How to Play with MakeBeliefsComix.com

HOW TO PLAY: WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

  

Click here to watch a video of students at City College, New York, talking about how MakeBeliefsComix.com helps them learn English. Their instructor, Tamara Kirson, was named The New York Times 2009 ESOL Teacher of the Year. To see her lesson plan click here.


What People Are Saying About MakeBeliefsComix.com

HONORS

– American Library Association selected MakeBeliefsComix.com for inclusion in its 2010 Great Web Sites for Kids, more >>(http://www.ala.org/greatsites). "Great Web Sites for Kids are those considered the best web sites for ages birth to 14, outstanding in both content and conception... 'great' should be thought to include sites of especially commendable quality, sites that reflect and encourage young people's interests in exemplary ways." << hide

– Google, UNESCO and LitCam selected MakeBeliefsComix as one of the world's most innovative web sites in fostering literacy and reading more >>and featured it in "The Literacy Project" (http://www.google.com/literacy/projects.html). The group allows literacy and educational associations to find and share ideas about literacy and reading promotion. << hide

– 2009 Parents' Choice Foundation Recommended Award. "The site is geared toward children, and instructions for use are clear and more >> simple, making it a fun and age-appropriate activity for kids 8 and up - although those as young as 5 could create comics with their parents' help and have plenty of fun along the way." << hide

– Selected for "The Best Ways to Make Comic Strips Online" compendium published by Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day.  more >>See http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2008/06/04/the-best-ways-to-make-comic-strips-online/  Says Ferlazzo, an educator, "Make Beliefs is a fairly well-known site that has a variety of characters that can be used in pre-made templates. It's already popular in schools — both in mainstream and ESL/EFL classes." << hide

– Essay titled "Creating Online Comics With Multilevel Students: Writing, Reading, and Telling Stories in English" more >>by Bill Zimmerman to be published for Multilevel/Mixed-Ability volume in Classroom Practice book series of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL). << hide

– Presented Workshop on "Creating, Comic Strips Online to Encourage Writing, Reading, Storytelling" at 2009 international convention of more >>Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL) as well as selected for Developers Showcase to present MakeBeliefsComix.com to attendees. << hide


What People Are Saying About MakeBeliefsComix.com

REVIEWS

– Education World (July 2012): "Every language arts class could benefit from some time spent on MakeBeliefsComix.com. more >> For simple fun, MakeBeliefsComix is tremendous. When put in the hands of a talented teacher, it can be even better English language arts lessons will take on a whole new dimension with this site, as students can create visuals to match original stories, or craft the images to fit existing prose...Educators serving special-needs students will appreciate the area of the site designed especially for them. There, users can read ideas and tips sent in by teachers of students with an array of learning challenges."

  -- Review by Jason Tomaszewski, Education World Social Media Editor(July 2012)

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– The New York Times' The Learning Network (July 2010): "On any of these sites, students can pick from a wide range more >> of story elements - characters, expressions, actions, settings and dialogue boxes - to create unique visual narratives. They can use these tools to illustrate any concept or curricular content, such as a scientific process, historical event, personal narrative or literary text. Suddenly every student can access his or her inner artist, and you'll have material for a great display of student work."

  -- Review by Ryan R. Goble (July 9, 2010)

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– Good Housekeeping (February 2009): "MAKE A FUNNY PAGE. Created by children's book author Bill Zimmerman, colorful more >>MakeBeliefsComix.com lets kids (ages 4 and up) design comic strips using pre-drawn characters. Kids fill in text bubbles, then print or e-mail the cartoons for friends for free."

  -- Review from Good Housekeeping (February 2009)

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– TESOL Essential Teacher Magazine (June 2008): "Imagine a computer lab full of adult ESOL students where not a word more >>is heard, where every head is bent in concentration, where smiles erupt spontaneously, and where fingers are clicking away on the keyboards. This is precisely what occurs when my students work with journalist and author Bill Zimmerman's web site, MakeBeliefsComix.com.

"From the moment they open the web site and discover the tools, the students begin to explore. Minimal instruction is needed because the tools are self explanatory (with language or visuals), and students feel comfortable experimenting with them.

