Animation projects can be a fun way to develop multiple new skills and to help kids learn to navigate some important types of software. My daughter took a stop motion animation class last semester, and it was great to see her creativity merge with new technical skills that will benefit her in the future. The book her class used for the semester is Nate Eckerson’s Stopmotion Explosion which is a great guide to the art of stop-motion animation.
Getting Started with GoAnimate
For the first few classes, the students spent the majority of their time using GoAnimate.com. This site greatly assists in creating quick simple projects to help the kids work on the process of creating a story and some very basic animation using backgrounds and characters available on the site. The student writes the script for the cartoon and chooses the computer voice for each character.
This is a good place to get started, but the scope is limited on what the student can create. The great benefit of the site is that it is very fast to flesh out an idea and see the idea in action. Kids can create almost as quickly as the ideas come to them. This is not a free site and there is a cost to subscribe, although they do have a 14 day free trial. For my daughter’s class, the teacher had a paid subscription for her class.
Moving on to More Advanced Animation Projects
After a few classes using GoAnimate, the class used a couple of different apps to practice taking pictures and import these into quick animation projects. There are a number of free apps like this for Widows, Android, and IOS. These are all very similar and the goal is to build up practice with one of these just until the kids are comfortable enough to move on to bigger projects. At this point the kids should be getting a feel for how many pictures to take to build a smooth animation. They should be learning the importance of keeping the camera and background objects in the same position and the timing to match their animations to audio.
Once the students were comfortable with the core concepts, they were assigned a final project to be assembled in Windows Movie Maker with the audio edited in Wavepad Sound Editor.
My daughter really enjoyed this process, but there were some difficult points. The biggest challenge was that she was not used to the planning required to shoot a longer animation video. The final time for her video is 2.5 minutes, but it takes a huge number of pictures to fill that time. She started shooting and was pretty far along when she realized she was feeling pretty overwhelmed. At this point, I was able to talk to her about the idea of drawing a story board with a clear outline. This was a very helpful tool to move forward, but she did have to throw out a large part of her early work because it wasn’t following a clear plan. I think this lesson is huge for her though since it applies to many large scale projects in general.
Behold her finished product below. I do need to give a quick disclaimer here. The assignment was to contrast her view of public schooling vs. home schooling. She had a bit of fun with this, but in no way are these meant to depict either homeschooling or public schooling accurately at all. It’s a comedy – hope you enjoy!
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