Teacher Lee Briggs on technology in today's classroom. Brought to you by Weekly Reader.

My students and I were reading a selection of the book Lunch Money by Andrew Clements, when the comment came up if we could make our own comic books like the boy in the story had. Just like in the book, making comics seemed like a very easy idea, but quickly became very complicated. As a comic book nut myself I know that a lot of work goes into the art, writing and details of a comic before it goes to print and before the books are made, so I had reservations about making them. But using basic desktop publishing software you can have everyone churning out the funny pages.

First, ask yourself how hard you or your kids want to work on this task. As a lesson plan, it works great for teaching the sequence of events in a story, but depending on the quality you want it can chew up a lot of time.

The first method is the simplest. In Microsoft Word or the page layout/word processing program of choice, draw three or four boxes to make a panel. Then right-click and “send to back” so that they are out of the way. You also may want to make them “in front of text” or “behind text” — for some reason Word always seems to want to put my images in line with the text. Then drop in clip art cartoon characters and speech bubbles. Using functions like “rotate” and “flip” will allow you to have the characters looking at different things.

Method two is the same as method one, the only difference is that instead of clip art, you drop in photos that you took with a digital camera. The kids love to dress up as heroes and villains. As for costumes, an old bed sheet and some tin foil go a long way.

The third method involves using a program such as Microsoft Paint. This is by far the most time-consuming method, but gives the best results. Open your digital picture into a painting program or use the drawing tools that come with many of the page layout tools. I like to use my SmartBoard because I can zoom right in and get those fine lines. Then using the paintbrush, trace over the action. When you have added all the lines you want, select the original image and delete it. What you are left with is a great hand-drawn image, traced from your photo. Then just drop the images into Word or Publisher and add speech bubbles.

Comic made with a paint program.

Comic made with a paint program.


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