For years I have been teaching stop motion animation to both primary and secondary aged pupils and in that time I have seen numerous benefits in it expanding the inspirational and creative levels of children, as they explore and create characters, scenarios and worlds of their own design. With just a pack of plasticine and an iPad, a child can create anything. So when my placement school decided to run a pirate themed day, based upon pirate literature, I knew stop motion animation would be the perfect tool for inspiring and creating pirate worlds.
With five activities planned across the day, the children would only have 50 minutes per rotation, which for stop motion is difficult but not impossible.
Using the University of Northampton’s iPads and the app iStopmotion, the children would be given a pre-made set and a selection of coloured plastercine, with which they could then use to create a short stop motion animation. What animation the children produced was completely up to them as long as it was about pirates! And of course appropriate for their mums’ to watch.
The structure of the lesson was simple, as the children entered the room (usually with an echo of ‘Wow new iPads….look playdoh!’, they would then sit in pairs at an iPad. At this point I was able to introduce the concept of what the children would be doing, asking for famous examples of stop motion animations along the way (Shaun the Sheep, Wallace and Gromit, Coraline etc..), followed by a quick tutorial on how to use the iPads to create amazing cool animations.
By the point I reached the tutorial the children were so engaged with the concept of the lesson, and the fact they would be making their own short films, they were willing to take on all the advice I had about animation. This allowed me to cover many potential hiccups they would undoubtedly come across within the first 30 seconds of starting their animation productions, such as:
1.Moving the iPad instead of the character.
2.Moving the character too much in one movement.
3.Building a character that can’t stand up.
4.Accidentally taking a photo of someones hand.
5.Accidentally turning off the application altogether.
Obviously, many of the children still had these minor hiccups but because I was able to model how to safely escape the problem within the introduction, none of the children panicked and quickly asked me for help when they made mistakes. Which, they were then able to learn from quickly, becoming more independent and self sufficient animators and filmmakers as a result.
I made a short chronicle of the day, which can be seen below: