TeachersFirst's Comics and Cartoons Resources

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This collection of reviewed resources from TeachersFirst is selected to help teachers and students learn about and create comics in any subject area. Comics have become mainstream in "graphic novels" and can express or explain major concepts, portray the underlying tensions  behind an issue, or simply help students remember terms and definitions. The storytelling potential of comics goes back to cave drawings and can be as simple as a stick figure or as elaborate as a photograph annotated with voice bubbles. Explore these resources for tools and ideas to "draw" comics into your classroom as a tool for learning.

 

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Comic Creator - ReadWriteThink.org

Grades
2 to 12
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Your students will create professional-looking comics in minutes using this Comic Creator site. No log-in is required. Just type in the prompted information, such as the name of comic...more
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Your students will create professional-looking comics in minutes using this Comic Creator site. No log-in is required. Just type in the prompted information, such as the name of comic character, author, caption, and of course, the dialog that goes into the speech bubble. The 'creator' chooses the number of panels, type of characters, style of speech bubble, and various props. Two actions are needed: clicking and dragging the items to go into the comic strip, and typing dialog into the bubbles. Then, presto....a genuine comic appears, ready for printing. The tool DOES support accent marks pasted from Word. (Unfortunately, there is no way to save your comic masterpieces.) This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), sequencing (31), summarizing (13)

In the Classroom

Instead of writing boring summaries, why not summarize through a comic strip. It's much like storyboarding, but the drawing has been left to the Comic Creator pros. Make a class book of the comics created throughout the year. That book will become the most read classroom book of all in an elementary classroom. Use comics to show sequencing of events. When studying about characterization, create dialog to show (not tell) about a character. Another idea - why not use the comic strips for conflict resolution or other guidance issues (such as bullying). Sometimes it is easier for students to write it down (or draw the pictures) than use the actual words. World language and ESL/ELL teachers can assign students to create dialog strips as an alternate to traditional written assessments.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Awesome Comics Webquest - Grammarman.com

Grades
4 to 12
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This complete unit gives ESL/ELL students get an opportunity to create (write and draw) a new comic character for the Grammarman comic series. (See TeachersFirst's...more
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This complete unit gives ESL/ELL students get an opportunity to create (write and draw) a new comic character for the Grammarman comic series. (See TeachersFirst's review of the broader Grammarman web site for other activities that may require less time). Students are able to research the history of comics, drawing, manga, super heroes, character development, and more. Throughout the webquest, students can check out what other students have created. After going through the 8 stages of the webquest, reading, writing, and drawing, your students can submit the finished product to the student pages so others can enjoy their creation. Notes for teachers summarize each of the 8 steps and make suggestions about how to use this webquest in a shorter time period. Eager comic creators who aren't ESL/ELL students will also enjoy a modified version of this quest. This website requires FLASH. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), drawing (78), grammar (216)

In the Classroom

Share this webquest on laptops or a classroom computer cluster for students to accomplish the "quest." Use this project in an ESL/ELL class as a cumulative review of each student's specific grammar problem. Pair ESL students with a native speaker to work on the research and drawing. This creative activity is sure to excite ESL/ELL students and native English speakers.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Garfield's Comic Creator - National Institute of Health

Grades
2 to 6
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Garfield's Comic Creator is a simple site that helps students create their own comic strips using Garfield characters. Students can choose between talking bubbles and thinking bubbles...more
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Garfield's Comic Creator is a simple site that helps students create their own comic strips using Garfield characters. Students can choose between talking bubbles and thinking bubbles as well as adding various backgrounds and accessories. Click on the ?-Box to learn more about how to use this program. This website requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), writing (358)

In the Classroom

Use this site as an anticipatory activity for talking and thinking bubbles, as well as for dialog, by sharing your own example. Students could also use these to summarize a piece of literature or even have Garfield explain a science or social studies concept. Have students print and hand in their completed work for a quick writing sample or assessment tool. The comic strips could be used in any subject area for review or enrichment.