"Clearly, when students create a comic strip of their own, they are using their reading and writing skills as well as tapping into their creativity. The comic strip work readily supports classroom work."

 -- Review excerpt from TESOL Essential Teacher Magazine (June 2008) by Tamara Kirson,
ESOL lead instructor at City College of New York in the United States.
Ms. Kirson was named The New York Times 2009 ESOL Teacher of the Year.

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– School Library Journal (June 2011): "We like the following tools for their ease of use, available options, and classroom friendliness...Author Bill Zimmerman's web-based site [MakeBeliefsComix.com] enables users to write their comics in languages other than English, including Spanish, more >>French, German, Italian, Latin and Portuguese...Find printables, lessons, and writing prompts here, too."

  -- "Anamania" by Jennifer Stern and Joyce Kasman Valenza, School Library Journal (June 2011)

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– School Library Journal (May 2009): "Comic generator site MakeBeliefsComix has a new offering. A printables feature now lets creative visitors of all ages download graphic handouts. Print more >>a comic or single illustration and let ELL and other students fill in the blank speech and thought balloons. Also new is a Teacher Resources page with tips on how to use comics in the classroom."

  -- Review from School Library Journal (May 2009)

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– Disney Family Fun (October 2009): "Our Favorite Things... At MakeBeliefsComix.com, aspiring cartoonists can create strips with just a few clicks of a mouse... more >> When kids achieve comic genius, they can print their strips or e-mail them to family and friends."

  -- Review from Disney Family Fun Magazine (October 2009)

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– National Education Association (August 2009): "MakeBeliefsComix.com is a web site that lets students write and illustrate their own comic strips online and e-mail them to family and friends. more >>It's available in seven languages."

  -- National Education Association (August 2009)

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– Read.Write.Think, a listing of the most useful web resources for English language arts teachers sponsored by the International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English, more >>selected MakeBeliefsComix.com for its Web Resources Gallery.

  -- go to Read.Write.Think

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– USA Weekend (January 2010): "...great websites that let kids get creative. These artistic sites are fun, safe and free. Explore them with your children to get your creative juices flowing. more >>Craft cartoons. Kids write, read and tell stories by creating comic strips online, then printing or e-mailing them to friends or relatives. All ages; makebeliefscomix.com."

  -- USA Weekend (January 2010)

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– Family Circle (September 2009): "Click on It. Has homework taken over since your kids went back to school? Get their creative juices flowing with one of these smart websites. more >>For the artist: MakeBeliefsComix.com. Choose characters, create dialogue in one of seven languages and complete a comic strip."

  -- Family Circle Magazine (September 2009)

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– AARP Bulletin (July-August 2009): "Bill Zimmerman is helping young and old connect, one comic at a time. The former newspaperman is creator of MakeBeliefsComix.com, more >>a website that lets you write and illustrate your own comic strips and e-mail them to family and friends."

  -- AARP Bulletin (July-August 2009)

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– Learning Languages: The Professional Journal of the National Network for Early Language Learning (Spring 2008): "MakeBeliefsComix.com is user-friendly and simple to use. Since more >>visitors to the website may use any of the available images to create their own conversations, this resource can be extremely valuable to teachers who wish to present vocabulary and language structures in a meaningful context. The characters are all visually appealing, which is sure to catch the attention of children in world language class."

  -- Learning Languages (Spring 2008)

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– New York Teacher (October 1, 2009): "It's time to banish the worn-out expression 'thinking outside the box.' With [MakeBeliefs] Comix strips, more >>students can learn to create emotion, dialogue and story lines by making their own comic strips, box by box."

  -- New York Teacher (October 1, 2009)

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– The Graphic Classroom (March 25, 2009): "...a wonderful online resource that teachers could use in the classroom." more >>

  -- The Graphic Classroom (March 25, 2009)

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– Nik Peachey's Daily English Activities Blog (May 28, 2009): "...a fun way you can use spoken phrases to create comic strips using the MakeBeliefsComix website. You can use these either to more >>remind yourself of any new phrases you are learning, or just to enjoy creating your own comic strip."

