Creating an avatar is one of those activities that I always include as part of my sessions on internet safety. The fact that pupils find this a lot of fun is a bonus and if it helps them realise how important it is in the quest keep yourself safe online then that’s all well and good. A few years ago these sessions seemed to concentrate on using photo editing software to manipulate and alter a photo of yourself so that it was in some way distorted or funky looking, often using freely available software like Irfanview on online editors like Tuxpi but as more and more ‘avatar creator’ sites pop us it seems a shame not to use them – so use them we will.
With younger children I like to show them a few cool things they can use to make cartoon-like or fun versions of themselves. This might not immediately be linked with internet safety but it’s handy that when we come to talk about creating an avatar many recall these sites as possible options. Be Your Wild Self is a site I keep coming back to (once you’ve tried it I’m sure you will too): use it when looking at habitats and animal classifications or when creating fantasy creatures for literacy – so much fun and great for generating discussion.You could, alternatively, tie your face creating into a maths activity and create faces made of simple Autoshapes as shown here , after all, it’s always useful to have a few topics linked together and this is the perfect opportunity! For even younger pupils you might like to check out the Me Maker from Kent ICT Games. Like many of the activities offered via this website, the Me Maker will run online but is also available as a download and is a great introduction tool for an ‘Ourselves’ topic. Although both the above mentioned activities only allow you to print out your creations you could always use this as an opportunity to show pupils how to use the Print screen key or use a free tool like Gadwin Print Screen to capture the finished image.
I have to say that, for a long time, one of the most popular avatar creators with KS2 pupils was the now unavailable site Simpsonize Me. I’m happy to report that you can still make yourself look like a member of the simpsons cast quite easily online by using the avatar creator included on the Simpson’s Movie Site. There are a number of other television programmes and movies that occasionally post such activities. I used to enjoy using the Wallace and Gromit avatar creator but this is another that is currently unavailable. But if you are a lover of all things clay I suggest you try Clay Yourself! which is just as much fun. If you would prefer to look a little more heroic in your finished creation why not try Hero Machine? I could see this site not only being useful as an avatar creator but additionally as a way of creating characters to inspire writing or discussion. Worth a look.
Finally, no selection of avatar creators without looking at some that reflect the avatars many pupils create to use on gaming consoles at home. My Avatar Editor and the Mii Avatar Creator both tap into this have proven popular with the pupils in my school, especially those at the upper end of KS2. Another site that the pupils seem to go back to is Reasonably Clever (Lego style characters)which they also used to create characters for storyboards and animation. The site contains a kid friendly version (not a funky looking but it doesn’t include things like cigarettes or guns) and a Blockhead version, just for faces. Even the Autoshapes idea can be extended into this age group: just use combinations of shapes to create cartoon style faces.
In closing, I’m pretty sure that this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as finding web tools for creating faces goes. There a number of others I can think of that cannot be accessed in my school setting due to some of the social aspects of the site the rest in or the unsuitability of some included items. I’m sure this would be true of most schools and educational settings so I’ve chosen to concentrate on those I know can be accessed, albeit in my location. If you know of any really good ones I have missed out though I’d be really interested to hear about them