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One of the coolest features Storyboard That offers for customization is what we like to call Smart Scenes. Essentially, Smart Scenes enable users to customize the scene in a variety of ways, from weather to time of day to even furniture. You can customize both characters and scenes to make sure your storyboard is exactly how you want it, and to add more depth to your creations.

Our artists have created hundreds of dazzling scenes to represent places from all around the world, throughout history, time, space and even your imagination! Be sure to check out every category and don't forget about our handy filters button to narrow down just what you're looking for.

While Smart Scenes are already lots of fun, I wanted to highlight some ways you can use Smart Scenes with your students to enhance their learning! For those not familiar with Smart Scenes, here’s a quick breakdown.

First, drag and drop the scene into your cell. This example shows a Boston city sidewalk scene, found in Scenes > U.S. History.

Second, click the ‘Edit Scene’ button that appears on the right-hand menu.

Then, this window will appear! Look at all of those options!

edit scenes modal of boston skyline

Select the changes you wish to make, and click ‘Update Scene’.

Using Smart Scenes in Education

Sequencing / Plot Diagrams

There are many works of literature in which the weather plays a significant role in the story. The short story “Zlateh the Goat” begins during the winter, but no snow has fallen. The main character, Aaron, is told that he must bring the family goat, Zlateh, to the butcher to sell since the family has fallen on hard times due to a lack of snow (the patriarch of the family makes fur garments for a living). As Aaron is bringing Zlateh into town, a huge storm hits and the two of them find shelter inside of a large haystack. After three days inside the haystack, Aaron and Zlateh are found and they return home. Because of the snow, the family no longer needs to sell the goat and they all enjoy a snowy holiday season together.

Here, the weather plays a key role in the plot of the story. With no snow, the family must sell the goat. Because of the snowstorm, they must take shelter for three days. Using Storyboard That’s Smart Scenes makes it simple to show the family home before/after the snow comes, as well as the storm and other snowy locations.

To use Smart Scenes for other plot diagrams where weather may not be such a key factor in the story, suggest that students use other Smart Scenes features, including time of day customization as well as the adding/deleting of furniture and other items in the scenes!

Vocabulary and World Languages

Vocabulary is a key aspect in any foreign language curriculum. Our Smart Scenes are PERFECT for helping students grasp vocabulary for time of day, seasons, weather, clothing, and conversation vocabulary. They make it even easier for students to imagine different types of weather they may not encounter already where they are, and help put new vocabulary into context.

In the example on the below, the scenes are customized to have different weather based on the various seasons. It is the perfect way to have students incorporate new vocabulary about weather conditions and clothing into a fun and engaging storyboard. Language teachers know that visualizing vocabulary leads to greater retention. There are many ways to use storyboards in the World Language classroom!

Check out our catalog of World Language lesson plans!

I can see the Smart Scene feature being very useful in tons of other World Language units, too! Are you a World Languages teacher? How would you use this feature? Tweet your answer to @StoryboardThat and we’ll RT our favorites!


Storytelling can help students work on a variety of skills - from writing skills and reading comprehension, to public speaking if they end up telling their story to their classmates.

Smart Scenes are a great tool for improving upon a story by customizing each cell to fit the story’s needs. In this example, while there are no words, a story is told simply through the use of the weather customization options!

Smart Scenes also can spark a conversation about how the weather in a story affects the mood and how students can effectively choose what type of weather they want to tell their story in. Most students may not think about this without prompting, but a rainy day is going to give their audience a different vibe than a sunny one!

With so many customization options in each scene, not to mention customizable characters, and a library of search items, PLUS millions of images via Photos for Class, the opportunities for amazing storyboards are endless! Students have the ability to let their creativity shine through, and tell the stories they want to tell.

How to Teach Critical Thinking using Smart Scenes


Introduce Critical Thinking

Explain the importance of critical thinking skills in analyzing information, problem-solving, and making informed decisions. Provide examples of real-life scenarios where critical thinking is necessary.


Introduce Smart Scenes

Introduce Smart Scenes from Storyboard That as visual prompts for critical thinking activities. Explain that Smart Scenes depict various situations or concepts that require analysis and interpretation.


Analyze Smart Scenes

Select a Smart Scene and display it to the class. Guide students in analyzing the visual elements, such as characters, setting, actions, and expressions. Encourage students to observe details, make connections, and form initial interpretations.


Ask Thought-Provoking Questions

Pose open-ended questions related to the Smart Scene, encouraging students to think critically. Encourage students to provide evidence from the scene to support their answers and interpretations. Prompt them to consider different perspectives, possible consequences, and underlying motives.


Engage in Collaborative Discussions

Divide students into small groups and provide each group with a different Smart Scene. Instruct them to discuss and analyze the scene collectively, sharing their observations, interpretations, and reasoning. Encourage active listening, respectful debate, and the exploration of alternative viewpoints.


Reflect and Evaluate

Conclude the activity by having students reflect on their critical thinking process. Ask students to share their insights, challenges, and any changes in their initial interpretations. Engage in a class discussion to evaluate the effectiveness of critical thinking strategies used and the impact of the Smart Scenes in fostering critical thinking skills.

Frequently Asked Questions about How To Use Smart Scenes

What are Smart Scenes on Storyboard That?

Smart Scenes are a feature on Storyboard That that allows users to customize scenes in a variety of ways, including weather, time of day, and furniture. This feature adds depth to the storyboard and allows for more creativity in customization.

How do I use Smart Scenes in my storyboard?

To use Smart Scenes in your storyboard, first, drag and drop the scene into your cell. Then, click the ‘Edit Scene’ button that appears on the right-hand menu. From there, you can customize the scene to your liking.

How can I use Smart Scenes in education?

Smart Scenes can be used in education in a variety of ways. For example, they can be used to create sequencing and plot diagrams by showing the before and after of a weather event. They can also be used to teach vocabulary and world languages, as well as for storytelling to improve writing skills and public speaking.

How can Smart Scenes be used to teach vocabulary and world languages?

Smart Scenes are perfect for teaching vocabulary related to the time of day, seasons, weather, clothing, and conversation. By customizing scenes with different weather conditions, students can learn new vocabulary and put it into context.

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