  -- Nik Peachey's Daily English Activities Blog (May 28, 2009)

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– Wired Blog Network, Geek Dad (October 17, 2008): "...MakeBeliefsComix.com is a great space for primary aged children to begin to learn the value of more >>storytelling in 3 panels. This online comic creation tool provides quite a range of options for children to begin... Best of all it offers a range of language options -- including Latin -- for the geekiest dads."

 -- From Wired Magazine (October 2008): Online Comic Book Creation for Kids, By Daniel Donahoo.

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– Learning Languages Magazine, Spring 2008:"MakeBeliefsComix.com is user-friendly and simple to use. Since visitors to the website may more >>use any of the available images to create their own conversations, this resource can be extremely valuable to teachers who wish to present vocabulary and language structures in a meaningful context. The characters are all visually appealing, which is sure to catch the attention of children in world language class."

 -- Learning Languages Magazine, The Professional Journal of the National Network for Early Language Learning, Spring 2008

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– Edutopia Magazine (April/May 2008): "[MakeBeliefsComix] can help children and adults share their ideas. It's a therapy tool to help the deaf and the more >>autistic communicate. It's a resource to encourage writing skills and to practice vocabulary or storytelling. And it all comes together at this site, where you choose a human or animal character, pick their mood, fill in a talk or thought balloon (in English or Spanish), and – boom – you have a comic strip…this site is creative fun for all ages."

 -- Edutopia Magazine (April/May 2008) Head of Class Hot Stuff page

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– NYS TESOL Idiom Magazine: "…ESL teachers may consider using this Web site with their students for various reasons, such as more >>1) practicing sentence structure and vocabulary; 2) engaging in make-believe conversations; 3) working individually or collaboratively; 4) introducing the idea of creative writing; 5) focusing on a speech genre; and 6) publishing their work. In addition, the setup of the site makes it feasible for teachers to design the writing activity to allow students to work individually, in pairs, or in small groups constructing authentic and meaningful dialogues."

-- NYS TESOL Idiom magazine review by Anne Henry Montante, ESL teacher in Buffalo city schools, and Elena Dokshansky, ESL teacher in North Tonawanda City School District

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– Adult Basic Education and Literacy Journal: "…individuals or families can (as I did in under five minutes) create comic strip stories using the provided characters and story ideas. more >>They can improve their literacy skills while having fun… The web site can help adult education students to improve reading and writing skills, and to enable self-expression and storytelling. Parents and children can create stories together, print them to create comic books or email to friends and family."

-- David J. Rosen, Adult Basic Education and Literacy Journal

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– NY TESOL Dialogue: "I recommend this Web site for three reasons: ease of use, cross-skill application, and the "familiarity factor."  The site is very easy to use and it's free. more >>You simply choose from a selection of characters, click and drag them into a panel and then add either dialogue or thought boxes. Poof!  You've become Charles Schulz for the day. You may also choose from various emotions for each character, change their size or stance, and customize color.  Even though the idea of students creating their own comic strip may seem more appropriate for lower levels, it can easily be used with higher levels. It has obvious applications in a writing class, but can also be used to reinforce specific grammar structures or specific vocabulary words for an oral skills class. Lastly, what I call the "familiarity factor" is the fact that all students, regardless of level, are familiar with the format of a comic strip. To me this is the most attractive feature because it creates a comfort zone for students – it allows them to experiment with language."

-- NY TESOL Dialogue review by Eugenia D. Coutavas, Hunter College, New York

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– Education World: "It can be used by educators to teach language, reading and writing skills, and also for students in English-as-a-Second-Language programs to facilitate more >>self-express and storytelling, as well as computer literacy.Parents and children can create stories together, print them to create comic books or email them to friends and family. It is a learning tool that is just plain fun!"

 -- Education World

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– ESL MiniConference Review: "…a very interesting new resource online for teachers and students who want to add creativity to their English language learning activities… more >>It is a relatively simple Web tool concept, and an exciting way to engage ESL/EFL students in creative new activities where they can experiment with the social contexts of language use."

