A couple of years ago my students showed me an amazing tool that I am only now harnessing that of doing animation in PowerPoint. I found myself fighting to have the students work on projects and skills that I had setup for them and not these animation projects they were working on till last year. My students would be begging me to open the lab and/or stay after school to work on animation projects such as simple games, stories, comics etc. I finally decided to stop fighting them and teach them how to improve the projects they are willing to work on themselves.
This year I started a tech class called animation and game design at my middle school and I have found my life a bit easier as I am able to integrate other curricular areas into my tech class very easily. What we do in this class is use simple programs such as PowerPoint, Paint, Internet Explorer, and Photoshop (to a small degree) to teach students the importance of the writing process as it applies to multimedia projects. I have my students start out creating a simple animated story that centers around the meaning of a Forgotten English Word. With this I introduce the concept of storyboarding to them and how it fits into the writing process applied to a multimedia project. From there students then go on to animate a simple scene from their favorite book (or a book they are reading for their reading class). As the final project students need to create a simple game that incorporates animation to some degree in the game. So far we have had animated choose your own adventure type stories, and animated jeopardy. However that is not the most interesting use of animations.
I had one of the science teachers at my school talk to me about animations and how it could be applied to science. What we came up with was animating a science lab in an effort to help his students understand variables. Other ideas I can see for this type of project is having students animate selections from their reading books, to animations explaining how to solve math equations. The applications are endless.