iPad PhotoYesterday, we shared tools for finding great images to use in classroom projects and work. While knowing how to locate images that are free and legal to use is important in a world that requires more visual literacy, it is even more important to give students the tools they need to shoot and edit their own photos. The popularity of tools like Instagram alone reminds us how important it is to people today to express themselves visually, to create photos that not only capture the physical reality of a moment, but also the emotional content of that moment. Without question, today’s world demands that we develop skills related to capturing and composing digital images to help tell our stories.

Fortunately for us, the tools we have available to us make learning these skills accessible and easy. We no longer need to have a deep understanding of complex software like PhotoShop to create stunning and unique images. Instead, we can use any number of simple and free web tools and mobile apps to make the photos we take more visually compelling.

Getting Started

If you are new to the world of digital photography, I would encourage you to begin by reading this blog post as an introduction to the basic skills related to shooting and editing photos. So many of our students are walking around with smartphones that enable them to take high definition photos, it seems a shame not to encourage them to grow as photographers. Teaching them even a few tricks will help ramp up the quality of the digital projects (presentations, websites, avatars) that they create. Also, whether they use their own photos or Creative Commons licensed photos that allow them to make changes, learning to edit photos strengthens our students’ skills in terms of visual literacy in the same way that learning to edit writing enhances our verbal literacy skills.

Thankfully, we have a cornucopia of digital tools to explore, and many of them are free and easy to learn. You can explore this list as a great starting point. Then after that, I hope you will take a longer look at my favorite, BeFunky.


BeFunky Tool BarThere are a lot of reasons why I like BeFunky. First off, I love the palette of tools that BeFunky provides. I can always find a filter, frame or tool that gives me the look I am trying to achieve. These tools take me beyond simple cropping, exposure and red-eye reduction, but I can also rely on BeFunky when that is all that I need to do. Simply working your way through the toolbar to the left will give you a sense of just how extensive this tool kit is.

Another reason I like BeFunky is how easy it is to learn to use this tool. I find the interface to be very intuitive and that is important when I am working with kids. Additionally, it is super simple to share an edited photo from inside BeFunky via download, email and social media. Here is a quick demo of the web version:

The third reason that I like BeFunky is that it exists online and as a mobile app on both the iOS and Android platforms. That gives me the flexibility to take my favorite editing tool with me on the go.

If you are interested in getting a slightly deeper look at BeFunky, you can check out this webpage which includes several resources for helping educators get started with this great tool.

Your Challenge

Check out BeFunky and some of the other photo editing tools in our collection. Then share in the comments below how you might use a photo editing tool in your classroom. Also, if you have a favorite free photo editing tool that we haven’t shared, please let us know about it and share what you like about it.


  1. Holy Cow! This site is incredible! There are so many ways to edit photos! I can’t wait to show my own children how to use it! I would love to share it with teachers to use to edit pictures they use for visual cues for their students.

  2. Not only are photo editing sites great for presentations, but I also talk about photos and student’s online presence in my class. Students are so much more than an egg (reference to Twitter’s default profile picture.) I let the students decide on a profile picture at the beginning of the year. We discuss what your profile picture says about you – mine is quite boring I know. They take their photos and use them for their profile on their blogs and on Twitter. I’m really tempted to work a little more with photography in my class as I think this is a skill students can use well beyond school. Maybe even build a student sponsored warehouse of creative commons photos to share with the world. If anyone is interested in having your student join us, email me at [email protected].

  3. I love this app! I don’t use pics that often in school, but when I do, the kids will love this option for editing. I also like it for my own personal use. I think it will be a lot of fun to edit my own pics.

  4. I looked at PIXLR since several other people mentioned it. It is very easy to use and fun. I shared the site with both of my classes in math and science. They really liked it. I would incorporate this fun website into digital projects. One of the requirements of digital projects is a title page. Using PIXLR would be a fun,creative way to add a title page or an ending page for the project.

