Animation in the Classroom
Artful Artsy Amy artfulartsyamy.blogspot.com
Animation in the classroom is a ton of fun; kids really, really, really love it. . .But, it can also be a strain on educators
because most of us didn’t live in a world wherein animation in the classroom was an option when we were in school (or
even college). I am, by no means, an expert. I learned how to teach animation in the classroom by, uh, trying to teach
animation in the classroom.
While most teachers rely on Apple products when teaching animation in the classroom, I do not. It isn’t that I have any
issue with Apple products (they’re awesome), but my students and I do not have regular access to Apple products. So,
rather than trying to rely upon technology I can’t access (at best I could have one iPad per 30 kids), I teach my kids using
free technologies that they can utilize outside of my classroom too.
I should also put a plug here for grants. I’ve won a few grants, and they make a huge difference in my classroom. I’ve
used grants to purchase cameras and other materials for stop-motion animation. As educators, we sometimes think “too
big.” I haven’t purchased any iPads because I haven’t won a grant big enough to purchase the number of iPads I want.
But, one Art teacher I know goes after small grants and purchases iPads one-two at a time. She is wrapping up the final
grant she needs to purchase the remaining iPads necessary for her class to be a 1:1 classroom. That’s a pretty smart
I’ve also noticed that most animation apps do most of the animation work for students. Again, there is nothing
fundamentally wrong with this. In fact, for an elementary classroom, this is ideal. But, I want my students to understand
how animation works and the history of animation. . . So, while some of my methods take a bit longer I would like to
think the learning may be more meaningful.
Origins of Animation (originsofanimation.wikispaces.com)
Waay back in the when, I made a wiki (remember when those were the thing?) about teaching stop-motion animation in
the classroom. This wiki is designed to help users who are going through the steps of traditional Claymation wherein you
take a still photo, move an object, take another photo, and you use computer software to edit and publish the
animation. It has a downloadable slideshare presentation about the History of Animation, and lessons on making a
thaumatrope, a flipbook, a storyboard, characters for stop-motion animation, backdrops for stop-motion animation,
sourcing music for animations, editing an animation, and publishing an animation. I still use the wiki when I teach my
animation units because there is still great information. You don’t have to go all the way through making a thaumatrope
to begin; an excellent starting place is going from the History of Animation and moving on towards making a storyboard
etc. etc. Below, are a few links to some of the Claymation works my students have created:
Below, is a list of the technology I use for teaching stop-motion animation/Claymation in the classroom. The Origins of
Animation Wiki has how-to’s and downloadable PDFs about all of the technology:
1. Digital cameras
2. PC computers
3. Windows Live Movie Maker (free on a PC)
Go Animate! (www.goanimate.com)
GoAnimate is a website that helps you make animations. It is an intuitive site, and users have the choice of selecting pre-
made characters and sets and/or assembling your own through a series of guided steps (kids love the customization
aspect!). I love this website because it really helps students to understand the frames-per-minute concept of animation
through its easy-to-use story board. Below, is a link to an animation I made awhile back.
1. My animation: http://tinyurl.com/mszanimation
2. Here is a video some of my students made in their 1st
5 minutes of playing with GoAnimate:
3. List of excellent GoAnimate tutorials (including making a game): http://tinyurl.com/goanimatetutorials
4. Here is a great slideshow about getting started with GoAnimate: http://tinyurl.com/startgoanimate
Voki is a great website wherein users can make small, animated, website/blog-embeddable avatars. If you visit the
Origins of Animation wiki, you’ll notice a Voki I made. Students can make their own Vokis. . .But it is more fun to
incorporate other ideas. For instance, I once had students research a famous artist and then make a Voki of that artist.
Student recorded themselves speaking as the artist and uploaded it to a pre-decided website. Teachers can make Vokis
for sharing information on their blogs and websites too.
Scratch is the end-result of a project by some very talented MIT students. These students decided that K-12 students
needed to have the opportunity to learn more about code, or the language of websites. Scatch is a fun, free, program
wherein students can create animations, games, etc. etc. The best way to learn Scratch (which can seem a little
overwhelming to teachers) is to just jump right in. Below, are some links to great Scratch tutorials:
1. General tutorials on basic aspects: http://info.scratch.mit.edu/Video_Tutorials
2. Free online Scratch course: http://learnscratch.org/video-courses/scratch-1
3. Build a Pac-Man like game: http://scratched.media.mit.edu/sites/default/files/PacMan%20Lesson.pdf
4. Making a simple game: http://www.digitalartforall.com/790/scratch-making-a-simple-game/
5. The first thing I made in Scratch: http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/2512696/
Gifs are small, soundless, animations using the Bitmap color scale. Gifs can be made from pictures using an online gif
animator, or through Adobe Photoshop, or through using GIMP.
Here are some excellent GIF artists:
Here are some tips on how to make more advanced gifs:
1. intro-to-gif-animation project I do with my students (best for 2-3 frame looping animations):
2. Using Gimp to make multi-frame animations: http://tinyurl.com/gifgimp5
3. Using Photoshop to make multi-frame animations: http://tinyurl.com/photoshopgif5
Animation Teaching Masters
These teachers are true masters at incorporating digital art into the classroom, but they also blog about teaching
traditional art too. Try searching their blogs/sites for words like “digital,” “animation” and “iPad” to see what they are up
to digital-art wise.
1. Elementary School: http://drydenart.weebly.com/
2. High School (but adaptable to Middle School): http://apexhsart.blogspot.com/