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May 27, 2011 Your Kids Can Do It: Quick, Free, and Easy Stop-Motion Videos By Angela Bunyi
Grades 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Today is not only my last day of teaching, but also my last day posting on Top Teaching for this school year. For my last post, I would like to share a fun classroom activity. As our year wrapped up, my students took some time to become more familiar with stop-motion animation. Using a free program, we were able to create stop-motion videos from start to finish in fewer than thirty minutes — and jazzed-up versions in less than an hour. With videos featuring Mother's Day messages, Harry Potter in LEGOs, and a demonstration of a llama's digestive system, this post will help wrap up the year in a fun and engaging manner. 

    You CAN Make Stop-Motion Videos Within an Hour

    My teaching friend, Elizabeth Shepard, introduced me to FrameByFrame before teaching an enrichment cluster in our room. I am glad she did. This program makes stop-motion animation a possibility for every student. Our class downloaded the program, and with directions, they were independently making a stop-motion video ten minutes later. So, what makes it so easy? FrameByFrame has two nice features: it utilizes your built-in Web camera and shows two screens so you can see the shadow of the last photo taken. After completing a check online, I found several other free PC versions as well. Take a look and find one that works for you. 

    Frame by Frame is so easy, I couldn't find a tutorial online. I created one with my cat Mason, but had some technical difficulties uploading it. The site had this to say on the directions:

    FrameByFrame lets you create stop-motion animation videos using any webcam/video camera connected to your Mac, including iSight. Just take some pictures and in a matter of seconds you‘ve got your very own stop-motion QuickTime movie!


    Directions: Simply open up the program and take photos using the camera icon. The right screen shows a constant shadow of the last photo taken for placement help.

    To view your video, make sure to click on the first photo. You can adjust the speed (frames per second) to your liking. Most of my students settled on 7 frames/photos per second. This would mean a 30 second video would require 210 photos. 

    Once you are happy with your collection, hit save before clicking on export. The export button provides you a large variety of saving options. If you are a Mac user, I prefer MPEG4 for editing in iMovie. An additional ten minutes in iMovie can provide some audio support, titles, and organization.

    It's really that easy.

    Let's Make a Stop-Motion Video: Quick, Free, Easy

    Here are just a few stop-motion videos made by my students recently. I have examples that utilize clay, LEGOs, paper, toys, soda taps, pencils . . . nearly anything and everything. One idea my students seemed to enjoy was taking pictures as a letter was written. A few did this as a nontraditional Mother's Day present. As a mother, I would be delighted to receive something as sweet as the clip below:


    Here are a few more . . .

    An Example Using Sound Effects, Toy Cars, and LEGOs

    An Educational Example (I Think) Using Paper

    A Humorous Version of Harry Potter Using LEGOs


    It's Time to Celebrate

    After allowing time for students to "play" and create a stop-motion video of their own, it was time to shine. With a quick upload to my desktop, I created a movie trailer to build some excitement about our finished products: 

    Of course, this was followed by an official viewing party. When we finished watching the videos, I asked students how many were seriously interested in continuing with stop-motion videos during the summer. Every single hand went up. I think that's pretty impressive. Next year, I plan to incorporate them in a more educational manner. Below are the great resources that will help with that process.

    Stop-Motion Sites Geared for Students

    Klutz Animation

    Klutz offers an amazing set of videos, geared for students, to generate some stop-motion ideas. Every single video is worth watching and will get your kids excited about the possibilities.

    SAM Animation/iCreate to Educate (Hosted Together)


    What I like about SAM Animation and iCreate to Educate more than anything is how they tie an educational value to stop-motion animation. My ultimate goal is to utilize stop-motion the way the videos above do. One of my students really enjoyed the cow clip on the digestive system and created one on her favorite animal in the world, a llama. 

    Just think about the possibilities! 

    Megan Power's Stop-Motion Directions

    Our very own Megan Power from Top Teaching created a post about bringing stop-motion to life in her classroom. I recommend this as your final destination. Megan has done an amazing job working with kindergartners, and it just goes to show that stop-motion animation IS feasible for all students. 


    Have a Great Summer!

    So, this is it for me. By the time you read this, I'll probably be at Disney World. 

    It has been a pleasure posting here for the past three years, and I am delighted to say that I am coming back for a fourth year with Scholastic. Look for some new posts and ideas here next August!

    In the meantime, feel free to visit our site anytime!



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