Recently, I’ve been messing around with infographic websites, looking for better ways to help my OLLY app customers get started. It’s always hard to learn how to use new software, especially one with a lot of different features, and no one really wants to wade through a lot of text. I have some video tutorials on how to use certain features, but I think a graphic flow map would give a better overview of the whole system at once.
That’s the beauty of infographics – the ability to pack lots of information into a small space by combining text with visual elements such as pictures, shapes, colors, symbols, charts, graphs, etc. It’s actually a lot of fun playing around with these, and it seems to me that kids might also enjoy making visual representations of subjects that are interesting to them.
Be warned: I’m not saying that making information graphics is easy, particularly when you have to first learn to use software to make them. I am suggesting a hands-on approach with paper, markers, scissors, and maybe magazine clippings of words and photos. If your kids are really into computers and want to try the digital approach, there are some simple do-it-yourself sites like ManyEyes, Creately, and Gliffy for diagrams. I used ABCya! Word Clouds for Kids for the word cloud at the top of this post (super easy).
I also found some interesting looking software for kids: Inspiration for grades 6-12, and Kidspiration for grades K-5 (see the examples below). I have not tried either of these, but the demos shown on the website make them look easy to learn and visually appealing for kids.
Your kids could also try out some of the graphic capabilities of Microsoft PowerPoint and Word. Visiting online tutorials and help sites will get them started, and any time spent learning to use those applications will be worthwhile for future projects at school and on the job.
Even if your family is not inspired to make their own infographics, it’s fun (and educational) just to look at what other people have made. Here’s a few sites that I particularly like:
Kids Discover has a nice collection of infographics especially for kids in a wide range of science, history and geography topics.
Another cool site chock full of apps, games and infographs related to kids and technology.
As you look at different examples of information graphics, notice that the best ones have a cohesive theme along with original, accurate information and compelling graphics. There are a lot of bad examples out there – see if your kids can distinguish and explain the elements that make some visualizations better than others.
For more information on how infographics might be used to inspire reluctant report writers, please see my earlier post here.