This is also an excellent tool for counselors or emotional/autistic support teachers to use with students. Sometimes students are less threatened to write about fears, conflict, and other issues (rather than say them aloud). ES teachers can use comics to help students learn positive ways to express feelings.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Silly Books - sillybooks.net

Grades
K to 6
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This site offers animated books with audio (some authored by children), jokes, cartoons, interactive games, and more. Some books are in Spanish, as well. Prepare to mark this site in...more
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This site offers animated books with audio (some authored by children), jokes, cartoons, interactive games, and more. Some books are in Spanish, as well. Prepare to mark this site in your Favorites when you see the extensive content. Its name doesn't reflect its depth. Many books have the text displayed, and as each word is spoken, it is highlighted. Students will learn new words used in context, since the stories feature rich vocabulary.

NOTE: The link to "Stumble It" connects to a very intriguing but random way of finding similar web sites, but it has its safety concerns for younger students. Read more about it in our TeachersFirst Edge review of Stumble Upon before you permit your students to use it.

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), listening (91), literature (275), vocabulary (324)

In the Classroom

Have your promising writers submit books for possible publication at this site (with parent permission, of course!). SillyBooks does the illustrating and audio. Make sure you click on the Catalog link to view the vast listing of books to which your class can listen. Use the expression-filled books on your projector or interactive whiteboard as choral reading readers (turn up the speakers!). Be sure to include this site on your teacher web page for students to access both in and outside of class for further reading practice. Spanish teachers, there are a few Spanish-language books available to read and hear. Learning Support and ESL/ELL teachers will love the chance to build student vocabulary as they read -- and perhaps even want to write a story of their own.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Adventures of Tintin at Sea - National Maritime Museum

Grades
3 to 12
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Favorite comic book character Tintin's adventures fill this site with many ways to learn. Students can sequence a story or match up words and images to practice comprehension in ...more
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Favorite comic book character Tintin's adventures fill this site with many ways to learn. Students can sequence a story or match up words and images to practice comprehension in French or English. For students interested in art and comics, the "drawing inspiration" section shows the relationship between original photos and the resulting drawings. Comments by the artist explain how each step occurred. Other features allow viewers to see Tintin's artist at work.

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), french (88), sequencing (31)

In the Classroom

Share this site on a projector or interactive whiteboard to show how the visuals play a key role in communicating meaning in a story. In lower grades, practice sequencing using the activities on this site. In French class, no matter the age, the sequences will be a challenge!In Art class, use the discussions of process to inspire your own students' cartooning projects. For an extension, use a site such as Toondoo to create student "strips."

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Neil Gaiman - Harper Collins

Grades
6 to 12
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Neil Gaiman offers readings and videos of many of his novels and stories on this site along with essays, interviews (including one of his daughter interviewing him) and detailed answers...more
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Neil Gaiman offers readings and videos of many of his novels and stories on this site along with essays, interviews (including one of his daughter interviewing him) and detailed answers about details of his writings organized by title (see FAQs). Additional features include a blog, "Where's Neil?", biographic and award details, and press releases.

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), novels (24), short stories (25)

In the Classroom

Share this site with reluctant readers as a way to interest them in reading more stories and comics about kids like themselves. If you keep a list of author sites for independent reading and book reports, add this one to the list! Tag it "author."

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ToonDoo - Jambav

Grades
3 to 12
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Create your own one to three panel comic strips or --even better- have your students create them using this simple online tool. The libraries include many cartoon figures, voice bubbles,...more
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Create your own one to three panel comic strips or --even better- have your students create them using this simple online tool. The libraries include many cartoon figures, voice bubbles, and more. You can also upload your own photos using the Imaginr(or pieces from them) and create your own characters using the Traitr. For a longer story, make a TOONBOOK instead of a single TOONDOO strip. See a sample made by our techno-savvy editors in just a few minutes. The "published" products can be shared online with the world, shared with a limited audience (probably the safest for students), or kept completely private (visible only to you when logged in).
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), digital storytelling (142), images (265)

In the Classroom

Play with the "Create Your Own" tools to make a TOONDOO or TOONBOOK, including locating characters, resizing, re-ordering, entering text, etc. IF you are feeling adventurous, try upload an image to include. When you are ready, publish the product, publicly by sharing the URL or to opt for a limited audience.

Potential safety concerns: If you are having students create their own TOONDOOS, you will want to prohibit their accessing the links to "popular" TOONDOOS and others available to the public, since the site is open for anyone's idea of "funny" content. Our editors did not see anything objectionable, but you never know.

