Thursday, May 5, 2022

Three Registration-free Drawing Tools for Students

Tools like Google Jamboard and Explain Everything can be great for creating drawings to illustrate concepts. They can also be good tools for students to use to illustrate stories. But sometime you just need a quick and easy tool for students to use to create a drawing or simple animation without having to jump through the hoop of logging into an account. In those instances, the following free tools provide a good way for students to quickly create digital drawings. 

Brush Ninja
For more than 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. The featured GIF in this blog post was created by using Brush Ninja. 


Draw and Tell
Draw and Tell is a free iPad app that has been on my 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.

ABCya Animate
ABCya Animate is a fun tool that allows students to create animated GIFs containing up to 100 frames. On ABCya Animate students build their animation creations by drawing, typing, and inserting images. Students can change the background of each frame, include new pictures in each frame, and change the text in each frame of their animations. The feature that I like best about ABCya Animate is that students can see the previous frames of their animations while working on a current frame. This helps students know where to position items in each frame in order to make their animations as smooth as possible. Students do not need to register on ABCya Animate in order to use the tool or to save their animations. When students click "save" on ABCya Animate their creations are downloaded as GIFs.

Electric Lessons - Energy 101

The ski mountain that is about ten miles down the road from where I live has a large array of solar panels. Their goal is to use as much renewable energy as possible. To that end, another solar array is being constructed about a mile down the road. I noticed the progress earlier this week when I drove past it. That got me thinking about how many solar panels will be needed and it prompted me to look in my archives for some resources for teaching about how electricity is generated. Here are a few that I picked out. 

How Do Solar Panels Work? is a TED-Ed lesson that covers the basics of what solar panels are made of and how electricity is generated from them. The video also delves into some of the political and societal barriers to solar panel installation and solar array developments. 

How Do Wind Turbines Work? is a TED-ED lesson that covers the basics of how wind turbines harness the power of wind to generate electricity. The basic math of wind turbine design is also explained to viewers of the video. Overall, it's a fine lesson but not the most detailed of lessons.

Energy Now News is a YouTube channel featuring videos about energy in the news and educational videos about electricity. Energy 101: Electricity Generation covers the process of producing electricity and getting it to homes and businesses.

Idaho Power offers a short video overview of how hydroelectric dams generate electricity and the process of getting that electricity from a dam to a house. Before you show this video to your students, it might be worth pointing out to them who produced and why they produced it.