Looking to inspire some creative writing fun with your students? The Comics Head app will delight your students and help chase away any writing blues. Comics Head is a colorful writing-focused app that has earned a five-star rating from the Educational App Store. This visual storytelling tool engages children and adults of all ages and makes creating comics a snap.
With a few taps on your iPad, you create fun settings, adding characters and speech bubbles for your dialogue. With a few more taps, you explore a variety of layout options, including some that can be the focus for beginning, middle, and ending story activities. You can select template comics and simply add or edit dialogue. You also have the ability to upload your own photos into the comics. Create one-page posters or multiframe storyboards and personal templates. How much fun is that?
I recently demonstrated the app at a technology workshop for a school district with their grade 3–5 teachers, literacy coaches, and principals. The app was a hit; my teacher candidates love it, too. Seeing everyone exploring and creating their own masterpieces is such fun. I wish I had something like Comics Head to help illustrate my stories growing up. Using an art tool like this sure would have helped me to feel like an expert illustrator. I suppose that is why I love their catchphrase, “Not an Artist? Not a Problem!” Integrating this user-friendly storytelling writing tool across the curriculum is limited only by your imagination. Create posters, alternate endings, new characters, character profiles, debates, and more.
There are two versions of the app: the free Comics Head Lite and Comics Head, a paid version for $4.99. This, of course, has more bells and whistles, or should I say superheroes and powers? The website supports a blog with instructional demo videos to help get you started. To begin creating comics, you simply click Create New Comic Image. You make a selection from the white canvas panel layouts. The template section has stories ready to use, or you can edit the dialogue text. With the paid version, there is a My Templates option that allows you to design custom templates. After selecting your storyboard, you then create backgrounds, characters, props, and photos. The paid version includes themes along with web and map access, where screenshots of Internet webpages and map locations can be integrated to enhance your comic designs. Audio can be recorded. The camera tool and paint tool provide customization options. Once finished with the storyboard, you can preview, save, and share to Facebook or Twitter or via e-mail with the Lite version. With the paid version, the storyboard can be posted to YouTube. Creating a slideshow is an another option. Both versions allow for printing.
In my opinion, the Lite version provides endless possibilities for free, but the paid version provides additional design and creative potential. Start Lite, explore Comics Head, and go from there. Get excited, get motivated, and create engaging comics that will add a flare to your creative writing lessons.
Mary Beth Scumaci is a clinical associate professor and technology coordinator with the Division of Education at Medaille College in Buffalo, NY. She designs and instructs technology and online courses in addition to facilitating technology trainings for students, faculty, and staff.
This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association’s Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).