Seven great tools for making animations

Making animations is a great way for students to bring their written stories to life on screen. Depending on the story, the animation may be a short frame or two played for twenty seconds, or it may be a five minute story.

Making animations can also be a great way for students to explain and show their understanding of non-fiction things like historical events and people. Creating animations can also be done to explain complex concepts in simple animations, as Common Craft does.

Regardless of how you choose to use animations in your classroom, the following seven tools offer great ways for students of all ages to create their own animated videos.

Draw and tell
Draw and Tell is a free iPad app that has been on the list of recommendations for K-2 students for many years. In this free app, students can draw on blank pages or complete templates for coloring. After completing their drawings, students record a voiceover in which they either explain the drawings or tell a story about the characters in their drawings.

Brush ninja
For almost five years now I have been using Brush Ninja to make 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 does not require registration.

Wick Editor
Brush Ninja is still a great tool for creating animations, but if you want to add sound effects to your animations, you might want to take a look at using Wick Editor instead. One of the things I like about it is that you can add sound effects to your animations. In addition, you also have the option to download your animations as GIF or MP4 files. In this short video, I demonstrate how to use Wick Editor to make an animation.

ChatterPix children
ChatterPix Kids is one of my favorite digital storytelling apps for elementary school students. ChatterPix Kids is a free app that students can use to create talking pictures. To use the app, students simply open it on their iPads or Android devices and then take a picture. Once they have taken a picture, the students draw a mouth on their pictures. With their mouths in place, students record themselves while speaking for up to thirty seconds. The recording is then added to the image and saved as video on students’ iPads or Android devices. Watch my tutorial videos below to learn how to use ChatterPix Kids on Android devices and iPads.

Slides + Screencasting
Google Slides, like PowerPoint and Keynote, provide users with plenty of ways to animate elements of their slides. Use these animation tools to get clipart and simple drawings moving on the screen. Then capture these movements with a screencasting tool like Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic. Of course, you need to include a voiceover while recording. This method can be used to create animated videos like the ones that have become popular by Common Craft. You can read about and then see this whole process in this handy Ed Tech article.

Canva has lots of animation options that you can add to just about any graphic you create in it. You can animate text, make objects rotate and move, and even add sound to play in the background when creating a graphic in Canva. Your finished designs can be downloaded as animated GIFs and as MP4 files. This is actually how I make the videos for my Practical Ed Tech Instagram account. In addition, Canvas’ new video editor can be used to create animated videos. It is a process that I demonstrate in this video.

Good old PowerPoint has many small features that people overlook or do not even associate with PowerPoint. For example, did you know that PowerPoint has a built-in image background remover? Or that you can create animated GIFs in PowerPoint? You can do both of these things with PowerPoint. Mike Tholfsen has a great video on how to make an animated GIF in PowerPoint.

And here is my video on removing image wallpapers in PowerPoint.

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