Animation ideas for the classroom

The idea of animating dates back as far as Palaeolithic times. Archaeologists have discovered cave paintings depicting animals with numerous sets of limbs – a possible attempt to symbolise motion. Unless animals were just a bit leggier back then.

These days, animation is universally accessible and primary schools can make great use of it, helping even young pupils produce impressive animations. Don’t believe us? Take a look at some of our favourite ideas and see how you can brighten up your science lessons by animating with your pupils.

Get Talking

With the power of animation, your pupils can watch Sir Isaac Newton describe how he turned a humble fruit into a piece of scientific equipment. Software like Crazy Talk lets you give still images animated facial features and a vocal track, creating a moving, talking picture. It’s a lot of fun and pupils learn about recording and animation, as well as basic physics. It’s not just for learners; teachers can create quick animations to use in lessons too.

Quick Tip
: More adventurous pupils can research ‘Preston Blair Phonemes’ to see how mouths make different shapes for each letter.

Scrub Up
There’s no need to roll up your sleeves; ‘scrubbing’ is the term used for fast forwarding with the clickwheel on an iPod. Budding animators have started creating virtual flipbooks that function through scrubbing instead of manual flipping. All your pupils need to do is upload a series of successive images so that when they scrub through them it looks like a moving sequence. It’s simple, quick and absolutely free. Get your class building an electrical circuit, taking pictures as they go, and they can create their own science scrubs!

Quick Tip: The best resolution for an iPod screen is 220 x 176 pixels – bear that in mind when your pupils are editing their pictures, otherwise the animation may look skewed.

Don’t Forget to Planet

The best way to learn about planetary orbit is to see it at work and, unless your school has the budget for a quick sojourn into the atmosphere, animation is perfect. Pupils can work together with clay or random objects to make the planets in 2D or 3D. The stop motion technique involves taking pictures of a scene, moving parts of it slightly, taking a picture, moving it and so on. Kudlian’s I Can Animate software includes an ‘onion skinning’ feature that lets you see how much the scene has changed since the last shot, so it’s great for young learners.

Quick Tip
: Pupils should draw out a storyboard before they start, so that they know where everything needs to be placed for each shot.

Watch Them Grow
Life cycles are often explored by looking at pictures, but what if pupils could watch the whole process from start to finish? By animating the changes between still images, your class can show transformations in a fraction of the actual time. Just define the two pictures as the start and end points in a shape transformation, and create a simple ‘inbetween’ transition using key frame animation. Young animators can see how much they’ve grown and changed over the past year or two by choosing a couple of pictures, one recent and one older, and watching the difference before their very eyes.

Quick Tip: Before they start transforming themselves, get your class using key frame animation to change circles into squares or suns into moons, so that they get an idea of how the software works.

If you’d like a hand getting started with animation projects in your science lessons, give our education experts a call on 03332 409 300 or emailĀ

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