Canvas Learning Management System. We will definitely do a post about that one soon, as it is a fantastic tool, and we are eager to see how it works with our kiddos/families.
That being said, there is one "downside", if you want to call it that--It is definitely "built" for older kids. Meaning, it is not "cutesy" like us elementary folks love. No fun fonts. No fun images. Dry to the viewer.
Kate and I have figured out some work arounds to "spice it up" some and "cute-y-fy" it for our elementary friends. The easiest way has been to make buttons, banners, and other images ourselves to use within the program. Our tool of choice for this is Powerpoint! So, let's dive in and learn how!
Before we begin, just note that this process can be used for any image you'd like to create and save! I will be making "buttons and banners" in this tutorial, but I also use it to group pictures for this blog! The possibilities are virtually endless, and you'll be so thankful to have this tool in your back pocket!
Let's make a button. Make sure when you open Powerpoint, you delete the preset text boxes they give you in their slide templates. You want to be working with a completely blank slide. The first thing you need to do is pick the shape of your button. I will start with two different shapes in my screen shot, so you can see both ways.
Next, you need to decide on the color or pattern of your shape. You can use solid colors, patterns, gradients, or even images that you upload (We like to use digital paper files that we have saved!)
First, select the shape you'd like to change, then go to "Drawing Tools", and select "Shape Fill".
At this point, you can either add a text box (BEGINNER LEVEL), or really jazz it up (INTERMEDIATE LEVEL). I'll show you both :)
Adding a Text Box: You can use whatever font, size, center, etc. just like you would with any other text box you would create!
Ready for the "Fancier" version?!? :) We LOVE to use fun clip art! One of our favorite clip art sources is MyCuteGraphics. Seriously, friends, they have the BEST school clip art! And most of it is FREE (yes, you heard me...FREE!). They also offer paid clip art with their small business, Whimsy Clips. Just type what you want (we typed "Math") and you will be rewarded with pages of things to choose from! Just pick your image, right click, and copy! Then you are ready to paste it into Powerpoint and resize! We used the same text box as the circle button!
You can also play with the borders of your shape! You can make them dotted, a different color, 3-D, or more! Select your shape and go back to "Drawing Tools" (where you found the fill colors). Select "Shape Outline" and start playing around! There are SO many options to choose from! You could even select "Shape Effects" to make them 3-D, glow, and more!
The final step, is to save it as an image. This is an image you can use later and insert anywhere (projects, Google Docs, blogs, or even to spice up CANVAS, like us! :) To save it as an image, you need to make sure that all parts of the image you want are selected. You can use a "Marquee Drag" by selecting a point above and outside your completed image, then dragging to the opposite corner. If you don't know how to make that work, you can click a part, then keep holding down "Ctrl", while you select other parts, until all of your layers are selected. Then you double RIGHT-CLICK, and select "Save as Image." We like to save our images as PNG files. The benefit of this option is that they are higher quality and they do not have a white background! Save them to a folder or elsewhere in an organized way, so you will be able to find them when you need them!
That's it! Now you are left with an awesome image that you can use anywhere!!
The same process can be used to make "banners" with directions like this example below (to be used at the top of web pages, documents, etc.):
We hope you found this helpful! Like I said, we use this tool ALL the time for so many different reasons! A couple of ways we use this:
- Buttons for CANVAS (Our newest venture)
- Creating class schedule labels for your whiteboard or bulletin board
- Creating a custom image for a tool you are creating (packet, math exit slip, reading response sheet, etc.)
- Grouping images for a blog post
- Picture collages you'd like to print
- ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES! Have fun exploring the many ways you could use this to meet your individual needs!