Sunday, July 26, 2009

Comic Life - Software Review

Fiona Grant from the MOEs Software for Learning encouraged me to write a few reviews about software we use in early childhood education. There was little doubt in my mind about which piece of software to begin my reviews.

Comic Life has been an exciting addition to the curriculum at Manaia Kindergarten. This is a software package that appeals to teachers, children and parents alike. In addition it is equally usable on both Mac and PC (though marginally faster on a Mac!).

Although Comic Life is set up to provide tools for the creation of comic strips and pages, it is quite versatile for a variety of uses.

The teachers of Manaia Kindergarten use Comic Life to write children's Learning Stories. Stories about children's learning experiences had previously be written in MS Word. We found Comic Life provided a platform to easily mix pictures and text in creative formats.

Text boxes can be placed anywhere on the page. Text headings come in all shapes and sizes. You can choose from pre-determined styles or manipulate the shape, colour, or outline of headings. When using a Mac - Comic Life provides some text formatting options.

Picture boxes can easily sit next to text. Neither moves unless you click and drag them to the desired position. A small image library window remains open with your image thumbnails. It is easy to click and drag your images from the window into your picture box. They automatically resize to fit the window. It is also easy to crop images by clicking and dragging the boundaries of the picture or the box. Picture boxes come in a range of style shapes which can be manipulated individually along with the frame, if desired.

Speech bubbles are the cornerstone of Comic Life. At Manaia Kindergarten, we use speech bubbles to type children's words and correspond them with particular images. You can see an example of Speech Bubbles in use in a recent story about our trip to the Fire Station.

Blog your learning stories easily from Comic Life. Each page can be saved as an image (jpg) and uploaded onto a website or blog.

• Bling - pages can be beautifully coloured with preset backgrounds or manipulate easily to create your own. Check out some on Manaia Kindergarten blog

• Children - the Comic Life interface makes it easy for children to create their own pages and make their own choices about images, colour, heading styles etc. Children at Manaia Kindergarten see Comic Life as an opportunity to take charge of the mouse, click to make their choices, and have direct input into writing their own learning stories. Check out Sari's story about Poi meeting her friends at home.

Purchase Comic Life - its not expensive
Comic Life is a creation of Plasq. They have a variety of Comic Life options. We use the regular Comic Life option at Manaia Kindergarten. You may also be able to purchase a bulk license to cover a number of computers and computer platforms in your Early Childhood centre. Comic Life Download Link.

PS: I am not paid by the manufacturers of Comic Life for this review - though I probably should be lol!

Best Cybersafety Practices

Further to the discussion in May on ICT in ECE blog about Cybersafety Practices for Young Children - today I found a great video to illustrate some of my points.

Best Cybersafety Practices is a video produced for TVNZ for "in betweens". Inbetweens is a series of informative videos for pre-teens and teens. The series has children, talking to children, about issues that relate to their lives - and they are great. I would have liked to embed the video here - but alas that doesn't seem possible. So go over the In Betweens on TVNZs site, watch, enjoy and be informed. Read the discussion on Cybersafety Practices for Young Children. I would love to hear our comments or particitpate in discussion with you on this topic so don't for get to return to this post and leave your comments and discussions points. Enjoy.