How can you use this in the classroom? Once you have laid the ground rules, have students create strips with characters explaining a science concept. Or show the steps in a process or procedure, such as the water cycle. Older students can create political satire cartoons. If you have students work from your account, you can provide the "raw materials" of some digital pictures for them to make cartoon explanations of lab safety procedures or nature species. Even little ones can write sentences. Have them work with a partner---and LIMIT their choices to 3 character options so they do not keep changing their minds!

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Newpapers in Education - Capital Newspapers

Grades
2 to 12
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This wonderful, time-tested collection of lesson plans and activities using local newspapers offers a wide variety of motivating plans including how to use different sections of the...more
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This wonderful, time-tested collection of lesson plans and activities using local newspapers offers a wide variety of motivating plans including how to use different sections of the newspaper for educational purposes, how to include multicultural programming when reading them, and how to match curricular content with various newspaper activities (Curriculum Guides). Although these activities originally went with WI newspapers, the activities are flexible. A Special Programs section offers timely, short-term projects that correspond with holidays and seasons and current hot topics. One example of an activity for younger children is the Newshounds Activity Guide for grades 4-6, downloadable in pdf format. The goals of this guide include meshing reading, writing, vocabulary development, and understanding the different parts of a newspaper. Other guides are equally well-developed.

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), fashion (10), news (261), newspapers (94), sports (96)

In the Classroom

Although some of the lessons described here require actual hard-copy newspapers, many can be adapted for the online versions of newspapers, as well. If your schools does not have the means to receive actual newspapers, consider using this resource or this one to find online papers and conduct some of the same lessons. In the course of the discussion, you will inevitably run into some of the differences between hard copy and online newspapers, a topic of basic information literacy in the 21st century as printed papers are rapidly supplanted by online editions.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Captioner - Flickr Toys

Grades
4 to 12
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This creative page allows you to add captions to photographs you have uploaded or found on an online site such as Flickr. A collection of your own photos uploaded to ...more
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This creative page allows you to add captions to photographs you have uploaded or found on an online site such as Flickr. A collection of your own photos uploaded to Flickr can be used easily.

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), images (265), photography (160)

In the Classroom

Locate and upload digital image files or an URL for specific images. Navigate the tools of Captioner by following the simple directions. Monitor the "appropriateness" of images available on Flickr/the web. You might want to specify a tag or collection to work from for some classes. Upload your own set of digital images to Flickr ahead of time. Share also by downloading image to your desktop.

Create a captioned sequence to explain a major concept, such as mitosis or narrative patterns. You could also have students create campaign ads, posters of important people, etc. Have an object explain a concept from its point of view (solar panel tells about itself), have a famous person explain his invention or accomplishment, show what a non-verbal creature or object, such as a cell, is thinking.

Check out the Big Huge Labs educator account. Easily pre-register students to avoid creating logins, view and download their creations, and view the site advertisement free. You will find information about the Educator Account here.

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Drawing from Life - Smithsonian

Grades
7 to 12
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Spice up a history class and generate discussion with cartoons taken from the Smithsonian Institution's American Art/Portrait Gallery Library Collection. Images, dating from 1862 to...more
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Spice up a history class and generate discussion with cartoons taken from the Smithsonian Institution's American Art/Portrait Gallery Library Collection. Images, dating from 1862 to 1955, reflect the power and popularity of this medium throughout American history. Can be browsed by title, artist, or subject.

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74)

In the Classroom

Art and History teachers will love this online collection of comic drawings houses by the Smithsonian. In a class discussion of validity of sources select a few images that were created to reflect on society or satire it. (We recommend Hogarth's engravings if your class is mature enough) Share the images on the interactive whiteboard or projector with the class. Start a discussion as to what students think the meaning and purpose of the image is. Do a few as a class and have students complete the rest of the images on their own. Have students write up a few quick sentences on the remaining images. Teachers can either finish the activity there or have students share their answers later in a discussion.

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America in Caricature: 1765 - 1865 - University of Indiana

Grades
7 to 12
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This site, by the Lily Library of Indiana University, features the wry wit and artistic talents of America's best political cartoonists. Three distinct and turbulent periods in American...more
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This site, by the Lily Library of Indiana University, features the wry wit and artistic talents of America's best political cartoonists. Three distinct and turbulent periods in American history are represented: The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Especially notable are the political cartoons from election years 1860 and 1864. Challenge students to think about how these caricatures compare with those found in today's newspapers.

