Stop-motion animation for the classroom

Stop motion is an animation technique that gives the impression that real objects are moving on their own. The method is very simple; individual frames are shot with a camera, with the models being repositioned in small increments between shots. When played back quickly, it gives the impression of movement.

In the 1950s and 60s, stop motion became one of the most popular film techniques around, with the creation of the iconic monsters King Kong and T-Rex, and classic scenes like the Skeleton Army in ‘Jason and the Argonauts’. More recently, Claymation (the use of models made from plasticine or clay) has been used to create family favourites like ‘Wallace and Gromit’ and ‘Creature Comforts’. With the growing emphasis on using technology in primary education, animation presents a great opportunity to incorporate ICT in to the classroom.

Making original animated movies is a great way for your class to get creative. Pupils can produce a short animated synopsis of a chapter of a book they are reading for English or an animated explanation of how fractions work, to make those Maths lessons a little more engaging. The technique can be applied to virtually any subject across the national curriculum and the possibilities for its use in the classroom are endless.

As with the introduction of any new learning technique, there will be difficulties in getting young pupils started, but nothing that can’t be overcome with a little bit of determination.  The most obvious issue is that animation typically works on a small scale; getting a class of up to 30 excited pupils working on a single project could cause problems. Running multiple projects at once is a good way to combat this, but then there is the question of how to split teaching time between the groups. The help of classroom assistants is invaluable in this situation and will make it easier to monitor and guide simultaneous projects. Also, bear in mind that more animating teams will require more animating equipment, but don’t fret – the essentials are relatively inexpensive.

Confidence in using technology

Working with stop motion takes time, so holding the pupils’ concentration may be a struggle if they aren’t kept involved in the process. Most pupils, however, will show an amazing amount of focus given the opportunity. As well as gaining specific knowledge of how to animate, pupils learn basic ICT skills and become confident in using technology in every aspect of their learning. It’s a great way to build their teamwork skills because team members can be assigned different roles, which can then be rotated so that each pupil experiences every aspect of the process.

Perhaps the best thing about animation is that pupils learn so much without realising it. To them, the lesson is a fun way to create their own film, but they actually absorb a huge amount of information while they work. Animation takes a good deal of planning, often through storyboarding and group discussions, so pupils have to learn to be organised and methodical about their work, understand the subject matter well and be able to offer and take constructive criticism. It’s an engaging process that incorporates creativity, technological skills and teamwork, to produce unique creations and unforgettable lessons.

Maths + Animation: 1 second of film = 10 frames. Pupils can use this as a guideline to work out how many frames they need to shoot for their allotted time, for example: 3 seconds of finished film requires 30 frames

Our Top 5 Animation Tips:

1. Keep it simple – Don’t try ambitious models or backgrounds

2. Small movements – A little goes a long way; use the onion-skinning option to see where the last frame was placed.

3. Big features – Big eyes or ears on models are easy to move and animate, and show up well on film.

4. Plan carefully – Make a storyboard before you animate.

5. Assign roles – Modellers, clickers, spotters, movers; each student can be responsible for a task.


To find out more about stop motion animation, give us a call on 03332 409 300 or email us at For more news on technology in Education, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter and ‘Like’ Jigsaw Education’s Facebook page.

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