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Easy Touchscreen Fun in PowerPoint

We're going to make a really easy activity designed for touchscreen users. It's simple to make and simple to use but can be motivating and encourages good touchscreen use and an understanding of cause and effect. It can also be used with rollerball, joystick and mice users.

This activity uses video as it has been proven time and time again to be a great motivator. I'm going to use videos of farmyard animals but you can substitute these with anything your student will find motivating.

What you'll need

  • Microsoft PowerPoint (I'm using 2003)
  • Some short video footage

You can also download my copy of this activity if you'd like to play around with that.

Prepare your video footage

The first step is to collect up your video footage. Try to ensure that it's not too long and that it is in the right format. Microsoft PowerPoint accepts only 'native' Windows video formats like MPG, AVI and WMV.

I found some free samples of farmyard animals on the Artbeats External Link video footage website. They are in Apple Quicktime MOV format so I had to convert them to AVI. Luckily there's a easy (and free) way of doing this using Rad Video Tools External Link.

Create your main slide

Your first slide will be a sort of 'table of contents' that leads to the other slides on which you'll place your videos. I've elected to have four animals that our pupil can select from.

Blank option on the Taskpane

Launch PowerPoint and select the Blank Slide Layout from the Taskpane. This usually appears on the far right of the screen in PowerPoint 2003.

Insert your images

The Taskpane Dropdown Menu

Now we're going to insert the images that make up our simple contents page. I'm going to use Microsoft's clipart but you could easily use photographs from a digital camera or even text.

Click on the Slide Layout Dropdown arrow at the top of the Taskpane and select Clip Art from the menu that appears.

Drag clipart on to the slide

The Clipart Taskpane
Now it's time to search for each image and, once found, drag-and-drop it across onto the powerpoint slide.

Stick to a similar style

Similarities between clipart elements

It's usually a good idea to ensure that your clipart all belong to the same 'style' or a at least fairly similar to one another. You don't want to mix photographs and cartoons, or black & white and colour images, unless you have a specific reason (for example if you wanted your pupil to recognise the difference between these types).

My farmyard animals are all available in Microsoft's clipart as black & white etchings.

Resize your images

Make each image larger

Once you've dragged each image on to the slide you can resize each one in turn by dragging the corners out and repositioning the image.

Flip your images

Flip Horizontal option on the Drawing toolbar

Finally all my animals are facing each other except the pig. So as not to leave him out I'm going to use the Drawing Toolbar to flip him horizontally. If you can't see the drawing toolbar (usually at the bottom of your screen) then you will need to enable it by going to View > Toolbars > Drawing.

Start by selecting the image you want flipped across. Then click on the Draw menu on the Drawing toolbar and open the Rotate or Flip submenu. From this submenu select Flip Horizontal.

Preparing the video slides

Insert New Slide

Before you start adding your videos you need to create new slides for them to appear on. Since I'm going to add four videos I'm going to need four new slides. But rather than adding all four now I'm going to save time by creating just one new slide and then duplicating it later.

Go to the Insert menu and select New Slide.

Blank option on the Taskpane

As before you will need to select Blank from the Slide Layout Taskpane.

Add a back button

Clipart Gallery showing Left Arrows

The first thing I am going to add is a 'back' button that allows our pupil to return to the contents page once they have seen the video. You could set the slide to do this automatically after the video has finished or you could use both options. I'm going to stick to have a large back button.

To find something suitable I type 'Left' into my Clipart Taskpane. Once you've found a suitable image simply drag it across as we did with the other clipart images.

Add a text label

Insert Textbox

Now I'm going to add a text label to the page, using a large clear font that is easy to read. Select Text Box from the Insert menu and type your label into the box that appears on the slide. I'm going to type 'Cow' at this will be my first animal video.

Video Slide with Text and Back Button

Now resize the box, increase the text size and format the font so that the text is correctly positioned and easy to read. The easiest way of getting the text into the centre of the slide is to drag the sides textbox so that it resizes to fill the whole slide, then click the 'Align Centre' button on the toolbar (or press CTRL + E)

Duplicate the slide

Insert Duplicate Slide

Now that we've got a template for each slide we should duplicate it. As I've got four videos in total I'm going to duplicate it three times. Select Duplicate Slide from the Insert menu.

Each time you select Duplicate Slide you should see a copy of the current slide appear in your list of slides (usually on the left side of the screen).

Add your video

Insert Movie From File

It is finally time to add your video. Go to the Insert Menu and open the Movies and Sounds submenu. From the submenu select 'Move from File...'

An open dialog should appear on the screen. You will need to use this to locate your files on your hard drive or elsewhere. Once you have found your video files click on the first one you wish to insert and select the Open button.

Message Box asking How Movie Should Start

A message should pop up asking if you want to this video to start automatically when the slide is opened, or only when clicked upon. For our purposes you probably want it to start automatically.

Resizing and repositioning a video

Your video file should appear in the centre of the current slide. If it is too small then you can reposition and resize it as we did for the clipart images. Be warned that particularly small video footage will pixelate if resized to fill a much greater area.

All my slides now have content

Click on each new slide that you have created in turn and add the video to each one following the procedure above.

Then change the text labels by clicking on each on and replacing the text.

Adding the hyperlinks

Action Settings on the right-click context menu

This is out final stage. We need to return to our contents page and tell each image which video to play when it is selected. This is accomplished by setting a 'hyperlink' to each slide that the video has been placed.

Right-click on an image and select Action Settings from the menu that pops up.

Select the target slides

Hyperlink to Slide option on the Action Settings Dialog

On the dialog that appears select the "Hyperlink to" option and then select 'Slide..." from the dropdown list.

Prompt asking which slide to hyperlink

Powerpoint will now ask you which slide you want to link that particular image to. Obviously you will make sure you want to select the correct slide.

Adding hyperlinks to the Back buttons

Hyperlink to First Slide option on the Action Settings Dialog

This is the final stage. We need to go through each video slide and repeat the hyperlinking process we just did for our 'Back buttons. This is so that when they are clicked they return our user back to contents page.

So right-click on each back button in turn and select Action Settings from the menu that appears. This time, on the hyperlink to: dropdown menu, select 'First Slide'.


If you don't have PowerPoint on the computer you wish to play the activity you can download the free Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer. This is around 1.6 Mb.

Here's my copy of the activity if you want to download it and use it or adapt it. Because it includes the videos it is around 1.3 Mb in size.