Monday, May 14, 2012

Stop Animation in the Classroom: Project Based Learning Perfection

Creating simple stop animation videos in the classroom is just that, simple.  All you need is a computer, webcam, and some free software.  If you have an iPad or iPod touch, it can be even easier.

Think back to your own primary education.  For me, I have vague memories of actual instruction, but I can recall in great detail the projects.  I loved dioramas, poster board, clay, and crayons.  Children, by nature want to create with their hands, to bring their imagination to life. 

Should we be shocked my childhood experience?   Absolutely not.  When Bloom's Taxonomy was revised and then released during my first year in the classroom I was like, "now this make sense."  Creation is special and when done correctly can have a lasting effect on your students.

Thanks to advances in technology, much of this creation can now occur virtually.  In my opinion, a solid digital creation evokes the same kind of experience as its physical counterpart and when
a student produced stop animation film of  >3 mins can be filmed in a 90 minute block; what's stopping you? 

The Software

*Jelly Cam - My top pick.  An Adobe Air program created by the brilliant Chris Bennett in his spare time.  Already in its 4th update, it allows for filming, editing, and audio, all to be done in one place.   While Chris offers video directions, it is my opinion that any student with even rudimentary computer skills can click his or her way through making a film with this program.

Helium Frog - For those feeling a bit more adventurous, this free Windows program has some of the most advanced features I have seen in any animation software. Check out this online guide, you will need it;)

Pivot Stick Animator - This is a stand alone Windows program where the students can create a stop animation movie with stick figures. It would be a good place to start because it simple and it can help them develop an understanding of frames.

Stop Motion Recorder - While several stop animation apps exist for iOS, I personally have hours of hands on time with this one and feel comfortable recommending it.  Feeling adventurous? Here is a list of 7 others.


Having your students storyboard a video before they start shooting is perhaps the most essential step.  It is comparable to  mind mapping or rough drafts in the writing world.  Here are some free printable templates to get you going.

Music and Sound Effects

Free Sound Project (the single best place to find random sound effects) You will need to login to download. Registration is free. Use the Search link on the left of the home page to search for sound effects.

Soungle is a free site that allows users to easily find and search sound effects and musical instruments samples along our huge online library.

Freeplay Music  and Jamendo are both excellent resources for finding copyright friendly music on the web.


A simple webcam will do.  Many can be picked up at Walmart for under $20.   I have bought a number of webcams off ebay for large class projects.  I have been luck enough in the past to purchase recently off lease webcams on ebay for as little as $2 each, shipped!  Simply search "webcam lot" on ebay and wait for the right deal.  Most are plug and play.

*One added bonus to having webcams in the classroom...Use your webcam to scan QR Codes online, in browser with  Did someone say QR Code Scavenger hunt?


Making Stopmotion Movies - This teacher created site provides step-by-step instructions for making stop-motion movies with your students.

Bob Greenberg - Blogmeister - Blog of a teacher who uses stop animation.

Brickfilms - an entire site dedicated to making stop animation movies with Legos

Just for fun, allow me to leave you with the worlds largest and smallest stop animation videos, both shot with a Nokia N8 phone!:


photo credit: StreetFly JZ, edtechworkshopvia photo pin cc


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