I was asked this week to locate some software for students to use that would enable them to create animations easily. I have been playing with Synfig for the last couple of weeks and it is more like an open source variant of Flash in its interface rather than the kind of animation tool I was really looking for. I have been playing with it becuase a client has asked me to work out how to use it so that I can introduce it to their staff. This tool, however is not appropriate for students to use, well not year 6 students anyway.
In consultation with a teacher I went off to the Internet in search of something altogether more pure in an animation sense and easy to use for students. What I have found is a cracker of a program called Pencil. The beauty of this program is that it has tried very hard to be a traditional animators desk, very few tools, a colour pallette and a layers area are the only distractions or complications from the main drawing area.
It took me about 5 minutes to master the basic controls of this program, something that I like in a program. Now it will be my lack of creativity that determines the success or otherwise of the outcome and not the overly complex requirements of a program.
What is more, this program comes into its own if you have a tablet, drawing freehand with a mouse is always trcky. The students in question do not have access to tablets, but every class does have a Smart Board in it, enabling the students to draw very accurately with their fingers, thus producing some excellent results very quickly. A great tool and one that I would urge you to investigate. There are a couple of tutorials on You Tube, I will create some too and post them, however the program is so easy to use, a tutorial is almost superfluous to requirements.