This World and Other Worlds: Cartoon Creations, Front Page News, and Virtual Time Travel

In this Chapter

Length of Program

90 minutes

Program Description

“This World and Other Worlds” is for teens who like history and facts, or for teens who like to explore “what ifs.”

“Cartoon Creations” and “Front Page News” are alternate history programs in which teens re-imagine American history, world history, or personal history and express their creative ideas by drawing cartoons, or by writing news headlines and designing magazine covers. Teens may work individually or in groups, and may complete their projects manually or using computer programs provided by the librarian.

At the beginning of the program, the librarian explains alternate history and what the teens will do during the program. Librarians may select a specific decade, such as the 1940s or 1960s, or specific events, on which the teens will focus, or they may ask teens for suggestions and preferences. For example, teens might imagine what life would be like if something had not happened, such as Sept. 11, 2001, or the Challenger Disaster and create a magazine cover. Or, they might imagine what life would be like if everyone had ESP or telepathy and create a comic strip. Younger teens might enjoy creating comic strips of fractured fairy tales or alternate versions of their favorite comic book or fictional stories, such as Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman or Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts by Roald Dahl. Teens who want to challenge themselves might focus on creating magazine covers of alternate versions of historical events.

In “Virtual Time Travel”, teens play historical computer based games and board games, or attend a program by a guest speaker such as an historical re-enactor. Suggestions for computer and board games and guest speakers are provided.

Cartoon Creations

Begin the program by explaining alternate history and what the teens will do during the program. Then, let the teens work individually or in groups to create comic strips, either by hand or using online comic creators. If teens will use online comic creators, provide desktop or laptop computers and printers. If teens will draw comics by hand, provide markers, paints, colored pencils, and paper.

In advance, gather books such as the Cartoon History of the United States or The Little Giant Book of Weird and Wacky Facts for teens to read for inspiration.

If teens will create comics online, select an online comic creator in advance. Some require logins and allow teens to save their comic strips. Suggestions for online comic creators are listed below. Librarians should become familiar with the selected site(s) in advance so that they can show teens how to use them.

Animation for Kids-Create animation online with FluxTime Studio

Make Belief’s Comix!

ReadWriteThink: Student Materials: Comic Creator

ToonDoo-The Cartoon Strip Creator

Front Page News

Begin the program by explaining alternate history and what the teens will do during the program. During the program, teens will write news headlines and create magazine covers about real or imagined events, using web sites selected in advance by the librarians. Then, let the teens work individually or in groups to write headlines and create magazine covers. They may complete their work either by hand or using online comic creators. If teens will work online, select web sites in advance and provide desktop or laptop computers and printers.

Teens will not be able to save their newspaper heading or magazine covers on the web sites. Unless they may save their work on the library computers or a disk, the newspaper headings and magazine cover must be printed. If a color printer is not available for use by teens, provide markers and color pencils for the magazine covers. Below are some suggestions for web sites that teens may use. Librarians should create newspaper headings and magazine covers in advance so that they can show teens how to use the selected sites.


This site will allow teens to download their magazine covers to a disk and make a slideshow.

Magazine: Create a Customized Magazine from Your Digital Photographs

Teens may upload pictures and add them to a magazine cover on this web site.

The Newspaper Clipping Generator

Teens may enter text on this site.

Virtual Time Travel

In this program, teens play computer games based on certain eras or events. Allow at least one hour for teens to play these games.

Computer Games

If teens will play computer games, they will need desktop or laptop computers with the games installed. Librarians may also provide a digital or multimedia projector and screen that will allow everyone attending to watch the game. In advance, consult with your technology staff and install the games on the desktop or laptop computer. You may wish to use an old computer not connected to the Internet. Before installing the software, make sure that the computer meets the minimum requirements listed on the outside of the box of the computer game. Below is a list of some popular games that can accommodate multiple players. There is a learning curve, and teens may begin by playing a tutorial game (a sandbox game) or a Quick Start game, (an option in Sid Meier’s Civilization.)

Sid Meier’s Civilization III & IV (ESRB Rating : E10+)

Console: PC

The Civilization series has been around for sometime (the first version is in DOS). The Civilization series contains three sequels and seven expansion packs. Civilization IV Gold Edition is the latest in the series. Civilization III Complete or Civilization IV Gold Edition are recommended because they include expansion packs and features that are useful in a gaming program. Civilization has a single player mode, a multi-player mode, and can be played over a LAN. Civilization IV has a play by email option. In this Civilization, each player chooses a civilization to lead, and a leader. Each civilization has some technology consistent with the time period of 4000 BC. Each player begins building a single city and adds more to expand their civilization. Players win by conquering other civilizations, being the first civilization to fly a space ship to Alpha Centauri, controlling most of the land and population, developing three “legendary” cities, or becoming a World Leader. For librarians who have never played a strategy game, there is a tutorial, or the “Quick Start” option uses the settings of the last game played. There is more information available at the official site at Minimum requirements for Civilization III are available at, and for Civilization IV they may be found at

Age of Empires Series (ESRB Rating : T)

Console: PC

Games in the Age of Empires series begin in different ages. A tribe or civilization is selected at the beginning of the game. Players start with a few villagers or soldiers and a village site or a few buildings. Villagers and cities will grow depending on the amount of resources that they have and how each player uses them. A popular aspect of this series is that each new game focuses on a different age. Age of Empires (AOE) and The Rise of Rome focuses on the Stone Age to the Classical Age. AOE2: Age of Kings and the Conquerors focuses on the Middle Ages. AOE3 focuses on the European colonization of America with expansion packs, The Warchiefs and the Asian Dynasties. Keep in mind that in order to use an expansion pack, you must purchase the Age of Empires game that goes with it. For more information, visit the official site for Age of Empires at

