Filmmaking — Stop-Motion to Bring Curriculum to Life

By Megan Power on February 28, 2011

Stop-motion has long been used to entertain children and adults on television and in the movies. Think back to Gumby or the cute Christmas specials, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and The Year Without a Santa Claus. All of those were done by using the stop-motion technique of filming. This year my kindergarten class has been interested in stop-motion. We are currently in the process of creating a stop-motion movie to learn about plants using candy. Click to read more about stop-motion and see some student examples of how this exciting filmmaking technique can be used in the classroom.


What Is Stop-Motion?

Stop-motion is a type of filmmaking that takes ordinarily inanimate objects and animates them. How, you may ask? By taking a digital photo, slightly moving the object, and then taking another photo. After continuing this process and putting all the photos together, your objects will appear to move right in front of your eyes! You may be more familiar with claymation, which is the same technique of filming, but uses clay to create objects. Read more about stop-motion in Wikipedia.

Take a quick peek at a clip from my kindergarten class’ candy tree stop-motion video:

The students were able to work together to finish all the photos to grow an apple tree and go through the seasons in one school day. This technique was a perfect way to have students show the small changes that happen over a period of time when growing a tree as well as the changes a tree goes through each season. We are excited to continue work on this video and post it when we are ready.

IMG_0650

What You Need to Do Stop-Motion in Your Classroom

Stop-motion is an engaging type of filmmaking that really doesn’t need much. If you have a digital camera or Webcam, a computer, some objects to animate, and software, you can start creating. You are able to use any filmmaking software including FREE ones such as Movie Maker and iMovie. Some other great software for stop-motion are Pinnacle Studio 14 (includes a great new stop-motion feature) and Frames by Tech4Learning. My class is currently using both programs, but the videos in this blog post are made with Pinnacle Studio 14.

Suggestions for Using Stop-Motion or Claymation in the Classroom

As my students started experimenting more with stop-motion, we came up with many ways this technique could be used in the classroom. We are actually thinking of rearranging our classroom to keep the stop-motion center set up so the students could use it for many other projects.

Take a look at this math addition story a few of my students created:

Here are a few other great uses of stop-motion:

  • Retell a story
  • Reenact a historical moment
  • Bring student writing to life with biography projects
  • Math word problem solving
  • Math computation demonstrations
  • Show science experiments and science concepts, for example, the water cycle
  • Practice a foreign language

IMG_0658

 

A Final Reflection About Filmmaking With Students

Students learn so much from any type of filmmaking. It is inspiring to see how even your most distracted kid or struggling student will be so involved in the production. Even at a young age students are able to create amazing work when given the chance. They learn to collaborate and be creative. Along with all of the content areas that your movie is addressing comes a lot more social and academic learning that you might not expect, but will be delighted to see. Remember to let the students lead and take responsibility for their film. With a little guidance and patience, not only will you have an amazing movie, but you will have caring, motivated, and creative students with a strong grasp of the academic content.

Take a look at these resources for some ideas and video clips from students:

12 Frames Per Second, Film Education, An article about stop-motion in the classroom, iCreate to Educate, Animation for Education

If you are using stop-motion or claymation in your classroom or you would like to give it a try, we would love to hear from you!

Download CameraMountInst to get materials and instructions created by Evan Foote to make our stop-motion Webcam stand. It costs about $18 to create!

IMG_0656

Comments

April, I hope you had a chance to look at my series of posts on filmmaking with students. Even at the young age in kindergarten, students can create great movies with amazing learning. The learning that takes place when making a movie is unbelievable! Please let me know if you need any assistance! Smiles, Megan

Jenny, I have just attached the directions to the bottom of the post. Thanks for the reminder!!! Smiles, Megan

Has Evan been able to get your the directions for the PVC pipe stop motion frame yet? I am eager to create one for my classroom use. Thank you.

Thank you so much for this blog!! I love it. I too teach kindergarten and would love to start incorporating movies into the instruction. I look forward to learning more about how you do it.

Monica, Thank you for the comment and the link. I have started looking at your blog and I am excited to start following it! Smiles, Megan

Joy, Thank you! We are loving stop motion as well. My students and I keep coming up with so many ways to use it in the classroom. We are now going to move the setup to be more perminate in my classroom. Because of your comment I have started a series on how to create video with students. Each week I will take you through some steps to assist you in your classroom. Please continue to check back and let me know any questions. The webcam is attached to the PVC pipe. My wonderful friend Evan Foote, who created this for me, is writing up directions with measurements and photos to show how to build one. I will go into student involvement in several of the posts further, but here is a quick answer. For bigger movies students select a section to work on. Within each section each student has a job- director, cinematographer, movers. They need to work together and each job is extremely important. I have video of students doing this that I will be sharing soon. Smiles, Megan

I love your blog. I really an inspired to use technology and I love the ideas on you blog. One way I have been exploring technology is I have just started my first blog at http://schroederpage.blogspot.com/ I am doing a give away would love it if you would follow me. I also have launched a teacher resource webiste at www.theschroederpage.com There is also a link to my blog there and a write up about me on www.teachlikearockstar.com. Thank you in advance for your support:)

I LOVE this!!! Thanks so much for sharing. Would you be able to explain more how the kids are involved? How do you include ALL the students in your class? Did you attach a camera to the PVC pipe? I would really like to implement this in my class before the end of the year. :) Thank you again for sharing! :)

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
top
RSS Subscribe ButtonSign up to get these great teaching ideas delivered automatically.Subscribe now >