Technology provides a wide range of tools for accessing and creating digital stories. From digital cameras and paint software to online tools, select tools that facilitate the storytelling process.
Comic books and graphic novels are popular with all ages. Read Understanding Comics and Making Comics by Scott McCloud to learn more about the language of comics.
Let's explore an example. Read the award winning graphic novel: The Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan. Write your own graphic novel set in Baghdad. Use the Comic Life software available for the Mac. Export your graphic novel as web pages. See a sample page - Bombs, Barbed Wire and Baghdad.
Whether using a specialized tool such as Comic Life or use an online comic maker like MakeBeliefsComix, adapting Microsoft PowerPoint, or other productivity tools, or it's easy to create visually pleasing and motivating projects.
Comic Life for the Mac
Until recently, it's been difficult for the "artistically challenged" to create professional quality comics. With Comic Life software for the Mac, it's easy. Users select and adjust panels, choose graphics, and drag bubbles onto a page. It's great whether using photos, clipart, or original drawings. A beta version Comic Life for Windows is now available also.
Online Comic Creators
Start with a simple activity focusing on a 2-4 panel comic strip. Use MakeBeliefsComix for a simple assignment to teach about the basics of comic making. Also try Comiqs (although service is sometimes down).
Although MakeBeliefsComix is the best online tool for teaching basic comic strip production, you may wish to try some of the following tools too:
- Boy's Life Creator
- Captain Underpants
- Disney's Comic Creator
- Garfield's Comic Creator
- Kabam! Comic Creator
- ReadWriteThink Comic Creator
Comics with "Call-out" Bubbles in Word and PowerPoint
If you don't have Comic Life software, you can still use the "callout" bubbles in Word or PowerPoint to create comic strips, show conversations, provide directions, and many other activities. Check out the Copyright project that uses bubbles and Flash softwre.
Let's tell stories about shopping. Right-click and Save as Target the What's for lunch? PowerPoint. Use the clipart provided to design an activity for your students. Use rectangles to create the feel of a comic strip. Open Eating to see an example using custom animation to reveal the bubbles in a particular order. Design an assignment focusing writing. Create an example or sample to get students started.
If you want PowerPoint pages that look like comic pages, download Comic Pages (PPT). Check out the Music at the Market (PPT) example. Click the photo below to enlarge. It simply uses photos and call-out bubbles to tell a sequential story.
Use the following directions to create your own in PowerPoint.
To create call-outs:
- Click the Autoshapes option on the Drawing toolbar.
- Choose a call-out you wish to use.
- Click and drag to create the bubble.
- Resize by dragging a handle/dot from the edge of the graphic.
- To send the bubble to the back or front of another picture, right-click on the edge of the bubble and choose Arrange.
- To move or resize the directional area of the graphic, drag by the yellow dot.
- To enter text, simply select the graphic and start typing. You will not see an I bar.
- You can change the line thickness, color fill, and font of the bubble.
To create sounds:
- Pull down the Insert menu, choose Movies and Sounds, select Record Sound.
- Give your sound a name.
- Record your sound. Click OK.
To create animation:
- Pull down the Slide Show menu, select Custom Animation.
- Choose the first text bubble you wish to appear.
- Choose add an effect.
- Choose effect options and choose a sound to play. Choose the name of the sound.
- Choose the next text bubble and add the effect and sound.
- Click OK when you’re done.
- You must run the slide show for the animation to work.
Read comics online and notice how the bubbles appear in comics and graphic novels.
Student Produced Comics - Amazing Kids,
Archie, Mark Trail - comic in nature (NOAA), Peanuts
Links to Comics: Comics.com, Go Comics, The Universe of Comics, King Features
- Use specific vocabulary in the bubbles such as verbs, adverbs, adjectives, figurative language.
- Compare fact and opinion. One person telling a fact and another person telling an opinion about a situation.
- Retell a fairy tale, folktale, myth, or legend.
- Tell about a right and a responsibility. Use bubbles to describe the right and responsibility. Example: right to own property, responsibility for maintenance of house.
- Use a bubble to state a rule or a law. Then, write about why the rule or law exists. What would happen without the rule or law?
- Read a book illustrating the virtues. Create a comic series that demonstrates a civic virtue such as fairness, honesty, compassion, responsibility. Use bubbles for dialog.
