Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘photo editing’

The End is in Sight…

I feel a bit guilty this week. Our school broke up last Thursday but lots of you are still busy in the classroom. I’m sure it all evens out in the big scheme of things but I thought I’d share an end of the year activity with you that might be a nice way for any school leavers to take away memories of their class and friends. Best of all it uses free stuff.

The above image was made using Microsoft AutoCollage and it’s a great program for merging photos together in a pleasant and artistic way. I’ve mentioned it before and I’ve used it for a few different things in the classroom. The good thing about this is that it’s free if you’re a member of Partners in Learning  – and it’s not the only free download they’re offering! I think it would work well, with individual pictures of members of a class (plus teachers or support staff), as a take home memento. If you don’t like the images merged together you could do a similar thing with Shape collage, although it’s worth looking for an older version as the new one leaves quite a visible watermark. shape collage allows you control over the shape , background colour and spacing of the pictures but the full version is not free. It is, nonetheless, worth seeking out in its older format.

The picture above was made using a free download called Andrea Mosaic. I think it is a great little freebie. Collect a group of images together ( in this case family images but for class purposes it could be individual portrait pics), choose the photo you want to mosaic and away you go. The website has loads of examples to view and inspire you and there’s more information on it here. I did this with a group of Year 6 leavers a while ago and parents were coming in and asking to have them laminated – they were that nice! So there you have it – fun stuff that’s also free! You can’t fault it.



Easy backgrounds for everyone

As everyone seemed to enjoy the Autoshapes clip art tutorial yesterday I’ve created another one. This one shows how to create simple background images (using just shapes, fill effects and grouping) that could be used in a number of different programs. As with yesterday you could use PowerPoint to create a similar effect if you preferred . You don’t have to save the grouped item as a .PNG file with this one (but it’s okay if you do).

Fantastic Journeys

Every child loves having the opportunity to create fantasy stories set in imaginary places but it can sometimes  be difficult to inspire pupils and get their creative juices flowing. It’s much easier if they can visualise a setting for their story and some pupils might need a little extra support to do this. So here’s an idea to get them enthused; and it costs nothing and is lots of fun too. It just involves a bit of fun photo editing.

We all know that visual images can be used to stimulate the senses and get pupils writing creatively so this project involves them creating some of their own. Now you could get your pupils to search on the internet for suitable landscape images, or use a site like Deviant art (not a site for children to access but very useful nonetheless)to find them a suitable selection to adapt, but the pictures created here used a set of clip art images I had prepared and created (you can download a few samples, if you want to use them, here). Of course you could extend the activity by getting the pupils to design their own landscape using a suitable art package first (like the ones listed here and here) before they manipulated it using a photo editing package – that’s up to you. It’s just the effect we’re after here: allowing the pupils to customise their image to transform it into something special.

The choice of photo editing software is totally up to you but there are some great online tools out there, many of which I’ve mentioned before, that are great for the job and easy to use. Tuxpi has a number of different photo effects available (although not all would be suitable for this activity). I especially like the way the heat map effect transforms the space scene above and makes it look truly ‘other worldly’. I’m also a big fan of Pixlr, which was used to create the unusual lighthouse image (utilising the water swirl filter followed by the color lookup effect). It also has a fabulous kaleidoscope filter which can look tremendous on some backgrounds – try it and see!

Of course the images don’t have to be a riot of colour (although that’s what I appear to be showcasing here): simple filters that tweak the backgrounds slightly (such as altering the pictures hue and saturation levels) can be just as effective. Different editing suites have slightly different settings and it’s worth investigating a few yourself to see which you prefer. I like to give the pupils a choice so I’ve looked at a number of them including FotoFlexer, MyImager and Picnik (to name just a few). Choice is key and different layouts might suit different pupils in addition to which the pupils may already know of something else that they use at home – and I’m all in favour of finding out something from the pupils.

I’m not saying you have to use online tools though. If you’ve got suitable software installed just go ahead and use that! With younger pupils, and those who need additional support, I like to use Photo Simple as the interface really lends itself for use with that group of pupils and it has two settings (simple and advanced) that you can ‘match up’ the pupil’s abilities. Downloadable items like Fotosketcher and Irfanview could also be used for an activity like this: both are free and have different things to offer so they’re definitely worth exploring.