  -- ESL MiniConference Review

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– New York State Spanish BETAC: "As the website says, 'our best educators and parents understand that playing is learning.' MakeBeliefsComix.com is an excellent resource more >>that allows English language learners to interact with a new language in a unique and enjoyable way."

 -- Poonam Basu, project associate, New York State Spanish BETAC, New York University Steinhardt Metropolitan Center for Urban Education

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What People Are Saying About MakeBeliefsComix.com

EDUCATORS AND PARENTS

"I love it."

--Yvonne Siu-Runyan, president, The National Council of Teachers of English

"This is great! The teachers just love your online comics more >>activities."

--Nick Miraflores, Supervisor of Staff Development and Program Evaluation of Literacy Programs Unit, New York City Department of Community Development

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"As the mom to a little boy with autism, I just wanted to thank you for your free MakeBeliefs more >>Comix. I don't know whether you know much about autism, but in very general terms, lots of these kids are extremely visual learners and they are a bit blunted in their ability to recognize how others around them are feeling.

"I use PowerPoint to make little 'social stories' for my son … on a regular basis, as I've found that humor and visuals can really reach him. Sometimes my little stories are about not leaving the backyard…other times, they introduce new vocabulary words and are about cowboys whose horses get stolen so they are reduced to riding cows! Whatever is needed, I produce.

"At any rate, a friend just recommended your MakeBeliefsComix site and it's like Santa came early! The fact that the characters look charming, one can customize the conversations, AND that there are various emotions shown make this a site I'm going to recommend to all my fellow special needs parent friends."

 -- LeAnne Cantrell, Mandeville, Louisiana

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"I am a Spanish teacher of handicapped children very interested in how new technologies can improve the access to knowledge to this group with special needs, more >>so I created an online course in IT skills for teachers that work in public schools specialized in this kind of children…The result has been incredible and very useful because MakeBeliefsComix permits children with movement limitations to create their own comic without needing the skills for precise drawing. Some of them use adapted mouses or computers but at least they can draw, thanks to it! They are very happy about it. So you can see, your program can help not only 'normal' people, but the 'special' ones as well."

--Sonia Camara, Bilbao, Spain

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"I used Bill's MakeBeliefsComix.com …with a group of students in a writing club and, especially for those who are more visual, more >>it became a great way for the students to have a little fun, think through organizing from one panel to another (sequencing first, next and last).

"After they created their comic strip online, they printed them out and we used them as a graphic organizer to write a full blown story. The kids looked at the first frame, wrote an introduction that set the stage for what happened there and they often included dialogue as well as a narrator's voice.  Since we know comics are snapshots in time, they then asked themselves 'what's missing between this panel and the next?' and filled it in with their words.

It ended up being a great tool and several students wrote more than they ever had before as a result."

-- Cathy P. Miller, Independent Literacy Consultant, TLA, Inc. Huntsville, AL

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"This is the 'perfect' family literacy type of activity because as parents and children support each other in creating and sharing comics, more >>they practice and learn more about reading, writing, expressing feelings, creativity, sharing ideas, and more."

 -- Carolyn Grimaldi, Family Literacy Program Coordinator, Center for Immigrant Education and Training, LaGuardia Community College, Long Island City, New York

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"I am a teacher in Bensalem, PA, and was introduced to your site during a technology course offered by St. Joseph's University. more >>With so many 2.0 sites out there, it's hard to pick through what is appropriate or inappropriate for education. Teaching 7th grade gifted and talented adolescents, my students totally loved your site. After reading Homer's Odyssey and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream they had to create a comic illustrating the theme or characterization. What fun!

I liked the fact that it could be printed or emailed. More importantly, it was TOTALLY SAFE! So I established a webpage of links to their created cartoons. Thanks for the fun! ... and educational value ..."

-- Anna Hentz, teacher

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"I am a teacher from Hong Kong. Thanks very much for sharing such a wonderful and creative idea with the teaching community. more >>I just used it in my English class to help students create dialogues which are needed for their story writing assignment. Even those who are not so motivated in learning English found the work fun, and I can feel their sense of satisfaction (as if they have achieved something)."

