made by outsiders or issues with sharing, save the work locally and either create your own gallery on a supervised class website/wiki or set up a single account where you share the "best" projects online via your own log-in. Remind students of the school's Acceptable Use Policy and consequences of violations, if you do allow them to join/share. Images used should adhere to all copyright rules. Use pictures taken in class or those with Creative Commons licensing (and provide attribution!).

Practical tips: Students quickly catch on to this program when allowed to play and easily see what they can make from it. Provide a simple assignment with defined rules/tasks to learn the tools. Younger students may familiarize themselves more easily working with a partner. Have students use a storyboard to write down what they will do/draw/say in their creation in order to keep tabs on what students and their creations.

Possible uses: For the lower grades, Scratch provides unlimited possibilities. Use as a new way to show vocabulary usage. Use the paint program to add information to a picture from your class field trip or science experiment. Use Scratch to help in storytelling a concept in a new and unique way, such as how rocks are formed. In the upper grades, use Scratch to show complex material in a new way. For example, students can draw DNA and show replication, etc. through their drawings and storytelling. Draw the different movements of landforms in plate tectonics. Draw or illustrate solutions to Math problems.

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