A Complete Guide for Stop-Motion Animation in the Art Room

I was first inspired to explore stop-motion when I met influential art ed dude Mark Jones. He’s the genius behind some of the best stop-motion animation videos designed, written, and created by kids. I was lucky enough to see him at my state art ed conference a few years back. If you haven’t seen these videos – watch them before you go any further!

See more on Mr. Jones’ YouTube channel.

After seeing the potential, I asked myself: How do I do this with MY kids?

stop-motion animation

As with many great collaborations, I initially worked with one of my colleagues to bring this idea to fruition. Below are the documents and adaptations that have worked well in my classroom. Each year I tweak or change something to make the project more successful for my students. I encourage you to build on the foundation I’m providing here! Let’s go!

Teacher Prep

 

Note: Many of the resources listed are available for download further down in this post!

 

Below are the steps that you can take if you’d like to try this project with your students. Of course, this is just a starting point. Change and adapt these steps to fit your teaching style, timeline, and students.

1. Prepare a PowerPoint to introduce the project.

2. Choose a theme…or not.
Depending on your preference, you can narrow the topic to something such as “color theory” or “transformation.” But, keep in mind… some of the best videos have come from having no parameters at all!

3. Create a playlist of stop-motion video examples to show your students.
Use YouTube, Pinterest, or a bookmarks folder to help you organize!

4. Make and print worksheets to guide students through the process.

5. Make a list of what materials you will make available to students.
Consider everyday materials like markers, crayons, scissors, and glue. I also provide my students with poster board, construction paper, and modeling clay.

Modeling Clay

6. Develop groups of students with the classroom teachers.

7. Familiarize yourself with iMotion, and prepare a mini-lesson where you make a short video as a demo for your students.

8. Introduce and launch the project!

Student Prep

Student Prep

The worksheets I reference in the list below are grouped as a packet for downloading. I recommend printing off a large number of each page. Each student and group will use a varying number of these worksheets throughout the unit. I have my students check in with me after each step so that I can ensure that they are on track. Before they can start to build their sets, they pitch me their movie idea! This step makes for a fun check-point.

Here are my students’ steps throughout the project.

  1. Brainstorm stories individually
  2. Brainstorm stories in groups
  3. Come up with a story as a group and propose it to me
  4. Build sets and props
  5. Shoot movie
  6. Finalize and export
  7. Share with others
  8. Fill out rubric

 

Helpful Hints

 

Doing stop-motion in the art room is a big undertaking. Here are a few helpful hints I’ve learned over the years.

1. Keep your students on track with a PowerPoint slide featuring the daily goal.

2. Make room to store the extra materials you will have, and create, with this project.

3. Check out Nic Hahn’s unbelievably amazing posts about technology and animation on her blog Mini Matisse for inspiration.

4. Be prepared to keep some groups more on track than others.

5. Have an iMotion exploration day so students can familiarize themselves with the app and the stop-motion process.

6. This year, we chose to do movie awards. It was a fun addition to the process. Students were able to practice their critiquing skills and recognize each other’s work.

 

Downloads/Resources

 

Prepping the students and keeping them on track are keys to this project’s success. Below are 3 resources I’ve created to help. I hope they work in your room as well!

1. Power Point Presentation
You can download the PowerPoint presentation that I use to introduce the lesson by clicking the image below. It contains a brief overview of stop-motion animation, key vocabulary and more!

Click to download free Power Point!
Click to download free PowerPoint!

2. Packet
Here is a packet that includes worksheets, storyboard tools, and rubrics. Download away!

Click to download free stop-motion packet!
Click to download free stop-motion packet!

3. Stop-Motion Animation Examples

Below is a list of my favorite stop-motion examples to show my class. As always, preview them yourself to determine if they are appropriate for your students. Keep an eye on YouTube’s sidebars as well.

As with any project, it is most successful when you make it your own and adapt it for your students’ needs and interests. Please feel free to use and adjust the documents I’ve included to implement your own stop-motion animation unit. Students get extremely excited about this unit. So much so, that many begin to make these animations outside of the art room. Encourage them to share these. Who knows? Maybe you’re teaching the next Walt Disney!

Do you do animation with your students? What are YOUR helpful hints?

What videos would you add to the list of examples? Do you have any of your students’ videos to share?!

 

Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek

Alecia is an elementary art teacher in central Iowa who is passionate about teaching and reaching her students with an innovative and meaningful arts education.

Related

  • Becky Smiley

    Wow! Thanks for sharing, Alecia! This will be incredibly helpful to plan for next year.

  • Michelle Melendez

    THANK YOU for sharing Alecia!!!!!

  • Dorinda Gifford

    This is so helpful and just what I need for next year. Thank you for sharing!

