Monday, November 15, 2021

Seven Good Tools for Making Animations

Making animations is a great way for students to bring their written stories to life on screen. Depending upon the story, the animation could be as short frame or two that plays for twenty seconds or it could be a five minute story.  

Making animations can also be a good way for students to explain and show their understanding of non-fiction things like historical events and people. Creating animations can also be done to explain complex concepts in simple animations like Common Craft does. 

However you choose to use animations in your classroom, the following seven tools offer good ways for students of all ages to make their own animated videos.

Draw and Tell
Draw and Tell is a free iPad app that has been on list of recommendations for K-2 students for many years. In this free app students can draw on a blank pages or complete coloring page templates. After completing their drawings students then record a voiceover in which they either explain the drawings or tell a story about the characters in their drawings.

Brush Ninja
For almost five years now I've been using Brush Ninja to create simple animations. Here's something I wrote about using Brush Ninja a few years ago in an eighth grade class. This video provides a demonstration of how to use Brush Ninja which is free and doesn't require registration. 

Wick Editor
Brush Ninja is still a great tool for creating animations, but if you want to add sound effects to your animations then you might take a look at using Wick Editor instead. One of the things that I like about it is that you can add sound effects to your animations. Additionally, you also have the option download your animations as GIF or MP4 files. In this short video I demonstrate how to use Wick Editor to create an animation.

ChatterPix Kids
ChatterPix Kids is one of my favorite digital storytelling apps for elementary school students. ChatterPix Kids is a free app that students can use to create talking pictures. To use the app students simply open it on their iPads or Android devices and then take a picture. Once they've taken a picture students draw a mouth on their pictures. With the mouth in place students then record themselves talking for up to thirty seconds. The recording is then added to the picture and saved as a video on the students' iPads or Android devices. Watch my tutorial videos below to learn how to use ChatterPix Kids on Android devices and on iPads.




Slides + Screencasting
Google Slides, like PowerPoint and Keynote, provide users with lots of ways to animate elements within their slides. Use those animation tools to make clipart and simple drawings move on the screen. Then capture those movements with a screencasting tool like Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic. Of course, you'll want to include a voiceover while recording. This method can be used to create animated videos like those made popular by Common Craft. You can read about and then watch this whole process in this Practical Ed Tech article.

Canva
Canva has lots of animation options that you can add to almost any graphic that you create in it. You can animate text, make objects spin and move, and even add audio to play in the background when you make a graphic in Canva. Your finished designs can be downloaded as animated GIFs and as MP4 files. In fact, that's how I make the videos for my Practical Ed Tech Instagram account. Additionally, Canva's new video editor can be used to create animated videos. That's a process that I demonstrate in this video

PowerPoint
Good old PowerPoint has many little features that people overlook or don't even associate with PowerPoint. For example, did you know that PowerPoint has a built-in image background remover? Or that you can create animated GIFs in PowerPoint? You can do both of those things with PowerPoint. Mike Tholfsen has a great video about how to create an animated GIF in PowerPoint.



And here's my video about removing image backgrounds in PowerPoint.

The Science of My Favorite Thanksgiving Foods

I don't think there's a meal I like better than a classic Thanksgiving turkey with potatoes, squash, stuffing and cranberry sauce from a can (my mouth is watering just thinking about the "shlop" sound the cranberry sauce makes as it pops out of the can). Behind all of that deliciousness is a whole lot of interesting science. The Reactions YouTube channel, produced by The American Chemical Society, has a few good video lessons that address the science of a traditional American Thanksgiving meal. 

Better Thanksgiving Potatoes Through Chemistry explains the chemical properties of raw potatoes and which ones to pick for roasting based on their chemistry. The video then goes on to explain the science of roasting potatoes before finally revealing the best method, based on science, for roasting potatoes.



The Truth About Tryptophan explains why it might not be just the turkey that is making you sleepy after a big Thanksgiving dinner.



Finally, How to Fry a Thanksgiving Turkey Without Burning Your House Down provides an overview of the science involved in deep frying a turkey and how you can use that knowledge to avoid a disaster on Thanksgiving.