Teaching Kids How to Create a Presentation: It's About the Story

What's really important about multimedia presentations is that they are storytelling devices. It's not about the software, its about the story.

We recommend a four-part process for any storytelling project, whether it's a presentation or video:

    • Begin with mapping activities to help generate ideas. 
    • Use storyboarding to help kids figure out the plot, logic, structure and elements of their presentations before beginning work in a software application.
    • Introduce the software slowly, making sure that you've already introduced any preliminary technologies you'll need as elements of the presentation. 
    • Do a group share when the work is complete so kids can share their work and learn from each other.

Multimedia presentations are also a great project for reporting after field trips, for presenting results from inquiry-based projects or for developing digital comic strips. Because most multimedia packages also offer simple animation functions, they're a great way to build on a series of traditional animation activities.

Presentation Software

A wide range of packages is available for authoring presentations, each offering more or fewer functions or targeting specific kinds of users.

    • Microsoft's PowerPoint, for example, is targeted toward business and professional people who are writing presentations, whether to be given as slide shows or presented on the computer.
    • HyperStudio is a general-purpose multimedia program with a fairly simple interface.

Although most applications offer combinations of more or less robust features for writing and graphics, they are mainly intended as composition programs in which you combine files from dedicated programs, such as illustrations from a graphics program, photos from a photo-editing program, and so forth.

Many of the lessons described in this section combine different modules, media and software packages to support broader learning objectives. Keep in mind that you can swap modules or combine them with other activities to match your unique curriculum plan.

For example, when introducing new software, it's often good to do so with simple activities, even though you may be engaged in a larger project. Suppose you are working on a long-term interviewing project that will involve making a Web page and using other technologies. You might want to first introduce Web authoring early with a shorter term lesson that you revisit later to teach advanced software features. In that way, you won't be introducing so much new software that you derail the main concept of interviews.

Also keep in mind that almost any project described here that culminates in a Web page could just as easily be done as a multimedia presentation, or vice versa. During your initial planning, think through the best times and lessons for introducing different software packages to the kids. View these lesson ideas flexibly, and adapt them to your needs, kids and plans.

tip Remember that the key to all successful projects and activities is good planning. Before you do anything else, determine your main objective. Is it to support a certain skills set or topic, such as vocabulary or science? Maybe the overarching goal is to teach Web page development, in which case a particular topic may be less important than, say, making sure there are pictures or even sounds to insert.

In any project, we encourage you to let the kids ultimately select their own topics, especially by introducing mapping at an appropriate stage, so be clear on what you're trying to accomplish in order to guide the kids toward your larger learning goals.