  • Mr. Post

    My favorite stop motion videos are by PES on YouTube. My elementary students love seeing these.. I use a Firefox add on to download the videos from YouTube, then burn them onto a DVD to show at school. That way they play one after another without me having to fiddle around finding them on the internet.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWEl8-PHhMI
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNJdJIwCF_Y
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBjLW5_dGAM

    • Alecia Eggers

      That’s a fantastic solution Mr. Post! Thanks for sharing :) (I’m looking forward to your presentation at the AOE conference!!)

  • Julieshields

    I did an animation project with my 8th graders last year using iMotion and found it to not be user friendly. For example, if the students got up to slide 14 and realized they needed to add a slide between slides 8 and 9, they had to erase all the slides down to slide 8 then add the new slide and re-do all the other slides. Also, they couldn’t edit the slides (crop for example). And, finally, most of them did their project on their iphones and when they sent it to my computer (via email) I couldn’t open the file! Am I missing something because I would LOVE to do this project again, but I really would like to avoid the frustration of it

    • Alecia Eggers

      I agree Julie. I struggle with not being able to zoom in and crop the videos, but encouraged my students to work with it the best they could. iMotion isn’t editing friendly. I did find we were able to delete individual frames once they were shot, but I don’t know if the full version would allow you to go back in and add more frames? I’m interested to see what others use. I think Nic Hahn mentioned just using a basic app called stop-motion? Maybe that would be better, I might have to try that out! If you hear of another app, let me know too!

  • ElizTownsend

    This project will get me up to speed with State requirements in art!

  • Dawn Ellison

    Approximately how long would a unit like this take? I know depending on how long the movie would be also determines the length of the task so let’s say for a 2 minute movie with beginning students. My second question would be where do you store all of this while you are having other classes, my classroom is already a tight squeeze? I suppose it would be ideal to have it set up in an area where it doesn’t have to be moved?

    • Alecia Eggers

      Hi Dawn, It took us about 8 – 1 hour long class periods. My classes were a little pokier working this year though. I encourage them to do around 300 frames and that usually ends up being less than a minute. Anne’s comment above can give you a little more information if you’re looking for something longer! As far as storage, I stored their flat scenes on my drying rack, smaller 3-D items in gallon ice cream buckets with their group names on them, and then found out of the way places for the 3-D sets. I really encouraged them to do flat scenes and shoot from above to cut down on major set building. I would also look at larger, whole class stop-motion collaborative projects where everyone is assigned a small task. For my fine arts day last year, each class and grade level helped to construct four different sets with coordinating characters (the circus, under the sea, robot dance party, and dots inspired by the book Press Here). On the actual fine arts day each class that rotated through was able to make and shoot a small scene. Because a long-term story wasn’t absolutely essential for any of these sets it was cool to see the little snippets that were made. Let me know if you have any other questions! :)

  • Anne Fry

    I taught an art and animation class last year to my 8th graders. It was a semester long class. First the students made Thaumatropes next they made flip books with a minimum of 50 illustrations. For the rest of the semester working in groups of two they made a stop motion film lasting at least a minute in length. The students needed approximately 700 pictures. They were required to have title’s and credits. They used freeplay music .com for a minimum of 3 music pieces. The results were really great! We used digital cameras, tripods and Microsoft movie maker. The most challenging issue were the cameras and tripods. I didn’t purchase very expensive equipment since I retired this year after 35 years as the Art Goddess!
    One of the favorite stop motion films in addition to the PES films is Marsell the Shell.
    Next year I am teaching college Ed students a tech for teachers class.

    • Alecia Eggers

      Wow Anne! Thank you for the awesome information! I bet you students absolutely loved that class!

  • Katherina Ann

    i love teaching stop motion!
    http://animationchefs.com/ has easy to follow “recipes” for certain techniques

    • Alecia Eggers

      Thank you for sharing that resource Katherina! :)

  • Paige Young

    What an AWESOME resource! I cant wait to try this. I think I will do a unit with my 7-8th graders come fall!

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  • Denise Tanaka

    Just ran across this-perfect! Will adapt for a mini-lesson. Thanks SO much for the resources!

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  • Tracey

    Thanks so much for your generosity in sharing these great resources! They are superb.

  • Tracey

    Just finished adapting these great resources for our own literacy project. Thanks again. They can be seen here: http://activeliteracy.global2.vic.edu.au/digital-tools/multimedia-presentations/
    Cheers

  • Anne O’Connor

    thank you for posting this great info. I was wondering how many devices (tablets, phones/cameras) you needed to divide among the class. I would like to do this with an after-school club, so I might have roughly 12 students. Should each group have a device available so they can shoot frames whenever they’re ready?