ToonDoo is the first place I went to explore. This site makes it fairly easy to add objects and speech bubbles. The objects are easy to manipulate and move. There was a good amount of characters and objects to choose from, some of them were a little crazy though, so it was hard to choose which character or object might be best. When I was finished, I didn't see an option to download the comic. It simply saves the comic to your gallery or you can print it out. I saved it and then took a screen shot of it so I could have a digital copy. ToonDoo is pretty straight forward, so I think kids would be able to very easily use it on their own.
I created a quick example as an introduction for my students on the first day of school. I thought they could do the same to introduce themselves to the class as well.
Another great site that I tested was Pixton. This site has a unique option that allows you to register as an educator and create lesson assignments with example comics for your students. There are also many pre-made lesson ideas and examples that you can choose from to use in your own class. If you create a lesson of your own, you can choose to share it with others as well. With this registration, you can also add your students and then assign these activities for them to complete. This registration is a monthly registration that is $8.99 and allows you to register up to 200 students. Your school can also register for an account as well. (I signed up for the free trial teacher account.)
Creating the comics was pretty straight forward. They give you the option of creating one as a beginner or more advanced. I chose beginner. It was very quick and easy to get started. They have prepared settings and characters. You can choose the positions and type of body you want for your characters. You can move the speech bubbles and type in them very easily. It also allows you to add more panels to your comics. It was very quick and easy to use! There are many options when you are ready to publish your comic. This site allows you to tweet, embed, email, or download and save your comic! I thought that was awesome!
I created this quick example to use when discussing character traits. I plan to have the kids create their own comics demonstrating different character traits. We can then share our comics and discuss which traits they are trying to portray.
Another free site is MakebeliefsComix. You don't have to register for this site. You can just get on and get started right away, which makes it nice to use in the classroom. You don't have to worry about getting a username and password out to the students. The site itself is a little busy with lots of writing everywhere and adds on the side, so using it with younger students might be frustrating. Also, I found the tools for creating the comic were not very user friendly. They were kind of confusing at first and didn't make it easy to maneuver the objects and speech bubbles. To publish the comics, you can print, email it to yourself, or even download it and save it. That's a great thing!
I made a quick example to use as a book review. I thought I might have students use comics to create book reviews. I want to print them out and hang them up next to a picture of the book cover. I can't wait to try that out! I think kids will love this!
Out of all the comic sites I reviewed, I really liked Pixton the best. It was easy to use and has so many options for downloading and sharing. There are so many great lesson ideas as well.
As I was researching comics, I came across so many great ideas of how to incorporate them into the classroom. Here's a list of my favorites!
1. Autobiography: On the first day of school, students can introduce themselves in a comic!
2. Vocabulary Practice: Use new vocabulary words in sentences in the comic.
3. Social Skills/ Rules: The first week of school students can create a comic that explains the rules for the classroom/school.
4. Conflict/Resolution Situations: This can also be done the first week of school!
5. Reflection Tool: I LOVE this idea! Students can create a comic that describes something new that we learned, or how they felt about something. This can be the new "exit ticket!"
6. Book Reviews
7. Instruction Manuals
8. Interview: Another great idea for the first week of school. Students can interview a classmate to introduce them and create a comic about it. They could also interview staff members!
9. Write a Sequel/New Ending: I was thinking this would be great when studying fairytales!
10. Empty Comics: The teacher creates a comic with characters and settings, but leaves the speech bubbles empty. Students have to make inferences to fill in the speech bubbles!
There are SO many great ideas out there. I know students will love ALL of them. If you are looking for some more ideas, you should check out this article. There is a lot of great information about other comic tools as well as other ideas about how to use them in the classroom.
26 Ways to use Comics in the Classroom and 5 Free Tools for Creating Comics
Another great option is to use the Tellagami app. My students love this app! We use it a lot throughout the year from interviewing and introducing our friends on the first day of school, to creating a final research project. It's so easy to use and so much fun. Here's my example of how you can use it for a book review!