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Saturday, March 8, 2014

5 Ideas for Teaching With Comics and 5 Free Online Tools for Creating Them

I've been thinking about comic strip creation tools quite a bit lately so I decided to share a handful of ideas for teaching with comics and the online tools that students can use to create them.

1. Character Analysis: Have your students choose a favorite character from a favorite story and re-write that character into a comic strip story. In their stories students should attempt to demonstrate how their chosen characters would act in a different situation than is described in the original story.

2. Re-telling of historical events: Have your students create short comic strip stories about significant historical events. For example, students could create comic strips about Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone. The comic strip could have scenes of Bell working in his laboratory or talking to friends about his invention.

3. Create alternative book reports: Rather than writing a book report have your students create three to five frame comic strips covering the key parts of books they've recently read.

4. Create digital citizenship lessons. Have your students create comic strips in which they demonstrate the proper responses to unsafe digital citizenship behaviors.

5. Express feelings: Creating comic strips can be a good way for students to re-tell a situation that made them feel happy, sad, or mad. The use of facial expressions on comic characters is a nice way for students to express their feelings even if they don't write much within the scene itself.


Comic Master is a free tool designed for students to use to create comics in the "graphic novel style" that is popular with a lot of kids in the ten to fourteen years old age range. Comic Master provides a drag and drop interface for students to build their comics on. Students using Comic Master can select from a variety of layouts, backgrounds, characters, effects, and fonts. Students can create free accounts on Comic Master to save their works and edit them whenever they like. Comic Master gives students the option to create and print multiple page stories.

Make Beliefs is a free comic strip creation tool that provides students with a variety of templates, characters, and prompts for building their own comic strips. Make Beliefs provides students with a pre-drawn characters and dialogue boxes which they can insert into each box of their comic strip. The editing options allow users the flexibility to alter the size of each character and dialogue bubble, bring elements forward within each box, and alter the sequence of each box in the comic strip. Students that have trouble starting a story can access writing prompts through make beliefs. Most impressively, Make Beliefs allows users to write their comic strip's dialogue in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portugese, or Latin.

Storyboard That provides templates in which you can create your stories in a comic strip style. To help you create your story Storyboard That provides dozens of scenes, characters, and text bubbles to fill your storyboard's frames. Each element that you drag into your storyboard's frames can be re-sized, rotated, and re-positioned. Storyboard That has free and paid plans. The free plan allows you to create three and six frame stories. The free plan also limits you to three storyboards per week. A paid classroom account offers options for managing student accounts, limiting sharing to classroom members only, and a classroom account offers more frames per storyboard.

Marvel Kids invites kids to create their own super hero comic strips and comic books. Marvel Kids provides users with templates for comic strips and comic books. Users select the backgrounds, characters, and special effects from the provided menus. Arranging each scene and re-size the characters is an easy drag and drop process. After creating their scenes, users can add dialogue boxes to their comics. Completed comic strips and comic books can be downloaded and printed.

Witty Comics provides a simple platform that students can use to create two character dialogues. To use Witty Comics students just need to select the pre-drawn background scenes and the pre-drawn characters they want to feature in their comics. Writing the dialogues is the creative element that is left to the students.

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