Finally, I’d like to emphasise that this activity, while providing a useful link to ICT in the classroom and being a lot of fun, is really a way to get pupils engaged in their creative story writing. Once they’ve created the settings pupils could print them out and brainstorm suitable vocabulary (using post it notes), or do the same thing online by importing the picture into Linoit or Dabbleboard and doing it that way. You could even extend the activity into character creation to go with the fantasy backgrounds. How about displaying the finished images onto your IWB and giving the pupils sentence starters? Or using them as a starting point to work on similes? Take it wherever you need it to go – I’m sure the children will love it!

The Great Outdoors

Linking ICT with the Outdoor Curriculum can often be a head scratching experience. They’re not a combination that, at first glance, appear to fit together. And yet there is more and more focus in our school lives on being outside (and not just for excursions or PE!!). So what can you do? Is there an easy answer? Well, new opportunities for linking ICT and the Outdoor Curriculum and there is much to be discovered and explored. Here are a few suggestions for younger pupils!

  • Bring your BeeBots outside: Now this might not seem to be an obvious choice (after all – BeeBots need a smooth surface to run best) but it’s not too difficult to set up. you could develop an outdoor BeeBot area with a track and a clearly marked out area, but any large table will do – just make sure it’s on a level surface. Perhaps children could make obstacles for the BeeBot to travel around (extra DT is always good fun) or you could provide them with card, precut to 15cm x 15cm, to design their own track. You know everything is twice as much fun in the sunshine 🙂
  • Get some walkie talkies: There are so many uses for walkie talkies in the outdoor area. As a starting point they’re great for role play – maybe you’ve got a vet or hospital topic going on? What better way to link in a little ICT than to have a paramedic or a vet radioing back to base with details of injuries or requests of assistance? They’re also good on a trip to your Forest School area, local beach or any other outdoor excursion, as pupils can use them to chat to each other compare information between groups.
  • Get detecting: If you’ve got a large outdoor sand play area, or you’re out on a trip to the beach, a metal detector is a lovely addition to your equipment. Maybe you could use it to check different materials (metal/non metal) or actually hide some treasure for the children to find (nice if you’ve got a pirate topic going on) – I’m sure you can think of more suggestions.
  • Talk about stuff: Got some Easi-Speak microphones? Then take them outside and let the children record what they’re doing so they can share it with others back in class. Slightly older pupils could record information while on excursions and use the recordings as a basis for their writing afterwards. What about using a digital recorder to help you remember the sounds you heard? Then use the recording to get an atmosphere of the excursion back in class.
  • Give them a camera: Digital cameras are great in the outdoors 🙂 Younger pupils use could use cameras like these and then use Photo Simple, on the basic setting, to edit them back in class. You’ve then got a perfect opportunity to use PhotoStory 3 (or whatever else you might choose) to make little movies from your images. Alternatively get hold of a Flip Video camera and use it to record pupils’ activities for playback later. You could even get the children to record their own adventures!
  • Plan an audio trail: Leave clues for the children using recordable speech bubbles or talking points in addition to some written or visual clues. A bit like a treasure hunt but with added sound!
  • Make some music: Remember Tom Hanks on the big floor piano in Big? Why not recreate it with a roll up keyboard? A bit of music in the outdoors is always enjoyable – for you and the children.

Hopefully you’ll find something in this little list that you haven’t tried before and be tempted to give it a go. Although some activities will work better with a little adult supervision there’s plenty of opportunity for a little independent learning. There’s also great scope for including pupils with SEN and getting them as involved as everyone else – so go out and explore the possibilities.

Picture This

About a week ago I mentioned a digital art project :trying out different ideas using computer generated art and photo editing packages.  There are all sorts of programs available t try out and everyone can create something something different or unusual. Digital art offers a range of different ideas, some of which are more inclusive than others, but it’s truly a ‘something for everyone’ area of ICT.

One technique to look at is tracing over photo images: a lot of clip art is created this way and I’ve already highlighted this method for making textured images in PowerPoint. You could use 2Paint a Picture or Revelation Natural Art (plus any number of other things) to paint over the photo images (the picture above was created this way using 2Paint a Picture). The results can be variable but  the impressionist setting on 2Paint a Picture and the watercolour setting on Revelation Natural Art give the most realistic results.

If creating art is not your thing then try making photo collages using Shape Collage, Microsoft AutoCollage or Andrea Mosaic. Microsoft AutoCollage definitely has a big ‘wow factor’ but Shape Collage does offer more control over their finished collage as it allowed them to choose a background colour, border colour, shape and overlap. Andrea Mosaic is a different sort of thing entirely and some might think it needs too much effort as you need a large selection of images to get a good result. The resulting creations have a big impact though.

