Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Cognitive Comics With Canva

An Interactive Way For Students to Create Digital Comics

Sherry Franklin | Published: May 4th, 2023 by K20 Center


Cognitive Comics

In this strategy, students create short comics to artistically express their understanding of a concept or share a related experience.

Cognitive Comics

Create beautiful things with this easy drop-and-drag graphic design tool.




Hello, and welcome to this Tech-Integrated Strategy tutorial. Whether you’re teaching online or in a face-to-face setting, learning in the modern classroom often benefits from the digital mediation of educational activities.

In this video, you’ll learn how to implement the Cognitive Comics instructional strategy using the Canva tech tool.

Cognitive Comics is located on the K20 LEARN site under the Instructional Strategies tab. This strategy has students create short comics to express their understanding of a concept artistically.

Canva is a graphic design tool. This tech tool provides users with templates to create digital posters, presentations, comics, and more. This makes it a great option for students to easily create and share digital comic strips about their learning. You can find the Canva card on the K20 LEARN site under the Tech Tools tab.

In the how-to section, you’ll receive hands-on instructions for how to set up a Cognitive Comics activity using Canva.

How-To Guide

In this how-to video, we will show you how to set up and create Cognitive Comics using Canva.

Step 1

Open Canva by going to and selecting Log in or Sign up.

Step 2

Select All templates on the left side of the screen.

Step 3

Select or search Comic Strips.

Step 4

Select the template you would like to use.

Step 5

Select Customize this Template. For this example, we will model an ELA activity. 

Step 6

Double-click the title of the template.

Step 7

Enter the title of the book, Bunnicula.

Step 8

Select Elements from the toolbox.

Step 9

In the search bar, enter search terms for the background or image you would like to select. For this example enter the term "movie theater."

Step 10

Choose the image you want, and then drag and drop to add it to your template. Keep in mind that images labeled Crown Pro are not available in the free version of Canva.

Step 11

Use the circle icons along the border of the shape to stretch or shrink it to your desired size. Repeat the process until you have found all the elements you need for your comic and added them to the template.

Step 12

Return to the Search bar and enter "speech bubble" as the search term.

Step 13

To see more options, select See all.

Step 14

Drag and drop the speech bubble of your choice into the desired location in your comic. By adding the speech bubbles last, you ensure that they are in front of the other images.

Step 15

Select Text in the toolbar on the left.

Step 16

Select the Add a text box option at the top of the pop-out menu.

Step 17

Enter the text "I was found in a movie theater."

Step 18

Use the circle icons along the border of the text box to stretch or shrink it to your desired size. 

Step 19

Select the Share option. From here, you can download the comic or get a sharing link for others to view.


Using Canva, students can create Cognitive Comics without the pressure some of them might feel when asked to draw them by hand. Using Canva also allows for the use of the instructional strategy with students when working remotely.

Before using Canva for the first time, have each student create their own free account using their email address.

Students can work independently using their own devices or share a device and work in pairs. It is recommended that groups be no larger than two students to enable maximum participation.

You have the option to have students download their Cognitive Comics or create a link to share. If you have students create a link, have them change the Collaboration Link selections to Anyone with link and Can view.

Consider whether students are sharing their work with just you or with the whole class. Students can email the finished product or link, but they can also upload the image to Google Classroom, the class blog, or a Jamboard to share with their peers.

Use Cases

Cognitive Comics with Canva is a great way for students to share their knowledge related to a particular concept.

While our discussion has focused on an ELA example,  Cognitive Comics and Canva can be used in any classroom or content area.

For example, in a social studies classroom you can have students create a comic depicting a historical event like the Boston Tea Party.

In a science classroom, you could have students create a comic explaining erosion and how it affects the environment around it.

As you can see, there are a variety of possibilities for using Cognitive Comics with Canva in classrooms across multiple grade levels.


Cognitive Comics is an instructional strategy that can be used to help students show their understanding of a concept.

Canva is a free graphic design tool that provides templates for students to use as they create their designs.

Canva makes it easy for students to share their understanding of concepts visually with no drawing required. Canva also gives teachers an option for an activity that doesn’t require additional materials.

Visit the tabs below to explore other ways to use Canva or to incorporate Cognitive Comics in your classroom.


Is Canva a free tool?

Yes, if you are a teacher or student you can use Canva for free. There are also Pro and Team versions that require a fee and include exclusive resources.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 License.

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