- Describe goods (i.e., food, toys, computers) and services (i.e., hair cut, dentist). Also, consider a bubble for the person providing the service (i.e., owner, doctor, salesperson) and the person receiving the service (i.e., patron, customer, client)
- Use bubbles to tell about parts of a primary source document.
- Compare the making of rules by direct democracy and by a republication form of government.
- Use bubbles to describe the roles of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and/or the Constitution. Use the signer.ppt as a starter.
Ideas: NARA Declaration of Independence Signer's Gallery, Constitution Day, National Constitution Center
Sequencing with Timelines
Besides comic strips, another way for student to tell stories is through timelines. These are particularly useful in history, but also in other areas of the curriculum where sequencing is important.
Let's look at economics and food production. Right-click and Save as Target the eggs.ppt project. Use this as an example. You could also add your voice. Right-click and Save as Target the milk.ppt project. This one is ready for students to write. You could also have a one page version such as milk2.ppt. Ask students to place the photos in order, then write about milk. Create your own sequencing activity using one or several slides.
Let's look at history. Right-click and Save as Target the economics3.ppt, people.ppt, music.ppt, and transportation.ppt project. Students must put the pictures in order, then write about how economics has changed over time. Create your own sequencing activity using one or several slides. Look for standards that use the word "change" or "movement."
Try some of the following ideas:
- Understand chronological thinking such as the difference between past, present, and future.
- Toys, Clothing, Transportation from Colonial Days, Present, and Future
- Toys, Clothing, Transportation from Colonial Days, Present, and Future
- Tell a story about the different kinds of clothes people wear in the four seasons. Use four PowerPoint slides. Provide people with clothing and graphics associated with weather.
- Describe the seasonal changes on plants, animals, and people (i.e., hibernation, clothing, plant growth).
- Use three boxes for yesterday and today transportation and movement of goods.
- Tell stories using before/after, and now/then.
- One box showing the cause and another box showing the result.
Explore online lessons related to sequencing:
- Creating a Wall Story (K-4)
- Lean on Me - We Depend on Each Other (K-5)
- Assemby Lines (3-5)
- Tell a Migration Story... with Photos
- Collaborating on a Class Book: Exploring Before-During-After Sequences (K-2)
- Draw a Story: Stepping from Pictures to Writing (K-2)
- Integrating Language Arts Using If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (K-2)
- Teaching About Story Structure Using Fairy Tales (K-2)
- Beginning, Middle, End (PDF file) (K-2)
- Word Wizards: Students Making Words (K-2)
- Word Wizard Interactive (K-2)
- Sequencing: A Strategy to Succeed at Reading Comprehension (3-5)
- Unwinding A Circular Plot: Prediction Strategies in Reading and Writing (3-5)
There are a few online sources of timeline builders:
Use PowerPoint to help students build timelines. Provide students with photos. Ask them to place the photos in sequencial order. Then write about this sequence of events. Older students may want to use the Speakernotes.
Sequential Art and Thinking
Let's use picture books, sequential art, and comics as tools for teaching critical thinking skills related to sequencing across the curriculum. Sequencing is a common problem across the curriculum.
Use wordless books such as Full Moon Soup by Alastair Graham for inspiration. Use them to talk about what's happening in the pictures. Use the links below for lists of wordless books:
- Wordless Picture Books
- Wordless and Nearly Wordless Books from Allen County Public Library
- Wordless Picture Books from the Louisville Free Public Library
Use picture books that use a comic or graphic novel format for ideas such as the Little Lit series.
Explore online lessons related to comics in the classroom:
- ArtsEdge Lessons
- Edsitement Lessons
- Eduplace Comics
- Read Write Think Lessons
- Cartoon Focus -Charles Schulz, Mickey Mouse
- Create Your Own Comic (1-6)
- Buzz! Whiz! Bang! Using Comic Books to Teach Onomatopoeia (3-5)
- Comics in the Classroom (3-5)
- Comics in the Classroom as an Introduction to Narrative Structure (3-5)
- Book Report Alternative (3-5)
- To, Too, or Two: Developing an Understanding of Homophones (3-5)
- Book Report Alternative (6-8)
- Comic Makeovers: Examining Race, Class, Ethnicity, and Gender in Media (9-12)
- Teaching with Comics
Add boxes and bubbles to make a story come alive!