ICT related news and ideas

Posts tagged ‘cartoons’

Cartoons (last word?)

Let’s put this topic to rest for the moment by highlighting two other useful sites that let you or your pupils create their own cartoon strips – Toondoo and GoAnimate!. There are lots of other such sites on the web, such as Toonlet and Bitstrips – the latter has the appealing trick of allowing you to create a  customised cartoon persona that you can make look quite like yourself, if you fancy that – but I’ve had a go at the aforementioned myself and had pupils try them out with a fair degree of success, so I think they are worth looking at.

Toondoo does what most such sites do, ie allows you to put together a cartoon made of a number of frames using backgrounds, characters and items chosen from pre-populated libraries. These are very rich, so you won’t quickly run out of possibilities! Perhaps because of this, the site can be a bit slow, which is the only real drawback. A big plus, however, is the fact that you can save your finished creations as image files and so use them other than as links to the Toondoo site. As in the (fairly mediocre) example above, which is also online at the site. I had some pupils use it last year as a homework, which they seemed to enjoy.

But the best and most fun site has to be GoAnimate! which lets you create not just cartoon strips, but animated cartoon strips! It basically has a library of little Flash animations that you apply to your characters to make them move, gesture and show emotions. There was originally a problem in that the site did not support accented characters: I contacted them, along with some other MFL teachers, and I have just discovered that they have happily done something about this. So frkeys and numeric keyboard shortcuts for accents now work in the text boxes. The picture above is a frame from my original trial effort which can be seen in its full glory (or otherwise) here. It really did take only a very short time to put together – it’s that simple, as they say. I have some music at the end of the clip, but haven’t otherwise used audio. You can, however, record on to the strip, so you could, for example, voice your characters. It would make a lovely project for an assistant to do with pupils! My only hassle with this site has been that when you opt to view in full screen mode, it seems to freeze. A pity, as it looks great full screen.

And, just for luck, one more site, that was flagged up to me by the creator via a comment when this post was first published, and that’s Pixton. The above cartoon is a quick trial run, which proved that the site does accept accented characters ok. The attractive feature of Pixton is that you can move characters’ limbs around by dragging them, so changing posture and gesture, as well as modifying their expression. It also boasts a translation feature, via a mouse-over, which – like most machine translations – can turn out a bit bizarre. Check it out here.

So that’s it for cartoons – for now, at any rate ….. I think they have much potential for presenting material, but probably more importantly for having pupils reinforce and display their learning in a creative way.


More Cartoons

Related to the last post, I thought I’d add one about the potential of Sketchcast. I know I discussed this a while back with some of you in the faculty, but it’s worth giving it a wider audience. This web-based application lets you draw a freehand picture of whatever you like, with lines available in a range of colours. It records your drawing, which – when saved – then plays back in the order you drew it. Tremendous fun. But what use is it to language teaching?

Well, my thought was it can be a supplement to what we teachers often do on the whiteboard when we go into Rolf Harris can-you-see-what-it-is-yet mode and sketch something on the board, hoping the kids will produce the appropriate response in the target language. We will never stop doing that – it’s too much fun for all concerned – but the advantage of this version is that your artistry can be preserved for future generations, or at least lessons, and can be linked to your Moodle site for use outside the lesson.

For example try this one – the question is Wie ist das Wetter? Or indeed, Quel temps fait-il? or ?Cuál es el tiempo? (sorry, Hispanists, if that’s not right!). Or maybe this one.

You can immediately spot the problem here. You need to possess some drawing ability. I clearly don’t. Still, my Second Year Germanists derived much glee from my shortcomings in this skill area, and I just had to comfort myself with the perhaps misplaced belief that they had benefited from the language practice.

You can draw using a mouse or plug in a graphics pad via a usb port. I did the latter, believe it or not! I asked one my Lower Sixth, who is an artist, to recreate the sketches for me, but he has never got round to it. However, I suspect that it the way forward for us of lesser talent – you have the idea, then get someone competent to do the drawing.

Do try it. It will make you, and your pupils, laugh. And, you never know, they might learn something too.


Strip Generator

Just thought it might be worthwhile flagging up the potential usefulness of Strip Generator, a web-based tool for creating simple cartoon strips. I came across it some time ago but wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. As the cartoon strip generally depends on an exchange of conversation, it would seem to be ideal for creating an exemplar template for simple exchanges such as this one for beginners’ German greetings.


It looks better full-size, honest! Anyway, they are very simple to create and you can include a lot more in the way of visuals than I have in this one. My thought is that you could provide an example conversation, then perhaps have the pupils create their own versions as a class or homework task.

The site is called Strip Generator and it allows you either to create a one-off cartoon strip or set up your own strip blog and so save all the strips you create. I have a few German ones saved so far on a kesmfl strip blog. Here’s another one from it.

Wohin bist du gefahren

This particular one I have linked into my Moodle 2nd year German site. To do this you need to get your strip off the site and ito a jpg format.The best way I have found to do this is by using Gadwin Print Screen, a little programme that you can easily down load from the Gadwin site. You want the freeware version, not the Professional one. Once you have this on your PC or laptop, when you have your strip up on screen, you press the PrintScreen button and you can save an image of what is on your computer screen.

Then you open up that image and edit it in Windows Picture Manager. Choose Edit Pictures and crop it so you just have the cartoon strip itself then re-save it. You can compress the file as well, if you want. Now you have an image file of your cartoon strip which you can upload to your Moodle site in the usual way.

I think there’s some mileage in this simple little application. I’d be interested to know what others think.