It should be no surprise to educators to be told that visual storytelling style of comics is far more engaging for students than text alone. The blend of image and text is a more motivating medium for expression than just text and images alone. The power of using images as a learning tool is exemplified through the research by 3M Corporation which concluded that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. The comic format can be a good scaffold for language use and require students to give far more thought to their creation than a mostly text based project.

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Caption It - Free ( M-C )
Best for : add a balloon caption to a single frame image
Age range : 8 - 14 yrs
Features : This is a very simple App that does one thing quite well - add a photo, add a caption, done! Photos can be from your library or taken within the App but they must be portrait photos as the App only works in portrait orientation and photos cannot be resized or rotated. There are 4 different speech balloon styles and more than enough orientation options within each and they can be rotated and resized. Finished products can be saved to the library, email or Facebook. To start a new project you need to press Clear Photo and a Clear Caption buttons.
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Comic Life - $5.49 ( C )
Best for : comic strips and photo albums with captions
Age range : 8 yrs upwards
Features : Well known photo comic creation software that can now be used on the iPad. For those used to the software version, it operates pretty much the same. Start by choosing from 10 templates with hundreds of page layouts, photo album style layouts or use a blank page. Images can be resized and rotated and there are plenty of text balloon options. Apply image effects from a choice of 18 different filters. Choose from a large variety of font types and text balloons. Completed creations can be exported to Dropbox of as a pdf to iBooks. A highly creative and versatile app for any grade level. - YouTube video
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Comic Puppets Lite - Free ( M-C )
Best for : creating characters to use in animation Apps
Age range : 6 - 14 yrs
Features : Produces a single frame cartoon and the orientation is set to portrait. There is a free version for $2.99 that gives access to many more objects. The Lite version has no ads but you are limited to 6 characters, background colours and 20 objects. The full version gives access to another 53+ characters, background scenes and 80+ objects. Both versions allow you to add your own photos as backgrounds and add a photo of a person's head to an existing character body to make a new character. The cartoon images are very good quality and there is a lot of versatility within this program. Cartoons can be saved to the Photo Library. YouTube video
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Halftone 2 - $1.99 ( C )
Best for : comic strips
Age range : 8 yrs upwards
Features : A well featured comic strip creator that is an alternative to Comic Life. Halftone 2 has plenty of functions to create high quality comic strips. Includes a variety of templates, cell styles, balloon types, stickers, colour gradients, image filters and text options. If you are used to Comic Life from the computer then you will probably stick with it, otherwise, at half the price, Halftone 2 is a worthy alternative. YouTube video.
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Motivational Poster - $0.99 ( M )
Best for : single image posters
Age range : 8 yrs upwards
Features : There are plenty of serious to hilarious examples of these posters on the Internet. Whilst a singular function, what this app does it does very well. Simply crop and position an image, add some text in a preset size and you have an effective looking poster. Not a lot of variety as one style is all you get but they can be an effective addition to a wider unit of work.
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Phoster - $1.99 ( M )
Best for : detailed poster layouts
Age range : 12 yrs upwards
Features : With a large selection of templates and design styles available it is easy to create a very stylish poster which can be used as a poster or as an image in another program. Select a photo from your library or take a photo from within the app. Resize and reposition the image and then use brightness, contrast and saturation controls to tweak it. Add your own text using the template style and your poster is ready. YouTube video
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App Categories
I - very directed or purely for information
I-M - mostly instructive but allows for some response to user input
M - fairly even mix of instruction and creativity, produces a predetermined outcome
M-C - mostly creative but within a framework, allows for varied output
C - very open ended allowing full user control of the content created, usually starts with a black page

Prices are in $AUS and were correct at time of publication but are subject to change.