Although the GIF format itself was not designed as an animation medium, its ability to store multiple images in a single file naturally lent itself to storing the frames in an animation sequence. 

GIFS have been with us for a long time but have become very popular over the last few years and are used extensively on social media - often as humorous or satirical memes. Nevertheless they can be used in other ways - for example; to analyse changes over time, show movement, or illustrate a process or moving parts as infographics.

It is important to note that GIFs do not support audio. You can of course add a gif to video editing software timeline then add an audio track and save it as a looping movie,

Source Material
Old film footage can provide some excellent original source material. Check out these links 
There are plenty of tools and apps that allow you to create them ranging from professional image and video editing software, to apps for mobile devices, and web based tools, many of which are fee to use.

Possible Learning Activities & Outcomes
Such activities are great for
  • Multimedia and video editing skills
  • Data and research skills
  • Animation and visualisation
  • Visual communication skills
  • Information Design

some examples….. click for larger view