Review by Megan Leppla, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2014
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Halftone 2

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Simple comic creator makes building stories fun

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Playful design and easy-to-use tools make this a great way to engage kids in digital storytelling.

Cons: Outside content may be required to prompt kids to tell their stories.

Bottom Line: This simple tool for creating comics is a fun option for a range of class projects.

Teachers could use this app to provide basic lessons in photography (composition, lighting, and presentation), but Halftone 2 is best used as a way for students to develop a story. Students can make use of the existing templates to break down their story's beginning, middle, and end. Individual devices may be preferred, as there are no options for multiple logins, and comics are all pooled in one gallery.

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Halftone 2 is an easy-to-use resource for creating comics. Kids can work together or individually using the ready-made templates to tell their stories. Begin by taking a brief tour through an introductory tutorial, and land on the home page with some example comics. The app comes pre-loaded with comics as a source of inspiration. Once kids click on a comic, they'll quickly find how easy it is to make modifications, uploading their own photos and text and transforming the samples into their own comic creations. Halftone 2, the sequel to Halftone, emphasizes touch features with a design that makes adding text to photos intuitive.

Transforming your photos into comics can be fun, and there’s potential to get kids thinking about building a narrative. Adding photos may help students visualize their stories and make it easier to add details as they begin to write. Of course, thought webs and simple collaging provide an analog version to this, but teachers who have access to devices (and a budget to purchase the app) will likely find this app engages their students. Plus, having sample comics and templates available makes getting started much easier for those with writers block. The edit tools are easy to use, allowing students to add their own photos and text to existing templates. Touch features make the edit tools intuitive enough for young kids while engaging enough to maintain the interest of older kids. Comics remain in the gallery on the home page and can easily be shared via social media, saved to the camera, or printed.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Ready-made comic templates make it easy to add photos and text, and edit tools allow kids to transform templates into their own unique comics.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Making comics is a fun way to construct a narrative.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The app opens with a brief tutorial for getting started, and more tutorials are available online.

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