  5. Wow! Thank you Timothy for such a fantastic write up and video (we just featured your video in our blog!). We would love to work with any instructors who’d like to use our app in their classroom, we have a lot of premium features that we can make available to you! If you, or someone you know, plans to use this in the classroom send an email to [email protected] so we can get you set up :) We also have a really cool ‘Superstar’ program for those students who are really into photography and photo editing! Thank you again for sharing our apps :)

  6. It is blocked at my school as well. I did play with it on my iPhone and it was very easy to use. It would be a great tool for adding labels to pictures in science and social studies.

  7. My own kids LOVE the photo booth apps and making their pictures look crazy. Now that we have a rolling lab of Ipads I can see our own teachers using this for an autobiography lesson where the kids take a picture of themselves, correct it or make it funky and then write about themselves. I can see the art teacher using this for abstract art concepts to maybe go along with Picasso study. I can also see using this as a story starter. I like the idea of cropping out certain parts and getting the kids to maybe guess what the picture is for younger grades.

  8. The BeFunky website is really fun. I could see my students taking pictures of on going science experiments, then adding fun comments or observations with thought bubbles, etc..

  9. BeFunky is a great photo editing tool. My second and third graders take a couple of classes on photography, and as beginners, their pictures usually can use some “sprucing up.” I found it to be a relatively easy program to use and one I’ll have them ticker with.

  10. I have been having students do more photo documenting their projects, homework, presentations for entries into a digital scrapbook/portfolio on Evernote. Some have used an editor and I think I will recommend that more do. I really liked the mention yesterday someone made about Note Anytime to mark up photos or PDFs as well as an editor like today’s post.

  11. I like the idea for the art room because they can use this to edit their artwork and filter the colors, and see what all of the tools would do to something they have created. It could also be used to discuss key vocabulary like balance, color, space and looking at how the photograph they takes uses those things to communicate the picture to the viewer.

  12. I just edited 2 students working together with subtracting fractions. One mightily struggles. I was able to not really show who students were by using straighten crop

  13. BeFunky is Great! I tried it with an old picture I had that had poor lighting and it helped. Right now my students are taking pictures of their transformer, electric meter and circuit box for an energy project. The outside pictures they take after school are rather dark and I will encourage them to use BeFunky to lighten them.

    I also just sent pictures of my students in the middle of a lab that weren’t the best and I could have easily improved them.

  14. BeFunky looks awesome! I’ll definitely have to introduce my students to this site. They love to add their own flare to the projects we produce on their iPads. I like that sites like this helps them focus on details of images and take the time to make them better. This would be an amazing tool to use on family tree projects, where the students take their own photos or use older photos that need some cleaning up.

  15. I loaded the free BeFunky app. Very easy to manipulate photos. In Viology, students could use this for a visual for concepts such as cellular structure or an example of a biome…maybe as a way to introduce a research topic.

  16. I used to do a project in Algebra I where students had to have pictures (either images found or taken) of real life parabolas and this could have helped find that focus. I have also used a project before for Shapes Around Town to focus on the various quadrilaterals and others. Now, I can see myself telling about this tool for a future open ended math project idea I hatched while at NCTM for statistics found in real life, circles, and consumerism.

  17. We have not distributed a tool like this one to our students! I really like it! Thank you! I believe our digital design teacher would really enjoy using this tool. The students in yearbook and newspaper would also benefit as we are taking a newspaper online soon.

    Classroom application: illustrations for stories, digital design, create poster presentations, student expression, digital poster images of objects and students

  18. What a neat app that is VERY simple to use. This could be a great additional tool to any creation app that the kids already use on their iPads. For instance, the photos that kids are using for the backgrounds in their Tellagamis could first be touched up in BeFunky.

  19. I could definitely see myself using BeFunky for my own personal use. It is amazing how many edits you can do to a picture.
    I could see this site being used for many classes It could be used for a presentation in almost any subject! It would come in especially handy for an Art Teacher. I will be passing this sight to all of our teachers in the school.

  20. Instagram has a lot of these kinds of photo effects as well. I am used to using the more advance photo manipulators such as GIMP, CorelDraw, and Adobe Photoshop. This “BeFunky” has taken many of the different common editing tools from these 3 programs and put them together on one online program! I think I will use it to quickly alter or sharpen my pictures now!

