2/3 Cartoons in Keynote

Throughout the past week, our students had the amazing opportunity to work with Emmy-award winning director and cartoonist Drew Schmidt, from the cartoon Danger and Eggs on Amazon. The students loved having the opportunity to hear from Drew, draw Phillip (one of the characters from the show) and then work on creating their own characters. 

The kids loved having the opportunity to create their own characters and it became such a fun project for our school! I especially enjoyed working with my three sections of 2/3 SOTA students on this project, as we took their paper designs to collaborative digital projects using Keynote. 

First, students learned how to draw using Keynote. We talked about the different tools, including the marker, fill tools, lasso, and more. Students also were reminded of the basics of Keynote, including creating a new project, renaming their files, starting a new drawing, exporting their files, and using AirDrop to share their work to my computer. The students enjoyed recreating their hand-drawn characters on their iPads, and found great success when using styluses on the project. I challenged students to limit the use of the undo button, reminding them that while undo is a great feature, they needed to have a finished cartoon by the end of the 45 minute class period (of which 15 minutes was taken up with demo!).

I was amazed at just how much the students were able to accomplish during this class period. They were committed to their work and, while they wanted it to be perfect, they accepted (and sometimes even embraced!) their imperfections. At the end of class, the students jumped in line, eagerly sharing their projects with each other while they waited for me to accept their AirDrops.

The next class period, students learned about backgrounds, and we talked about foreground, middle ground and background. We also talked about setting, and the students each decided on a landscape style that they would use for their cartoon. They ranged from outer space, to the desert, under water, in the forest, and more. Using their ideas, I created an on-the-fly demo with students, and taught them about copy and paste, and how they could use these in their projects. Students were amazed at how in just minutes, I took one single tree and turned it into an entire forest using copy and paste. We also talked about using flip and changing the size of the object to make it look more interesting and realistic, and less repetitive. Again, at the end of class, I had all of the students AirDrop their projects to me, and I put them all into one Keynote presentation. I shared this with the students at the end of class. 

The third day of this project we worked to create all new backgrounds, collaboratively using objects that other students had made. I reminded the students about copy and paste, and created an example using pieces of their work from day two. The students were thrilled (seriously….so excited!) that they got to take their favorite pieces of each other’s work and pull it together into a new background for their project. We talked about finding elements that made sense (like using trees and flowers in a forest, but maybe not in an underwater picture) and I talked to them about finding creative ways to use the pieces, like putting a little flower on a cactus. The kids were so quiet as they worked diligently on their projects, and again at the end of class we AirDropped the files so that everyone could see what was created. 

On the final day of the project, I AirDropped the students a Keynote file that included all of the backgrounds that they had created, as well as all of their characters from day one. I told the students that today they would finish the project by copying/pasting their cartoon characters onto the backgrounds that they created. When I shared this with students, they literally erupted “YESSSSS!” as they were so excited to put their characters into the backgrounds and make it come to life! They were even more excited when I told them that they were welcome to either duplicate their characters (one student created the cutest little family by copying, pasting and resizing!) or create a scene using their classmate’s characters with their own. 

In the end this was one of my favorite technology projects that I have done. I was able to push in so much content, from talking about how the design of a character gives us clues to its personality traits, to thinking about the layers of background, and elements including scale, balance, emphasis, color, shape and more. I was also able to teach them some powerful technology tools, such as creating a new document, adding a drawing, using drawing tools, copying and pasting, exporting and sharing, while doing a fun project that kept them totally engaged (I mean….learning about copying and pasting with cartoons is WAY more fun than the practicing with text!). The students also learned a valuable lesson about collaboration, and that when we work together our products can be even better! They also realized that it was much more efficient to work as a team, than to create everything on their own. 

So much content in a jam-packed lesson….This will definitely be a project that we repeat! :)