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), politics (99)

In the Classroom

Select the images that correspond to the unit being covered in your classroom. Print out the caricatures, laminate and bring to class. Seperate students into groups and have them all work on at least one of the images obtained from the class. Have students analyze and dissect the images to gauge the meaning, purpose and intent. This is an activity that does require some substance of background knowledge, so do this more towards the end of a unit as review.

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AMU Cartoon Reprints

Grades
6 to 12
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This site is a searchable archive of cartoons (both comics and editorials) available ONLY FOR USE IN THE CLASSROOM. It's a wonderful source of discussion starters and topical humor,...more
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This site is a searchable archive of cartoons (both comics and editorials) available ONLY FOR USE IN THE CLASSROOM. It's a wonderful source of discussion starters and topical humor, but please read the copyright information carefully. Government and social studies teachers will find the editorial collections particularly interesting.

tag(s): air (163), comics and cartoons (74)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a means to search for political cartoons or cartoons that reflect upon current political events. Showing the image on the interactive whiteboard, use them as a springboard to have a class discussion on where we get information and biases from in the media. What is it that these artists are trying to say? Is humor more effective in getting a point across than text? A very interesting resource for a US government class.

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Teaching Art from Comics - Association of Comics Art Educators

Grades
6 to 12
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This site offers an extensive collection of lesson plans and other resources for teaching cartooning, caricature, and other drawing skills and styles in a studio environment. The content...more
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This site offers an extensive collection of lesson plans and other resources for teaching cartooning, caricature, and other drawing skills and styles in a studio environment. The content includes lots of drawing and examples. These are not trivial lessons, so some level of preparation is certainly appropriate.

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74)

In the Classroom

Use these extremely detailed in your own classroom, via interactive whiteboard or projector. Each presentation comes with notes and a pre-prepared PowerPoint presentation that's ready to be shown to students! Make sure to edit a few slides, the first contain information about class and teacher, and you are good to go! Especially useful in any art, film or social history class.

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Lightbox - Time

Grades
4 to 12
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Explore cutting-edge technology and video from the photo editors of Time with a daily blog from Lightbox. Time Lightbox features photos and videos of current events, behind the scenes,...more
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Explore cutting-edge technology and video from the photo editors of Time with a daily blog from Lightbox. Time Lightbox features photos and videos of current events, behind the scenes, new exhibits, books, and technology. Take another critical view of current events with photos never released or ways never portrayed. This daily, behind the scenes look, lets you know what is happening on the front lines, through photojournalism with portraits, faces, and events that are changing our history. The images give you a mix into the artistic world of photojournalism with a closer look at our world.

tag(s): cross cultural understanding (115), images (265), photography (160)

In the Classroom

Lightbox offers applications into many subject areas in the classroom. In social studies, world histories, or current events look closer at the portrayal of current events. Use this site as an anticipatory set or "activator" to introduce a unit or lesson on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Analyze the viewpoint given by the media and compare to the behind the scenes look at Lightbox. What are the stories, experiences, and effects behind the news? How does history change the lives of people? Discover multiple viewpoints that might come to life from these riveting images. Follow current events and bring them to a personal level for students. In Art classes, dive into the art of photojournalism with composition, style, space, and elements of design. Bring to life a study of current photographers portraying messages in unique manners. In Language Arts class, determine characterization, story, or details discovered in each image. Challenge students to link to one of the photos, and then narrate the photo as if it were a news report using UtellStory, reviewed here. Create audio recordings AND choose a location (on a map) where the story takes place with Woices, (reviewed here). Use images as ready-made writing prompts for current events or writing classes. Develop multiple points of view into well-known events to share, debate, and discover how people are affected. Lightbox will make any blog become dazzling and poignant. Keep students active, reflective, and involved in current events in an intriguing, visual way. ELL/ESL learners will benefit from the extra information shown in each photograph. Challenge gifted learners to analyze and synthesize current events in ways that they have yet to discover! Remember that these images are copyrighted, so the best way to display them on a blog or other web project is as a LINKED image. COPY the direct image URL by RIGHT-clicking on the image itself and choosing "copy image location" on a Mac or "Properties" on a windows computer. Most web tools allow you to insert images by URL, so you can paste the URL to make it display on your blog, wiki, UtellStory, Glog, etc.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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