-- Vicky Mann

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"I just had to write to tell you how much I enjoy your website! As a parent of a seven year-old and as an elementary school teacher, I am excited to try this with my students. The first time I went more >>to the comic maker site, my son was thrilled that he got to 'play' and within minutes he was printing his first comic strip. The format is very freeing, since they don't have to take the time to draw each detail, and using the computer is a great motivator! Thank you so much for these great gifts. There is a lot to explore and I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun doing just that!"

-- Linda Preston, mother and Spanish teacher at Somers Elementary School, Somers, CT

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"This website is great! My students have had fun using it. We used it to summarize the mystery more >>stories they were writing…Thanks for such a wonderful product!"

--Tammie Honore, Language Arts 8, Ramstein Middle School, Ramstein, Germany

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"I am a MFL teacher in Stokesley North Yorkshire and I have used your site now in two of my lessons and it has been fantastic. more >>The pupils really enjoyed creating the comic strips and it gave them a good opportunity to practise their French and German. A great tool for motivating them."

  --Andrew Acheson

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"Just to say this site is amazing, and very easy to use. Post Graduate student teachers with whom I use it find it very more >>exciting with loads of potential for classroom use."

-- Dr. Freda Mishan, Course Director, MA ELT, Department Languages and Cultural Studies, University of Limerick, Ireland

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"Just wanted you to know that I have previously used your website with great success in working with a group of EFL teachers more >>from around the world through the Electronic Village Online program."

 -- Sharon Betts, Educational Technology Coordinator, Turner, ME

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"What a great idea! This could be used with my clients who have suffered head injuries and are not good at talking/communicating." more >>

-- Melissa Potter, Recreation Therapist, Brain Injury Community Rehabilitation Team, Royal Rehabilitation Centre, Sydney

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"Thanks so much for your great site. I recently used MakeBeliefsComix during my fifth through eighth grade social studies more >>units to create political cartoons to exercise my students' understanding of politial issues during the 2008 Presidential Election. In the past, I have used your site to support my eighth grade science curriculum to assess students' knowledge of facts during an astronomy unit."

-- Sharon Mistretta, Holy Family Catholic Academy, Norwood, NJ

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"Thank you so much....Writing is a huge portion of our College Prep class and this is more >>a great resource! Plus, my children will love it!"

-- Jenny Houck, College Prep Instructor, SCC Institute for Extended Learning, Spokane, Washington

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"I am a Spanish teacher at Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School in Plainview, N.Y. My students really enjoy your site. more >>It is really wonderful and helps my students to express themselves in the language. I have been using it regularly with all my classes. I think this is a great tool for language instruction. Thank you."

-- Seema Sumod

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"It think it's fantastic and have added to my favorites list to use in teaching EFL to my pupils. more >>The website is easy to use and I know my pupils will love it."

-- Renee Wahl, educator in Israel

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"A teacher at my school found this site and now everyone swears by [it]." more >>

-- Shelly McCormick-Lane, Westborough, MA, who uses the site to teach Latin language.

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"The site is used with school age children who stutter... The children build up a story more >>and then they have to describe it in front of a group. This will help the children to practice fluency techniques, to practice appropriate eye contact, to practice sequencing skills and also to help creativity. It is fun and motivating. It acts as a desensitization exercise for children who fear speaking in a group."

-- Dr. Joseph Agius, Speech Language Pathologist and Fluency Specialist, Speech Language Department, Malta

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"It [MakeBeliefsComix.com] was an instant success! The teachers loved it and the kids' creativity never ceases to amaze me. more >> Personally, I use the program with several autistic children who I teach. We were focusing on emotions and your characters were perfect. Also, the program was simple enough that they mastered it before their Educational Assistants did!!!"

-- Mary Joan Fletcher, AV Graham Public School, Tecumseh, Ontario

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If you have a comment about using MakeBeliefsComix.com which you would like us to add to the list above, please write to billz@makebeliefscomix.com and we'll add them to this page with your permission.