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February 28, 2011 Filmmaking — Stop-Motion to Bring Curriculum to Life By Megan Power

    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.


    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



    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!



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