Sunday, 21 April 2013

Making a Photo Story

Creating a photo story or photo comic is a great activity for young kids. It gets them using a camera purposefully and thinking about the shots they want to take and it gets them using basic photo and document editing software. It's also good for encouraging writing, and it gets them away from the computer for a while as they set up their story.

I did this activity with my 6 year old, but it would work well with kids right up to teenagers - they can just get more creative with the special effects and the writing. Younger kids would enjoy it as a shared activity where the adult does more of the work. My son was able to do most of it himself with me making suggestions and doing some things for the first time to show him.

Having your child come up with a story using their favorite toys works well. My six year old loves to make LEGO scenes and take pictures of them. One day he was telling me the story behind one of his creations so I suggested he make a photo story. He was using some Pharaoh's Quest LEGO and some of the very cool LEGO Adventurers pieces that we got used on eBay (that's what happens when you let your kids watch old LEGO review videos on YouTube, they discover discontinued LEGO themes) along with Ninjago and other bits.

He was very clear on the scenes he needed to set up and the text that would go with them. I didn't have any input into that at all.

He used his VTech InnoTab 2 to take the pictures. It doesn't have a very good camera, but he likes using it and he didn't have a decent camera to hand. (He does have access to our old digital camera, but couldn't find it quickly enough. The InnoTab is bigger and harder to lose ...) Obviously a better camera will give better results.

Once he had the pictures I helped him transfer them to the PC. Then he used
Microsoft Paint to rotate and crop the photos and save the versions he wanted to use.

We could have added some special effects, but he was keen to assemble the story. We can always do more next time now he has mastered the basics.

Next I created a Google Docs (now Drive) document. He was able to upload and insert the images. I showed him how to center them.

Then he added captions and played with font sizes, styles and colors until he was happy with the result. (We need to work on use of capital letters ...)

Finally, we printed out the completed photo story as a 'book' which he was very pleased with!

He's now planning a series for publication :-)

Maybe we will turn it into an ePub book at some point so he can read it on a tablet. That's a great follow-on activity.

See. Using lots of technology doesn't have to inhibit kids' imagination. It can be a great way for them to express their creativity.

There are apps that you can use to create comic books with special effects and also online sites where you can create photo books. But in this case I wanted to get my son using some basic image and text editing tools.

You can also start to think about how to light a shot and the best angle to take a photo from.

And of course, this is the first step towards creating stop-motion LEGO animation videos. We'll definitely have a go at that in the future.

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