While my girls have been in a little bit of camp this summer, it’s mainly been Camp Mom for our family: local adventures, crafts, and lots and lots of unstructured play. We’re lucky to have some great neighbors with kids, and our girls have been lost in imaginative play that expands beyond the reach of anything I could possibly fabricate for them.
However, we’ve had a few mornings filled with creative projects and this stop motion animation project is a winner.
If you’re looking for a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) project, this is for YOU!
Stop Motion Animation, explained
To make it work, you place an object in front of a camera and snap a photo. You then move the object a tiny bit and snap another photo. Repeat this process twenty to ten thousand times, play back the sequence in rapid progression, and the object appears to move fluidly across the screen.
While my older daughter, age six, really flew with this project, her little sister who’s just two months shy of four also got in on the stop motion animation action. I’ll share their finished projects in just a moment. But first, let me show you just how simple this set up can be. Take this as a starting point and feel free to add your own flourishes.
Supplies for Stop Motion Animation
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- Two pieces of foam core
- Collection of objects to animate
- Smart phone, touchpad, or iPad. We used an iPad mini.
- Tripod or stand to hold your device steady
- Stop Motion Animation App. We used the FREE version of Stop Motion Studio by Cateater for iOS
- Set up a backdrop. This could be a wall or pice of foam core.
- Gather toys to include in your animation.
- Set up your touch pad or smart phone on a stand or tripod, across from the foam core.
- Start the Stop Motion Animation App and make your movie!
The Stop Motion Animation Set Up
As you can see, there’s nothing too fancy about the set up. While you could certainly add some elaborate lighting, we set this up by a window to keep it simple. I added the trash can behind the piece of foam core to keep it from falling over during filming. I know, super glamorous, right? Any heavy object should do the trick.
The kids had fun sorting through what we call the Character Basket for their just-right objects. My six-year old was up first, and my little one took it as an opportunity to play with cars and mini sheep while she waited her turn.
Using the stop motion app was really easy and intuitive. I did a demo run to show the kids how it worked, and then my six-year old took over and worked on her video for a solid half hour. When she was done, her little sister took over. I was surprised at how easy it was for her too.
Easy Stop Motion Ideas
My kids jumped in on this with tons of enthusiasm. Here are a few easy stop motion ideas that you can show to your children.
From three-year old R…
From six-year old N…
Benefits of Stop Motion Animation
- Offers children ownership and autonomy in the film making process
- Teaches children how stop motion animation works
- Debunks the mechanics of how movie-making happens
- The creative constraint of the medium encourages problem solving
- It’s a simple, hands-on technology that young children can achieve
- Encourages children to project and plan out where a story is heading
- Fosters iteration and experimentation through trying and testing
- Supports storytelling
So, are you ready to give it a try?
More Stop Motion Resources
How to make a Stop Motion Animation, YouTube. This is a great little video, and it sounds like it was made by KIDS! Yay.
You can’t really beat the classic stop motion animation of Gumby! Gumby on the Moon, YouTube. This would be an inspiring thing to show a child as an intro to stop motion animation.
Best Stop Motion Videos from Short of the Week. Lots of good inspiration here.
How to make things fly in Stop Motion Animation, using PhotoShop: YouTube. This is for the super-advanced students, and worth checking out if you’re curious about how these things work.