Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kids creating their own comics

We just had an amazing visit from Jennifer Holm, the wonderful author of the Babymouse series. Our students were completely jazzed and excited. So many had read Babymouse - 2nd graders have loved getting into this series, and 5th graders devour it like candy! Kids love comics, and I'd like to tap into that to spur their own creativity. I've just started exploring ways for kids to create their own comics, and I wanted to share with you. Do you have ways that your kids have had fun creating comics online? Please share and tell others about what's worked and what hasn't.

ToonDoo is an online site that helps kids create your own comics. From my initial explorations, this seems to be a great site to share with kids.
a cartoon maker
created by Jambav
Pleasanton, CA
launched in 2007
ToonDoo has a large set of different characters, and the art style will appeal to tweens. Using the different options will take practice and time to explore, so I want the art style to appeal to 4th - 7th graders. You can use their set characters, or create your own characters. When I was creating my own character, two boys walked in and immediately said, "Cool! How do you do that?" This is a site that will encourage kids' creativity, getting them to explore creating stories in words and pictures. Even more than a big range of characters, ToonDoo has so many extra tools, like TraitR, DoodlR, ImagineR and the Book Maker, that gives this site a real depth that the other cartoon creator sites I explored did not have. You can import your own pictures or draw your own doodles.

Here's my first attempt at a comic strip. I'm sure my students and own children will come up with much funnier stories. 
Yes, clearly I need to work on the story idea. But it was a fun creative thing to do. It also gave me great appreciation for the work of cartoonists and graphic novelists like Jennifer Holm and Raina Telgemeier!

ToonDoo also has a social side that may appeal to some kids. When you create a comic strip, you set the privacy controls you want. I would encourage sitting with your child to understand the different privacy controls. Some kids will enjoy the social aspects of this site, sharing their comics, entering contests. ToonDoo does work to make the site safe for kids, with editors reviewing reported cartoons for inappropriate material.

ToonDoo makes this platform available to the public for free, but also offers teachers ToonDoo Spaces, a fee-based service which has more security and supervision available. ToonDoo is a for-profit site, and sells print-ready jpegs of books and cartoons created on the site.

For other reviews of ToonDoo from writers with an educational perspective, check out The Book Chook and Teachers and Computers. They both provide an in-depth look at using ToonDoo with children. There is also an excellent explanation of how to use ToonDoo at SlideShare.

The iPad app Toontastic, developed by the Stanford's Graduate School of Education and Zeum, a children's technology and art museum in San Francisco, allows children to create their own comics on the iPad. It's a fun, portable way for kids to explore the same ideas, but is more limited in scope.

Have fun and let us know if you have found other sites that encourage your children to write their own stories.

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Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.

1 comment:

  1. I really like Kerpoof, Creaza's Cartoonist and MakeBeliefsComix too. If you want more, check out Janet Bianchini's ScoopIt cartoon page: http://www.scoop.it/t/comics-and-cartoons Anything that has kids creating has my vote!