Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Children's Writing with Toon Books Comic Maker

Toon Books are easy to read comics that are an imprint of Candlewick Press. They have a cute comic maker where kids can create stories by using available art work.

First you choose one of nine different comics. I chose the one about Little Mouse. This took me to part of the Professor Garfield website which I told you about last week. It's also the same place where kids can read digital Toon Books, (mentioned in Online Resources for Reading and Writing.) There I opened my comic making screen.

The instructions are clear and the process is simple. You can select from four backgrounds, and some different poses of the characters, as well as props and speech bubbles. Text and other elements can be moved and the size changed, and objects flipped. The website lets you save your panel to your own computer as jpg or png file, or print it out. Some of the toons eg Benny and Penny have many more options for the character poses/emotions, allowing a greater range of story making.

Unfortunately, this comic maker doesn't encourage multiple panels. Kids must do each panel separately, then combine them some way. I popped mine, above,  into a two-panel template at Picnik. Obviously, the print option plus scissors and glue would work fine for a physical version. It might also be fun to print out some cartoons with blank speech bubbles for kids to fill in when you need a rainy day activity.

{However, the main Professor Garfield website does have a three panel strip, one linked to Toon Books. You need to log in, but there's no registering, a christian name will do, so you can save work. Once you've logged in, click on the first empty panel and options appear for adding to it. You can read more about it on the instruction page, and link from there. It has the same characters, but different backgrounds and options, and definitely three saveable panels- jpg or png, saved to your computer.}

All in all, The Toon Books Cartoon Maker is another great way to sneak a little learning into your kids' fun. It's screen time with a dash of literacy! I think making comics here will appeal to kids from 6-8 years. Check out the Benny and Penny blog while you're visiting. It hasn't seen activity for a while, but has some wonderful Benny and Penny stories for reading and inspiration.
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