Saturday, June 30, 2012

Make PicMonkey Collages to Pique Kids' Interest in Books

This week I am away on an offline vacation. Rather than let the blog be dormant or rerunning old posts I decided to give some other people a chance to share their experiences and ideas with you. I hope you enjoy the posts.

I am excited to be here today to let you know that PicMonkey’s Collage tool has gone live and it is awesome! And fun. And easy. No log-in required. But it DOES require some nice thinking from students. Win-win, is that not? The site works through our district filter and with  any browser I’ve tried. Check out Free Technology for Teachers' original post for a basic PicMonkey editor how to. The Collage function is new!

As a teacher librarian I love anything that will pique kids’ interest in books.  This is something I (or any teacher) can do for display around the classroom or web presence.  Even better … it’s something the students can do. Other curriculum areas could certainly use this same tool to demonstrate awareness in their respective areas (landforms, shapes, angles, geography, types of weather, historical landmarks, etc.).

This is an opportunity to either have students use their own photography skills or teach them good digital citizenship and how to look for Creative Commons licensed images. There are many places you can go for possibilities (Stuck? Start here). In this collage I used CC licensed photos from Fotopedia and Morguefile. Please make attribution part of the expectation rubric for the collage (even with sites like Morguefile that don’t require it)!

The easiest way I’ve found is to save the photos in one folder on the desktop (to be moved back and forth from a network drive to work on in multiple class sessions). The source addresses could either then be “stamped” onto the images themselves using the “Add Text” feature of PicMonkey or they could be listed below the collage. If all of the pictures are in one folder it is easy to upload them to the site and don’t start the project until you have at least one or two more photos than you think you will need. You can rearrange the collage, dragging and dropping pictures in different spaces and choosing from several different layout options.

Don’t forget to save the finished collage to the same folder as it will not be saved online.. When you go to save you have three different resolution options (that’s what they are, even though they are given strange names like “Ewan.” I usually just stick with the middle one (though if I were ever going to print something large scale I might bump it up to the highest). The middle one has been fine for web and 8X11 or smaller printing.

If you like you can then reupload the single image collage to basic PicMonkey and put a nice digital frame around it. 

Photos from top left to bottom right: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

This example collages is based on a newly minted  most-favorite books ever. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is a MUST READ if you ever loved Charlotte’s Web. I used to live in WA state a long time ago and would go visit the original gorilla this story is loosely based upon.

Angela Oliverson, known to her students as  Ms. O, is a teacher librarian in San Antonio, TX. She is a proud aunt of eight, a Star Wars fan, and can be found online at as well as @senoritao.