Few schoolchildren do not love the films made by Pixar Animation Studios. (Most adults love them, too.) So why not embrace this passion by getting pupils to create their own online animations about what they are learning in your class or subject?
Two great animation tools are completely free to use - all the children need is access to the internet and some creative ideas. They are DoInk (www.doink.com) and Dvolver Moviemaker (www.dvolver.commoviemaker).
DoInk is an online animation creator where you can open a free class account or children can set up their own individual accounts. They can draw, add text and then animate their own work. It looks very similar to Microsoft's Paint software. After 15 minutes or so, most children have made their own animation that can be shown to the rest of the class, emailed to their teachers or parents or embedded on their social networking profile.
This animation about enzymes is a first attempt by some of my pupils: bit.lyHfn2g6. They told me that they found it a great way to learn as they were able to conceptualise enzyme theory through the animation. But this format can be used to create an animation on any subject for any age.
Dvolver is a simple tool that enables children to create their own animated cartoons by selecting from a range of characters, backgrounds and scenarios, then adding their own text bubbles and a music backing track. The animations can be emailed or embedded into blogs or websites for others to enjoy. The great thing about Dvolver is that you do not need to set up your own account; you can just click on the website and start creating instantly. I have used this with children in Years 4-13, all of whom seem to love it.
To get an idea of how quickly children can produce content with Dvolver, check out what pupils produced in 10 minutes in a science lesson on fuels: bit.lyHLnRfa.
DoInk and Dvolver can challenge the more able as well as supporting those who are less capable. They are also excellent for pupils who have special educational needs. They allow children to express their ideas in a creative and interactive way, and to share those creative efforts.
Dan Roberts was deputy headteacher of Saltash.net Community School in Cornwall and is now a senior education consultant. Follow him on Twitter @chickensaltash or read his blog at whydidthechickencrosstheroad.org.uk
Help pupils to plan their own animations with Nicki Maddams' project resources.
Try AMEit's step-by-step guide to DoInk software.
In the forums
Which animation software would you recommend? Find out what other teachers use in the TES ICT forum.