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5 Free GIF Apps for Students and Teachers

Experiment and have fun with these GIF-creation tools.

November 01, 2018
Emily Major Associate Managing Editor, Education
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES In the Classroom, Tools

It seems like GIFs are everywhere these days, from social media feeds and emails to group texts. And it's no wonder: Like emojis or memes, they're a fun way to add a little humor and creativity to our daily communications. A GIF (which stands for "graphic interchange format") is a digital image file that contains multiple frames so viewers see a quick animation, often accompanied by playful text or images. GIFs are typically used to express a humorous reaction or feeling. 

How Can GIFs Be Used in Classrooms?

Try using a GIF-creation app to energize class content, encourage creativity, or put a new spin on assessments. GIFs are fun to create, and as students tinker with the design choices, they'll get to think critically about visual effects and messaging. Teachers can liven up class materials with student-made GIFs or their own creations. Kids can give feedback on a lesson or activity with their own tailored GIF response.

It's easy to pull in your own video, find one on YouTube, or record your screen and then use the built-in editing tools to trim the video, add text or images, and share. There are a bunch of free GIF-creation apps to choose from, and whether you're looking for an iOS or Android option, at the beginner level or more advanced, you're bound to find something new to try below. If you're having trouble getting started, check out KQED Teach's free online course for making memes and GIFs.

GIF Brewery App

GIF Brewery by Gfycat

Price: Free
Platforms: Mac apps
Grades: 6–12

GIF Brewery is a Mac-based app with an array of editing options. Students can choose a video from their device or find one on YouTube, and then edit it down to create a GIF. There are lots of options to add text or images, crop or resize the frame, and change the quality or frame rate of the creation. Although there's not much guidance built into the app, kids can have fun experimenting with all the settings.

GIPHY Cam App IconGIPHY Cam

Price: Free
Platforms: Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Grades: 8–12

GIPHY Cam doesn't offer a ton of editing options, but it's a fast and easy tool for creating GIFs on Android or iOS phones. Use the phone's camera to record a video or choose media from the phone's library and then trim down the clip. Kids can add text, filters, or silly stickers to personalize their creations.

GIPHY Capture App IconGIPHY Capture. The GIF Maker

Price: Free
Platforms: Mac apps
Grades: 5–12

Another Mac-based app, GIPHY Capture is really simple and easy to use. Rather than uploading a video or grabbing a link from YouTube to start, users record their screen to create GIFs. You can apply some basic editing options, around pixel size or text, to the recording. Teachers could use this straightforward app to create instructional GIFs for students and colleagues.

Momento GIF App screenshotMomento GIF Maker & Creator

Price: Free, Paid
Platforms: Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Grades: 6–12

An app for Android or iOS, Momento offers a free version, but there's a Momento watermark and limited features. The app is elegantly designed and easy to use; teachers and students can quickly create GIFs from photos and videos. Although the free version limits the editing features and restricts the media you can use from your library, it's still a useful app for creating simple GIFs that could be used in class presentations or for quick assessments.

PicsArt Animator AppPicsArt Animator - GIF & Video

Price: Free
Platforms: Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Grades: 8–12

If you're interested in creating both animations and GIFs, PicsArt Animator is a cool hybrid option; users can create animated videos and export them as GIFs. Since your GIF is a collection of frames that starts from an animation project, this tool is strongest as an animation creator with lots of editing features. There's not much built-in support, so beginners will need additional guidance to get started.

Vidcode WebsiteVidcode

Price: Free, Paid
Platforms: Website
Grades: 8–12

It's not a specialized GIF app, but Vidcode is a coding tool that shares much of the same logic with the GIF apps listed above. With an emphasis on creativity and self-expression, users can upload their own photos, videos, and audio to create stop-motion videos, music videos, memes, and more. If you're looking to go deeper into the code that is the foundation for these types of media, Vidcode is a great tool to extend the learning.


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