We have mentioned Comic Life in several other posts but we think it is an absolute basic in a primary teacher toolkit.
For us, the biggest attractions of using something like Comic Life are that:
- Children who are not very artistic or find difficulty in writing love being able to produce a piece of work that looks very professional.
- The programme is very easy to use and children can get started in a few minutes. Most of them will need very little support. I have used the programme with 8/9 yr olds with NO instruction other than to give them 10 minutes playing with it and wandering around helping if they got stuck. (Out of a class of about 20, at least two thirds needed no help at all!!)
- [Initially, they will probably only find out about choosing a ‘template’, dragging photographs, adding captions, speech bubbles and lettering. This is fine. Each time they use it, they will discover more functions (under ‘details’), learn how to change fonts, colours etc.]
- There are lots of ways of exporting the finished product (straight to a website, as images to be stored on the computer etc)
Here are some tried and tested uses in the classroom.
- Making greetings cards for all occasions
- Keeping a diary of what they have done for a week
- Telling an historical story or just loading photographs of historical figures and adding speech bubbles about what they may be saying to each other.
- Describing feelings and emotions – Teacher or children collect ‘thought provoking’ pictures (e.g environmental damage, children in war zones etc ), then add a picture of themselves with a ‘thought bubble’ above their heads. Record in the speech bubble what the picture made them think or feel.
- Summarising dialogue and retelling a story or play in their own words.
- Making lively Powerpoint / Keynote presentations
- Designing a personal name plate – we had children write their name, choose a font, colours, background etc, print, then laminate and used them to label their drawers.
- Making graphic items for wall displays!
- Letting children draw pictures (with quite thick felt tip for clarity), scanning, then loading their images in onto comic life and creating their own, illustrated story
- Representing ANY sequential events e.g frogspawn to frogs, caterpillars to butterflies etc. We have also used it in dance – taking photographs of folk dance sequences and putting them into strip form with narrative explanations.
- Using some of the non-linear templates, making posters to advertise school events (always impresses the parents!)
- Discussing the templates themselves e.g there are strip cartoons, manga templates, super-hero templates. Lots of interesting conversations about what makes them different.
- Graphic art exercises on choosing fonts / colours to represent pictures and actions e.g Which fonts look old fashioned? Which would you use to title a picture of a computer? A space rocket? A dinosaur? A horror film? Etc
- Typing one new word they have learned (e.g last week, in the last book they read etc ) in display lettering and stretching, rotating, enlarging it. Talk about transformations in maths.