Another report? A test again? Essay questions? I can’t handle anymore!!!

Sound familiar? The scariest part of it all is this is often what the teacher is thinking, not just the student. There are alternatives to “the old stand-by” methods we use every day, every year…forever. One of these methods is claymation.

Claymation, or stop motion animation, is a process by which students use props and digital cameras to create a movie explaining a topic of study you have been covering in your class. Mr. Bill videos, Chicken Run, and Wallace and Gromit are some examples you may have run across sometime in your lives.

The process is quite simple, really. Let’s take the life cycle of a mealworm, for example. A set, or background, is created. Students then create props using clay, paper or other supplies that can be manipulated one tiny-bit at a time. A digital camera is set up on a tripod so it remains stationary for all shots. After taking the first picture, students move their props very slightly (a fraction of an inch) and then take another picture. This process is repeated over and over until the concept is complete. In the example we are using, you start off with a mealworm and then move through all the stages of its life cycle until it becomes a beetle.

When students have finished taking all your pictures, upload the pictures to your computer and then insert them into Movie Maker. By setting the duration of the pictures to a fraction of a second, the pictures appear so quickly one after another that the props appear to be moving. Here is an example done cooperatively by Ms. Dybala’s second graders:

The Water Cycle: A Second Grade View

Don’t be shy when taking your pictures. It takes a lot of them (75 or more) to create even a short video.  Ready to get started using Movie Maker to create your stop motion animated movie?

CLICK HERE to view the Stop Motion Animation + Movie Maker Cheatsheet. 

What’s great about assessing learning through animation is that once the videos are created, they can be used not only this year but in years to come as an introduction or review of a topic in your classroom. Most people automatically think of only Science topics to do with this, but animation can be used to assess learning in any subject area. Re-create the battle of the Alamo, show simple addition or subtraction facts, or breath new life to any “how to.” The possibilities are endless. What are some concepts you teach that would be great for a claymation video?

Tired of the same old, same old? Give claymation a shot!

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