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Automatoon: Create HTML5 animations

What it is: Oh. My. Word.  I’m slowly but surely making my way through my Google Reader and stumbled on a post by @rmbyrne on his EXCELLENT blog Free Tech 4 Teachers about Automatoon.  I immediately started playing with Automatoon and cannot say enough about how COOL it is!  Automatoon makes it simple for students (or teachers) to create animations within a web browser.  My very favorite part? It was built-in HTML5!! Do you know what that means? It works on iDevices (like the iPad and iPod touch).  A non-flash animations site! Pure genius.  This is one of the easiest animation programs I have seen.  Students can draw characters in pieces (kind of like a puppet or paper doll) and then create points where the pieces connect.  The drawings can animate by moving, bending or adding pieces to the picture.  SO cool!  After watching the demo video, I think even young students could have Automatoon mastered in no time.  The tools built into Automatoon are pretty robust for what a simple program it is to use.  Your students will look like animation masters, bringing their creations to life.  When students are finished creating their animations, they can download them as a zip file to be uploaded to any site.  There are two ways to login, students can login with a “throwaway” login that will not save their animation (but will let them create and download a quick animation) or login with a Google account.  This is fantastic for schools that take advantage of Google apps for education! How to integrate Automatoon into the classroom: Kids of all ages love cartoons and animations, Automatoon gives them the tools to be the creator of those cartoon animations.  Students can create animations to animate processes in science (think the water cycle, plant life cycle, rock cycle, etc.), vocabulary words (in either native language or a second language), animate a piece of creative writing, animate a persuasive argument (think advertisement), animate a “book report”, animate solving a math problem, animate a story problem or animate an event in history.  The possibilities are really endless on this one, students will only be limited by their imaginations. Automatoon is easy enough to use that with a little pre-planning, students could create animations in 5-10 minutes.  This is handy for those situations where you have one or two computers in the classroom or a limited time in a computer lab.  After learning how to use Automatoon, students can quickly create animations to illustrate learning.  Automatoon is a FANTASTIC little tool for your visual learners…they will “get” it. Are your students having a hard time understanding a math or science concept or a vocabulary word?  Why not create an animation that illustrates the concept/word and share it on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer?  The animation can be saved on the classroom website so that students can go back and access it throughout the year. If you have a classroom website or wiki you could create a classroom animation collection.  Students can upload their creations to the class site for a great collection of learning.  It would be neat to animate sight words (Snapwords style), math or science vocabulary and create a visual “glossary” online that all of your students have contributed to.  Classes can add to it every year or you can work with other classes around the world to create a collaborative glossary.  This would also be a great tool to aid students in creating their own “e-textbooks” about any subject.  Students can create animations to embed in their other research, reflections and links. Way cool. Tips: Be sure to watch the intro video (above) to get a 5 minute low down on how to use Automatoon…very useful! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Automatoon in your classroom!

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Pixel Press Floors: draw a video game on paper, snap a picture and play it!

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, Geography, Government, History, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 18-06-2014

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What it is: Pixel Press Floors is a seriously magical (currently free) app that brings a child’s imagination to life. With the Pixel Press Floors creation platform, students can literally dream up and draw their own video game without any coding. Students draw their ideas out on paper, and the Floors app turns the drawing into an actual video game that can be played. Print out the special paper so that the app can recognize the shapes “glyphs” that are drawn, or use the in app drawing tools. The drawing is instantly turned into a game that can be tested, designed, played, and even published to the “Arcade” where others can play it.

How to integrate Pixel Press Floors into learning: The first step of creation is to download the Pixel Press Floors app on the iPad. Next, go to projectpixelpress.com to download and print the free sketch guide. Students draw up the game of their dreams and then take a picture of what they drew from the Pixel Press Floors app.

The glyphs (shapes) that students draw are magically transformed into game play objects. After glyphs have been created, students can apply a design to the element, test it, and play it. Within the app, students can create games with:

  • Run and jump game play (Mario-style)
  • Create with 14 creator glyphs: terrain, moving blocks, ladders, portals, monkey bars, power-ups, coins, super coins, falling blocks, spikes, exploding blocks, start and end positions, pits and fireballs, keys.
  • Two original themes to get the creativity jump-started: “Save the Parents” and “Fiddleheads: Stones of Eden”
  • Publishing and sharing in the Arcade

Pixel Press Floors is a fantastic “maker space” element to add to your classroom. This app is perfect for prototyping ideas, design thinking (ideation and prototyping), teamwork and collaboration, and to build creativity. In designing games, students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, art and aesthetics, writing and storytelling, and creates a motivation for further STEM exploration.

There is so much to learn from digital games.  As a player, students learn to think strategically, persist through failure and experience epic wins that can translate to what they do and are willing to try out in real life. As a designer students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, digital art and aesthetics, and storytelling and writing. Students love being able to bring their creations and ideas to life in the form of a game. Video game creation could be the key to unlocking the storytelling genius in your reluctant writers. It has been my experience that a student faced with a blank paper and a writing assignment can be daunting. Introduce the idea of designing their own game and suddenly a storyline pours forth. It is pretty neat to watch!

Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary!

Students can create games that help them build skills. Instead of simply playing those drill/skill games on other websites/apps, they can create their own! This is visual notes 3.0. Instead of simply practicing math facts, students can create a customized game to help them learn and remember those facts! This type of game is perfect for creating games to practice: math facts, spelling, vocabulary, foreign languages, letter recognition, geography, history facts, etc.

Instead of passively playing games in their free time, students can create their own! The blend of the hand-drawn and technology is seamless and brilliant. Kids will have such fun creating their own games and bringing their imagination to life.

Tips: Game Star Mechanic would be an outstanding place to start, here kids can learn the thinking process behind designing their own video games.

Are you using Pixel Press Floors in your classroom? Leave a comment below and share the ways that you use it with students!

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Comments (2)

Hi Kelly! I posted about this last week, and one of the most fascinating things I’ve seen shared is the use of the Comic Life app to make a graphic novel out of the game. http://goo.gl/ZhPQHK Great app-smashing and integration of technology with writing!

LOVE that idea Terri! That is fantastic!!

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