5 Ways for Students of All Ages to Make Animated Videos

Making animated videos is a great way for students to bring their written stories to life on screen. Those could be fiction or nonfiction stories. Some nonfiction animated video topics include making a video to illustrate a historical event, making biographies, and explaining complex concepts in simple animations like Common Craft does. In the fiction realm you might have students make an adaptation of a favorite story or an animation of their own creative writing. Whichever direction you choose, the following five tools offer good ways for students of all ages to make their own animated videos.

Toontastic 3D
Toontastic 3D is a great app for making animated videos that I have been using and promoting since its launch a few years ago. Toontastic 3D can be used on iPads, Android tablets and phones, and Chromebooks that support Android apps. Students can use Toontastic 3D without having to create or sign into any kind of account.

To make an animated video with Toontastic 3D students simply open the app, select a background scene or draw their own, select some characters or draw their own, and then record themselves talking while moving their characters around the screen. When students have completed their recordings they can add background music to their videos. Finished videos are saved directly to device on which the video was created.

Animaker is a service that students can use to create animated videos in the web browser on their Chromebooks, Windows computers, or Macs. Students create videos in Animaker on a slide-by-slide basis. Animaker provides lots of background settings that students can add to the slides that will form their videos. On each slide students add the pre-drawn characters that they want to have appear in their videos. Each character’s appearance and positioning can be edited in each slide. Once the backgrounds and characters have been positioned students can add audio to each their videos by selecting from a gallery of royalty-free audio, by uploading audio recordings, or by using the built-in voice-over tool in Animaker.

Brush Ninja + Screencastify
This is a method of making an animated video that I detailed back in October after using it with a great group of eighth grade students. This method calls for making animated GIFs with the free Brush Ninja drawing tool and then recording a series of GIFs with the Screencastify screencast video tool for Chromebooks. You can get detailed directions for combining Brush Ninja and Screencastify in this post.

Google Slides + Screencastify or Screencast-o-Matic
Google Slides, like PowerPoint and Keynote, provide users with lots of ways to animate elements within their slides. Use those animation tools to make clipart and simple drawings move on the screen. Then capture those movements with a screencasting tool like Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic. Of course, you’ll want to include a voiceover while recording. This method can be used to create animated videos like those made popular by Common Craft. You can read about and then watch this whole process in this Practical Ed Tech article.

Draw and Tell
Draw and Tell is a free iPad app that has been on list of recommendations for K-2 students for many years. In this free app students can draw on a blank pages or complete coloring page templates. After completing their drawings students then record a voiceover in which they either explain the drawings or tell a story about the characters in their drawings.


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