Animoto Lite is free (yeah!) and gives several easy options for creating simple videos but the videos have a certain polish to them that I haven't found with other sites. There is currently a free offer for educators for Animoto Plus and a $5.00/month option as well as an option for a yearly subscription. I like that they offer the monthly option too so you could do a project for an incredibly reasonable price and then be done.
You do need an e-mail address in order to sign up for Animoto so a teacher or parent will need to help younger students. In my class, I was able to create multiple copies of template under my own log in so when the 6 year olds came in all they needed to do was enter the text that went with each picture. I was able to open my account on several computers (20 in fact) at once with no problems or slow service which was wonderful. You just can't have more than one person working on a single video at a time.
I liked the way the program is set up into 4 simple steps for creative a video. First you choose your background and then you get this screen:
Older kids could upload their own pictures. In the case of the young students I was working with, I did step one for them and uploaded the pictures into the template.
Then you get a template that looks like this:
The menu line along the bottom allows you to simply click to add pictures, text, delete slides and more. Once you've added the slides you want it's easy to drag and drop them into the correct order. This is the screen that confronted the first graders when they made their space movies. All they had to do was click on the squares with a letter T in them and type their text into this:
There is only space for 52 characters which isn't much. A couple of students needed more space so they added more text slides and created more space. It's also a great vehicle for teaching editing as most students were able to reduce their character count to make it fit.
There is a sample on the site of an alphabet video that I really love too. I think the creative possibilities for Animoto are endless and I hope you and your children and students will enjoy it too.
Image credits on the Animoto Screen Shot: Animoto Stock Photos