Monday, December 11, 2017

Five Tools for Creating Animations on Chromebooks

Yesterday's post about the PuppetMaster app prompted a couple of people to ask me if there is anything similar available for Chromebook use. While I can't think of anything that is free and exactly like PuppetMaster, here are some options for creating animated videos on Chromebooks.

Animatron is a nice tool for creating animated videos and images. To create a video on Animatron you start by dragging and dropping characters on a background scene and then choosing how long each character will be displayed in a scene. You can also set the length of time for each character in a scene to be in motion. By using Animatron's timeline editor you can make objects appear and disappear from a scene. The best feature of Animatron is that you can record audio directly over the animation. The built-in recording tools lets you see the scene while you're recording so that you can precisely synchronize each scene with its audio track.

PowToon is a popular platform for creating animated videos. In PowToon students create animated videos on a scene-by-scene basis through a series of slides. Students can choose background scenes, characters, and scene objects from a huge media gallery. After configuring the scenes of their stories, students can record voiceovers or play music in the background.

Toontastic 3D is available to use on Chromebooks that support the use of Android apps. Check this list to see if your Chromebook supports the use of Android apps. On Toontastic 3D students can pick from a variety of story setting templates or they can create their own. Once they have established a background setting students then select cartoon characters to use in their stories. Students can choose from a wide array of customizable cartoon characters or they can create their own from scratch. Once characters are placed into the story scenes students can begin recording themselves talking while moving the characters around in each scene. Students can swap characters between scenes, change the appearance of characters between scenes, and move characters from one scene to the next.



MySimpleshow is a free tool for creating Common Craft-style explanatory videos. MySimpleshow requires you to write a script for your video before you can start adding illustrations and sounds to it. In MySimpleshow you will find a wide variety of script templates that will help you plan your video. The script is written in chapters that become the outline for your video. After you have written your script MySimpleshow will take your chapters and give you suggested images and animations to use. The suggestions are based on the keywords in your script. You also have the option to upload your own visuals to use in your video. Adding narration to your video is the last step in the MySimpleshow editor. There is an automated text-to-speech narration that will read your script as narration for your video. Completed videos can be downloaded and or directly uploaded to YouTube from MySimpleshow.

Scratch is designed for introducing students to programming. Creating animations is part of the programming that students can learn through using Scratch. ScratchJR, available for some Chromebooks, is the version of Scratch designed for students in K-2. Plenty of tutorials abound for getting started using Scratch. The best place for teachers to start is on the Scratch for Educators site. There you will find many tutorials, activity guides, and a curriculum guide. The ScratchEd community is the place to go for inspiration from other teachers who are using Scratch in their classrooms. For example, in ScratchEd you might find something like this Google Doc filled with ideas for using Scratch in elementary school mathematics lessons.


  Scratch Overview from ScratchEd on Vimeo.

Disclosure: MySimpleshow is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Chemistry in Slow Motion

The Periodic Table of Videos produced by The University of Nottingham features a video demonstration of the characteristics of each element in the Periodic Table of Elements. Each element in the Periodic Table displayed on the home page is linked to a corresponding YouTube video.

The Periodic Table of Videos YouTube channel contains some additional features that teachers and students may find worth watching and bookmarking. One example of that is a playlist titled Slow Motion Chemistry. Slow Motion Chemistry contains nineteen videos that capture chemical reactions in slow motion. Some of the things that students can see in the Slow Motion Chemistry videos are a hydrogen explosions, muskets firing, and copper sulfate interacting with ammonia.


Applications for Education
As you can see in the video above the Slow Motion Chemistry videos offer more than just slow motion footage of chemical reactions. A short explanation of what is happening is included in each video. That could make Slow Motion Chemistry a good resource to bookmark and share with your students as part of a flipped lesson or to post on a course website as review material.

A Multimedia Timeline of WWII in Europe

Last week I shared National Geographic's excellent multimedia timeline of the Pacific Theater of WWII. National Geographic offers a similar timeline of the European Theater. While the title of the timeline is World War II in Europe, it does include include events that happened in Africa and some events in the United States. The timeline World War II in Europe includes pictures, text, video, and maps of events beginning with Hitler's first violation of the Treaty of Versailles through the end of the war in Europe.

The timeline is layered in such a way that students can see the overlapping timelines of some events that were happening in various parts of Europe, Africa, and the United States at the same time. The layering of the timeline could help students see how many events of the war didn't happen in isolation from each other.

This timeline was created by using Timeline JS. Timeline JS is one of the tools featured in my Teaching History With Technology course that is on sale through the end of the month. 

Music Crab - A Cute App for Learning to Read Music

Music Crab is simple and free iPad designed to help students learn to read music. The app features a little crab that students move by playing virtual piano keys in the app. To move the crab students have to play the correct notes. If they play too many incorrect notes in a row, the game is over and they have to start again.


Applications for Education
Music Crab features ten levels that students can progress through. Each level is a bit more difficult than the last. In each level the speed of the game increases and students have to improve their sight-reading skills in order to advance through each level.

PuppetMaster - A Great App for Creating Animated Movies

PuppetMaster is a free iPad app that kids can use to create animated movies. The app is designed for elementary school students and therefore doesn't require students to create accounts in order to use it. All movies made with the PuppetMaster app are saved to the camera roll on a student's iPad.

To create an animated movie with PuppetMaster students simply open the app, select a character, and the select a background scene for their movies. PuppetMaster has pre-made characters and background scenes. Students can also add their own background scenes by taking a picture to use as the background. For example, I made a movie with a robot character attempting to reach under the Christmas tree in my living room (you can view that movie here).


Students can record themselves talking or singing in the background of their movies in order to tell their stories. Or in the case of one video that I made with PuppetMaster, you can record a baby crying in your video.


Applications for Education
PuppetMaster could be a great app for students to use to animate stories that they write. You could have students use the app to create an animation of a favorite story that they've recently read. Or you might consider using the app to get students to tell a personal story through the use animated characters.