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Student artifact: Stop animation is easy!

By Andra Brichacek
August 16, 2014
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Stop-animation movies hold a special place in many educators' memories. Who can forget "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or "Gumby and Pokey "?

Video creation technology has changed a lot since those childhood classics first aired. But stop animation, also known as stop-motion video, is a timeless medium that's simple and straightforward enough for even elementary school students to master.

To make a stop animation, you use software to stitch together several still photos of stationary objects anything from the familiar clay sculptures to toys and even drawings. Each frame marks a progression of the objects' incremental movements that, when combined, create an uninterrupted video. The result is usually an engaging mashup that allows the filmmaker to tackle imaginative themes, much like cartoon animations, but without the need for advanced artistic or animation skills.

It might seem like creating a stop animation with students would still be a daunting task that would take hours or even days to complete. Not so, says Stephanie Hinshaw Hatten, an elementary technology instructional specialist who has been using stop animation projects in elementary school classrooms for more than a decade.

" "The medium is surprisingly easy to master and allows young students flexibility and creativity that would be much more difficult to achieve in video," " she said. " "For example, they can draw illustrations or use toys, Legos, manipulatives or household objects such as cotton balls to represent abstract concepts, like molecules or equations, that would be difficult for them to depict in a regular video." "

According to Hinshaw Hatten, with a little practice, even young kids can make stop animations to express their learning, in subjects ranging from science to language arts, in a single class period.

Check out this stop animation that Sara, a ninth grader, created in about an hour to help younger students learn how to master the medium on their own.

Andra Brichacek is ISTE's senior editor. She has worked as a content creator and editor for nearly two decades. You can contact her at and follow her on Twitter at @andramere .

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