Stop Motion Animation

How to get started

Why stop motion animation in K-12 education?

First, what is stop motion animation? Students take lots of photographs of an object and then smush them together to make it seem as if it is moving. Check out this wikipedia article for a much better description.

- marries the Arts with Technology
- demands character traits/life skills/lifelines ...patience, perseverance, and problem solving to name a few
- The Maker Movement, see Invent To Learn book
- it is fun! A satisfying end product to entertain family and friends

"There is no reason why student products cannot be both cute and good." (Invent to Learn, Martinez & Stager, 2013)

Two articles:
Why Use Stop-Motion Animation on iPad for Education?
KQED Education blog - Stop Motion in the Elementary Classroom


Good bet for Apple devices - Stop Motion Studio
- up to 30 slides per second.
- FREE to get started, in-app purchases available
  1. Feature Pack $3.99
  2. Import Images $0.99
  3. Green Screen $0.99
  4. Movie Themes $0.99
  5. Sound Effects $0.99
  6. Paint $0.99
  7. Remote Camera $0.99
  8. Movie Effects $0.99

Good bet for Android devices - Clayframes
Lite version, FREE
Regular version, $2.99

iPhone/Android phone v. iPad
"You can film inside a mini-pirate ship with an iPhone." - Ben J., Grade 7, Riverside Junior High School

For advanced animators:
Computer laptop + DragonFrame


To animate:
- Legos, Hot Wheels, Polly Pockets, Barbies, Happy Meal toys, Scholastic Book Fair doodads, stuff in junk drawer... possibilities are endless!
- play-doh or modeling clay, be sure to check Michael's coupon in Sunday paper

- tripod or camera stand
- bright green fabric for green screen, available at Walmart
- bright green poster board for green screen, available at Dollar Store
- cotton balls for dust/smoke
- plastic wrap for water
- orange and red cellophane & flashlight for fire
- fake turf for grass, available at train or hobby store
- thin fishing line
- googly eyes
- basic school & office supplies: scissors, tape, glue, ruler, pencils, pens, markers

Mentor videos

Most students will need to see examples to get their creative juices flowing.
Here is an ideal place to start. Videos created by Klutz for the

The Klutz Book of Animation: Make Your Own Stop Motion Movies

Warning: YouTube is a great place to look for other stop motion animation videos for inspiration, but beware that you should first preview for inappropriate content. I learned this the hard way!

Nitro Warriors: A Stop Motion Animated Film


  • Keep teacher talk to less than 10 minutes
  • Gather everyone on carpet or at table; No devices in student hands
  • Model good stop motion animation photography
  • Model bad stop motion animation photography
  • Discuss problem solving activities (trial and error, peer help)
  • Review project agenda; Set end time for work session

Sharing with an authentic audience

- Project onto big screen using AirPlay on device with AppleTV
- Upload to Seesaw
- Upload directly to YouTube (Category: Education/Unlisted)

Tip: if multiple students are making stop motion animation videos in one classroom, pull together into a YouTube playlist

Advice from experience

- Not ideal for group work, honor student desire to work independently
- If students insist on working as partners, they should have similar work ethic and skill level
- To storyboard or not to storyboard? I say no
- Instead of storyboarding, have students write a one sentence objective -- think tweet or premise line
- Establish firm deadlines
- I am a big fan of one shot deals when creating technology-based products -- think ONE (1-3) hour work session; It is difficult to recreate scenes when working across several days
- Play doh/modeling clay is HARD to use
- Avoid using stuffed animals or beanie babies in videos
- Avoid using humans in videos

Kristin Patrick, MLIS

Special thank you to 7th grade student Ben J. at Riverside Junior High School for teaching me about stop motion animation. He also let me borrow his Legos.