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Creative Production | Feature

3 Free Ways to Add Animation to Your Classroom

As we approach the end of the school year, new tech tools are a great way to keep educators and students interested. And what’s more engaging than animation? One animation website I love to use is GoAnimate. While the site offers options to purchase different plans, there is a free version that gives students a selection of characters and backgrounds that they can use to create an animated video.

Some ideas for lesson plans include having students recreate a historical event with modern-day characters, creating a political debate or using the characters to create a public service announcement. To get an idea of how easy GoAnimate is to use, check out the video above, then try it for yourself and create a video message to your students. Guaranteed fun!

When you talk about animation, most people think of cartoon-style movements. But you can also make animations using gifs (short for graphics interchange files). A gif is a lossless, small-size file, which is made with a compression method that uses math algorithms to recreate an image without eliminating parts of the image. In Earth terms, that means it’s a small file with good quality.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, Babarosa gif animator is a free option for creating animations from individual images. Have you ever seen someone draw a stick figure on the edge of each page of a book and then flips the pages so it looks like the figure is moving? That’s the idea. You can have students draw images, save them to upload to Babarosa and then play the animation.

Another great tool for animation is called Pencil. It is a free and open source option with a level of support that is not always available when you use free software. Students can draw using tools that are similar to those found in high-end software. Pencil can help students gain an understanding of graphic design basics. Don’t be afraid dive in with your students and learn as you go. My students loved trying out the options and “teaching” me how to use them. Of course, it does help if the teacher is a few steps ahead of them.

About the Author

Ellen Zimmerman is a faculty member at Western Governors University, where she mentors students in the College of Information Technology. Her master's degree is in Educational Technology Leadership, and she has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. Currently, she is a doctoral student at the University of North Texas with a focus on learning cognition and curriculum.

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