The Marvels of Comic Life

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.
For more information on how to use Comic Life, try reading Glen Bledsoe talking about The Benefits of Comics in Education


2 Responses to “The Marvels of Comic Life”

  1. sofiedecupere
    sofiedecupere October 22, 2012 at 18:32 #

    We tested comic life in the third grade of a primary school
    with children that don’t have a lot of ICT-skills.
    The teacher gave instructions for 5 minutes,
    she showed some basic skills.
    Then the children began to make their own ‘comic life’,
    they were free to experience.
    Every child had a very nice result,
    also the children that are less artistic.
    Later that day (after 3 workshops of ICT-integration),
    the children had the opportunity to choose between the 3 workshops and
    many children chose again to work with comic life.
    Some children already used their own photographs and a lot of functions.
    It was a stunning result with a lot of attention for the details.
    It was the first time the teacher and children used it,
    but they will certainly use it again since the experience was so successful.
    Maybe they will use it in a history lesson to make some stories more vivid
    or to illustrate their own profile with their weacknesses and strenghts.

  2. Jesús Martínez October 22, 2012 at 22:24 #

    According to the difficulty of the task, it´s could be doing successfully in the third grade of primary education but in the first and second grade we should use an approach a lot less constructivist

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