Sunday, October 20, 2013

5 Free Apps and Sites for Creating Short Animations

Creating animations can be a fun element to add to a creative writing project. Creating the animation could be the final piece of the project in which students bring their short stories to life. You could also have students create short animations to use as story starters for their written works. Here are five free tools that students can use to create animations.

ABCya Animate from ABCya (disclosure, an advertiser here)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.

Stop Frame Animator from Culture Street is a neat tool for creating animated stop motion movies. Creating your animated stop motion video is a simple drag and drop process on Stop Frame Animator. To get started creating your stop motion video select a background scene then drag your characters into place. While you have nine background scenes to choose from, the only characters you can use are wooden manikins. You can position the manikins' arms and legs in every scene. After choosing your scene and characters you can add some other props like chairs and beach balls. And if you want you can add sound effects and music to your video by selecting them from the Stop Frame Animator gallery.

Animation Desk is an iPad app (free and premium versions available) for creating short, animated videos. The app allows you to create drawings using just your finger on your iPad's screen. In the free version of the app (the version that I tried) you can create up to 50 scenes in each of your projects. In each scene you can include as little or as much as you want to draw on the canvas. There are a few different brush and pencil effects that you can use in your drawings. The opacity of the colors you choose can be altered too. When you have completed drawing all of your scenes hit the play button to watch your animation unfold. If you're happy with your animation you can export it to YouTube.

Draw Island is a free online tool for creating drawings and simple GIF animations. Draw Island offers you your choice of four canvas sizes on which you can draw. Draw Island offers two canvas sizes for creating simple GIF animations. To use Draw Island just head to the site and select a drawing tool. You can draw free hand (or should I say free mouse?) or select pre-defined shapes to use in your images. When you're done drawing just click the save button to download your drawing or animation.

Wideo is a service that allows anyone to create animated videos and Common Craft-style videos online. You can create an animated video on Wideo by dragging and dropping elements into place in the Wideo editor then setting the sequence of animations. Each element can be re-used as many times as you like and the timing of the animation of each image can individually adjusted. Wideo's stock elements include text, cartoons, and drawings. You can also upload your own images to use in your videos.

Free Webinar - How to Create Your Own Science Videos

Untamed Science is a producer of educational science videos. I've featured some of their videos in the past. Most recently I featured their video about why leaves change color. On Tuesday, October 22 Untamed Science in collaboration with Pearson OLE will run a free virtual training on making science videos for your classes. In the webinar you will learn some best practices and interesting video techniques that you can use either for yourself or as an engaging classroom project. You can learn more about the webinar and register for it here.



Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Week in Review

It was a busy week here in the land of Free Technology for Teachers. Between moving into a new house and traveling to speak at WLMA 2013, I wasn't able to get as many posts published as I typically do every week. I'll make up for it soon. If you had a busy week too and want to quickly see what other educators liked this week, take a look at this week's most popular posts listed below.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Animated Math Lessons for Kids
2. Five Mathematics Glossaries for Kids
3. JST Virtual Science Center
4. Try Word Hippo for Definitions, Antonyms, Translations, and More
5. 7 Free iPad Apps for Science Lessons

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Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Remind 101 offers a free tool for sending text message reminders to students.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
Vocabulary Spelling City offers spelling practice activities that you can customize.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
ABCya.com is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is organizing two iPad summits this school year.
Metta is a great tool for creating multimedia presentations and quizzes.

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How to Create a Linked Series of YouTube Videos

In my previous post about PBS Math Club I mentioned that you could create similar videos by using the annotations tool in the YouTube video editor. If you would like to try this yourself, I have directions that will walk you through the process. Keep in mind that you can only annotate videos that you own and upload to your YouTube account.

PBS Math Club - Short Interactive Math Videos

PBS Math Club is a new YouTube channel in which students can watch and interact with math videos. Each of the videos contains a series of math lessons and challenge activities. To complete a challenge students click on the video to answer questions. If they answer correctly, they move on to the next question. If they answer incorrectly students are shown another video clip that explains the correct answer. Watch one of the videos below.


Applications for Education
PBS Math Club is just getting started. As more content is added to it, it could become a good source of flipped lesson materials. The videos utilize the YouTube annotations tool which you could also use to create your own series of interactive video lessons.