    Using this in a math class could be anything from a project to a presentation. For example…the students documenting themselves working on their projects at home or working in class. Now that we have this kind of technology avaliable everwhere…we can make a lot of our projects much more student centered and student focused.

    Ill play around with it some more…maybe change my gravatar pic to something fancier.

    • I agree. As a photoshop user, I am used to a higher level of editing control. What I like about BeFunky is that a lot of the things that I would have done with multiple clicks in PhotoShop, I can do with one click in BeFunky. I don’t always use BeFunky, but I find that more and more, it is my go to editor.

  21. Great idea piggybacking off of yesterday’s post. We have a lot of students creating their own presentation using a variety of platforms, and this will give them another tool in their utility belt. This is how students are communicating their message! Instagram, Snapchat, and now BeFunky. So many effects and editing tools available in one site. Teachers can easily plug this in with whatever other video/photography resources they are already using!

  22. Instragram has changed the way people view photography. It has, in essence, leveled the playing field and made everyone a photo editor. Of course that has also sparked interest in photo editing and it can be a great engager.

    Photoshop has a iPad app that allows users to do a lot with their images. It is very fuctional and has a lot of features that can be very useful. The app is fairly easy to use, but if you know Photoshop, it is even easier.

    One that I have found that I enjoy, but don’t use as much as I should, is FilterMania. This is an iPad app that does a lot of what Instrgram does, but offers more options.

    Another one that is fun is Fat booth. While it is not really productive, it is fun.

  23. I can see students using the collage part of this app in class for projects. They are already using piccollage app on their ipads but this can be another tool they can use.
    I tried BeFunky with a picture. Students would like the features its has for changes, filters etc and cropping.
    I will share this with the art teacher as well.

  24. BeFunky is blocked at my school, so as soon as they unblock it for me, I’ll post something about that.

    I did check out the other sites and some were blocked and some weren’t. I really liked “Cut My Pic” and Pixlr. By having a computer lab as my classroom, it really allows me to do a lot with photos. I have found that the students enjoy adding photos to just about any project that we create. I can use photos with just about any novel that we read and it allows for creativity.

  25. I tried BeFunky and it was easy. My students use Pixlr and PhotoShop for their assignments. I can see using this site as a starting point for students who lack photo editing skills. Pretty much every project has some type of photo/image editing.

    • That’s true. It’s really weird to think that even 5 years ago, we weren’t focusing nearly as much (if at all) on how to shoot and edit photos. Now they are so important to making high quality work.

  26. I love BeFunky! Not everyone is a great photographer. Programs like BeFunky allow those lacking photography skills to spruce up their photos, so they are more usable. Students can use these types of programs to create not only art projects, but also photos that will work in other class projects (such as research papers, timelines, etc.).

  27. I haven’t talked with my teachers a lot about photo editing. I have used the app puppet pals in the past and showed it to my teachers. It is a great way for students to act out their plays, but not in front of a large crowd. With the paid version of puppet pals students can take pictures of themselves and they can be the puppet/characters in their story. Toontastic is another app that does this also.

  28. BeFunky, along with Pixlr, are already listed among the creativity tools on our Weebly website. Students can use these sites to add pizazz to photos used in projects and presentations. BeFunky’s many editing options will appeal to students as long as they don’t get too entrenched in creating the perfect picture.

  29. This site is an excellent resource. My journalism students are about to do a unit on photography and captions. I will encourage them to edit pictures with BeFunky, especially since most of them don’t have any prior experience with photography (especially if you don’t count selfies.) It’s easy for inexperienced photographers to mess up spacing, allow red eye, or take a picture at the wrong angle. This site can fix all of those issues and many more. Some of my students will go overboard whitening teeth and bronzing skin if I don’t warn them!

  30. I could certainly see myself using BeFunky working with digital art for announcements and events. Being that it’s a free online product, I know that some of the Language Arts teachers would love this as they have kids do various projects with pictures with their novels and writing. The collage ability and art/text addition really can make a simple photo addition to a project really pop with some of these features.

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