Sid Meier’s Railroads! (ESRB Rating : E)

Console: PC

This is the latest version of the game Railroad Tycoon designed by Sid Meier. Unlike Sid Meier’s Civilization series, Railroad is an economic strategy game. Players choose a tycoon like J.P. Morgan. There are also 15 scenarios to play, based on the history of railroads around the world. Players build their own railroad empire by laying tracks and creating routes that give birth to new cities. They earn profits by shipping goods and by owning the facilities that process the shipped goods. Random events that could wipe out an empire’s finances and hostile takeovers by other players make the game challenging. For more information minimum system requirements, go the Firaxis Games’s page for Sid Meier’s Railroads! at

Board Games

If teens will play board games, provide some of the games listed below. Allow at least an hour for teens to play. Make sure that there is a large enough table for the players, and enough space and chairs so that others can watch the games.


Pirates of the Caribbean Battleship Game

Pirates of the Caribbean Game of Life



Stratego®: Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean™ Edition

Guest Speakers

Many cities in Texas have museums dedicated to local history. Invite a speaker to discuss local history.

There are many unique museums across the state, such as the Museum of the Pacific War, the Museum of 20th Century Technology, and the Funeral Museum. Invite a museum docent to tell the teens about the area in which they specialize. Visit the Texas Associations of Museums web site at for other specialized museums.

Invite a group that reenacts certain time periods, such as the Society of Anachronism. Visit at to find additional reenactment groups.

Books to Display

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko.

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation by M.T. Anderson.

Cartoon History of the Modern World by Larry Gonick.

Cartoon History of the United States by Larry Gonick.

Cartoon History of the Universe by Larry Gonick.

Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman.

The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove.

The Little Giant Book of Weird and Wacky Facts by K.R. Hobbie.

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance by Jennifer Armstrong.

Ties That Bind, Ties That Break by Lensey Namioka.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

The Two Georges by Richard Dreyfuss and Harry Turtledove.

Books to Booktalk

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventure of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy by L. A. Meyer.

The Land by Mildred D. Taylor.

The Year of the Hangman by Gary L. Blackwood.

Bulletin Board

Use web sites such as Trivia at to test teens’ knowledge of history or strange events. Create a trivia quiz for teens with true-or-false statements such as, “George Washington chopped down a cherry tree.” Place each trivia question on the bulletin board with corresponding clipart or photos. Hand out copies of the questions to teens during the program. Give small prizes or candy to teens who answers all of the questions correctly. Or, hand out the trivia questions before the program, with the date and time of the program, and give a door prize to anyone who returns a completed quiz.


Along with chips, cookies, and beverages, serve popular snacks from the past, or have teens make a snack as an activity. There is information and recipes on foods during the twentieth century on the Making Friends web site at and on the Food Timeline web site at

Or, serve retro candy. You can order Retro Candy Gift boxes from Brach’s began selling candy in 1904, and many local stores carry a selection.


History isn’t boring, nor do your incentives need to be. Have fun with door prizes by handing out Retro Candy such as Now and Later and Pez, Retro Candy Gift boxes from, or Brach’s candy.

Or, provide inexpensive games and toys such as Jacks and ball sets, wooden paddleball games, Old Maid cards and Go Fish cards. These can be ordered from S & S Worldwide at and Oriental Trading Company at

Web Sites

Animation for Kids-Create Animation Online with FluxTime Studio

This web site is an easy way to create an animation and email it to others. It is free, but there is a fee for saving the animation to the web site.


Use this website to create slideshows of magazine covers. Teens 13 and older may register with Animoto to create a video.

Food Timeline

This web site lists popular American foods from 1920-1980.

Magazine: Create a customized magazine from your digital photographs

Create a nice looking magazine cover with this web site. You can upload your own photo without signing in. After your cover is created, you can print it or save it.

Make Belief's Comix!

This web site has characters that teens can use to create a comic strip. It’s very simple, and teens can print or email copies of their strips to friends. Librarians may request permission to post the strips in the library or on library web site by contacting the owner of the Make Belief’s Comix.

Making Friends

This website shares a few recipes for popular snack foods from 1910-1970.

The Newspaper Clipping Generator

Use this web site to create your own news story with a newspaper name and headline. Download images and use them on a web site or blog. The owner of the site asks that users not include the names of real people or newspapers.

ReadWriteThink: Student Materials: Comic Creator

This is a simple cartoon maker that supplies the characters, the props, and the word balloons for your cartoon strip. After teens create their cartoons, they may print them.


This is a good site to search for groups who reenact past events and time periods. This is an international site, so look for local listings.

Society of Creative Anachronism

Texas (majority of counties in TX) -

El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas-

These are the links to Texas groups that reenact life in pre-17th century Europe.

Texas Associations of Museums

Use this web site to search for museums around the state.

ToonDoo-The Cartoon Strip Creator

This cartoon strip creator offers more variety than similar sites, and the cartoons appear more professional. This site requires an email address, a user name, and a password.

Professional Resources


Order games and retro candy for incentives and refreshments from

Oriental Trading Company

Oriental Trading Company has games like paddleball and Jacks.

Texas Teens Read 2009! Programming Manual / Time Twistin’ TTR.09

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 10, 2011