There’s also plenty of opportunity to use photo editing packages ( online application FotoFlexer is a favourite)Why not collect all the images together and place them in a PowerPoint Notebook template. These look like sketch books used in many art sessions and these are a close approximation of the same thing in a digital format. Why not have a go?

What shall we do today?

You know, I’m pretty much the ‘out on a limb’ type: I often plan things that are a little bit unusual and have tenuous links to the topics being covered. I like a bit of leeway here and there. I like to take things in an unexpected direction. There are, however, skills to cover and these still need to be included in lessons as it’s an important part ICT. But doing it in a fun and engaging way is also key.

I like unusual activities. There’s the lovely menu project (as outlined on ‘Come Dine With Me) and a whole host of others. Ever thought about designing a theme park around a local area using PowerPoint (skills recapped: word art, text boxes, use of the spellchecker, inserting pictures, using Autoshapes and slide transition)? How about using Audacity and Movie Maker to create small information films and travel guides about our local area? What about linking ICT to Science work, using PowerPoint Autoshapes to design sportswear and logos. If your interested in making sessions challenging how about using my World Cup Challenge where pupils can go in any direction they chose as long as it fits the brief . there’s the Mathematical challenge and a number of others in the set.

Creative ICT can involve looking at different types of computer based art, graphics and photo editing packages. Pupils can try out a whole load of different types of software: some you might have installed at school (2Paint a Picture, Revelation Natural  Art, to name a couple of common ones) and some that are web based (Bomomo, Brushster, SumoPaint etc.). Some that are mainly for photo editing and manipulation (Fotoflexer, Tuxpi etc.), photo collage applications (Andrea Mosaic, Shape Collage etc. ) and some that aren’t really art packages at all  but have artistic merits (Wordle, PowerPoint, Textorizer etc.).

Pupils can use a Photo Album PowerPoint template or Ript to create digital art scrapbooks showcasing their efforts, writing little comments about their work. By the end of the session get them to decide on a favourite application and what they liked about it. So that everyone is focused on adding content to the scrapbook,  add their names to the fruit machine random name generator available via Classtools – and use it to choose pupils to come up front and showcase their work – that way you can carry out some self evaluation and peer evaluation (like  2 stars and a wish) during your plenary.

Fun with Texture

This morning I was playing about on the computer (as you do), browsing for nothing in particular, when I can across some stunning stained glass window pictures. Now the ones I saw were collages but I wondered if I could come up with an ICT activity that  could create the same thing. So here’s what I’ve come up with…

Now I was working with PowerPoint 2007, but the same thing would be created in exactly the same way using 2003. I started by choosing an image I wanted to recreate and applied it as my PowerPoint background. I was quite ambitious (I like a challenge) – you might like to start with a simpler image. I decided the easiest/best way to get the effect I wanted was to create transparent autoshapes with black borders and then use fill effects to fill them with textures or images. You are going to need a bundle of suitable textures and images to do this. I’ve built up a bit of a collection over the years but you might like to visit CGTextures and choose a few first.

So onto getting the Autoshapes in place. Start with the background or ‘underneath’ elements (sky, grass etc.) and then build up the layers. Any tricky shapes may have to be drawn with the scribble tool (using the background for guidance this isn’t as difficult as it sounds) and you must remember to join up the ends when using the scribble tool, or you won’t be able to fill the shapes with texture. As you can see from the image above, this meant that some of the shapes were joined up off the slide, but it will all come good in the end if you ensure you join the ends together somewhere.

Then I just kept going – adding more bits and creating more shapes. To create the leaves on the tree I cheated a bit – I drew a few shapes I liked and copied and pasted them, resizing and rotating them to fit the places they needed to go. It saved a bit of time and doesn’t affect the finished design. Once this was all in place it was time to start adding textures, either as a picture fill effect or as a tiled design. The completed image (which only used about 7 textures) looked amazing but A still needed to tidy up the edges. There are a number of ways I could have done this. I could have selected all the shapes using Ctrl+A, grouped them, saved the group as an image and used a photo editing or paint program to crop them. I chose to just press the Print Screen key and paste it into my photo editing package then crop and save. The finished image is below – I’m really quite pleased with it 🙂