In the 1950s, Art Clokey created beloved claymation character Gumby and sidekick Pokey for a stop motion claymation television series that ran in the 50s and 60s. Since then, stop motion animation has made it to the big screen with movies like Wallace & Gromit and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Can this digital art form make it to the elementary classroom? The answer is an emphatic yes! Making a stop motion animation is now easier than ever. All it takes is a digital camera, simple art materials, and editing software such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. JellyCam by TicklyPictures.com is a free online stop motion maker that’s simple and easy to use. For the iPad, an app called myCreate by iCreate to Educate is a great starter for making stop motion animation.
One of the major reasons stop motion animation is worth trying with students is because it’s a lot of creative fun yet requires conceptual thinking. It’s “undercover learning” – students are so engaged they don’t know they’re learning. Planning the animation challenges students to visually lay out a scene frame by frame so the viewer understands the story or concept as it unfolds. Writing also becomes more meaningful since every animation starts with a script.
With stop motion, figurines, crafts, or any hands-on materials can be used to tell stories, recreate a historical event, or explain a science concept such as the life cycle of an organism or transformation of a solid to liquid to gas.
It’s a way for students to take full control of their learning and communicate a concept in an artistic way. It may not be for everyone since it takes time, patience, collaboration and hundreds of frame shots for a one-minute piece. But it may be the one multimedia project that makes a difference for the student who discovers the love for creating artistically and digitally.
Check out Pea Soup (time to get serious), one of the winning clips from Science Centre Singapore’s stop motion animation competition Scinemation 2011, and see how a team of students visually expressed climate change.