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Easy Stop Motion Animation for Beginners

If you want to introduce your child to stop motion animation, this post is written for you. I’ll show you how to do this with an iPad or similar device, and you’ll be making your first movie in minutes.

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!

This project would be great to set up on the STEAM Table.

Stop Motion Animation, explained

For the uninitiated, stop motion animation is a film making technique that makes inanimate objects appear to move on their own. Think Gumby or Wallace and Gromit.

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.

This Stop Motion Animation project is so easy to set up, and a great way to encourage STEAM concepts with children.

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

This list contains affiliate links for your convenience

Easy Set-up for Stop Motion Animation with Kids | TinkerLab.com

Method

  1. Set up a backdrop. This could be a wall or pice of foam core.
  2. Gather toys to include in your animation.
  3. Set up your touch pad or smart phone on a stand or tripod, across from the foam core.
  4. 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.

Collect characters and objects for Stop Motion Animation Project | TinkerLab.com

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.

Easy Set-up for Stop Motion Animation with Kids | TinkerLab.com

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?

This Stop Motion Animation project is so easy to set up, and a great way to encourage STEAM concepts with kids | TinkerLab.com

More Stop Motion Resources

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.

More Projects like this one

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Build an easy light table

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81 Comments

  1. Amazing! I have one son who will EAT this up for the ingenuity of it, and another son who will eat it up for the dramatic side of it. Either way, they will LOVE it!

  2. This is soooooooo COOOOL and easy. I am looking forward to using it my classroom as an additional literacy activity!

  3. Thank you for sharing this! My six year old loved this- she made two wonderful videos today.

    • That’s wonderful to hear! It’s amazing how easy technology allows us to try things that once took weeks to do.

  4. I’ve just made my first film! This is amazing. Can’t wait to hold Film School with my boys next week. Thank you for this!

  5. this is great! My son had been using just window movie maker and using his still photos, but he might like this method better… we’ll have to try it out if there is a similar version for android!

  6. This looks like great fun! Love the character basket! I’ve been wanting to incorporate stop animation into a program at my library. For the stand, for your iPad, are you just using your cover that folds into a stand? And does the app you mentioned using, convert the stills into a video or is there an additional step involved? Thanks!

  7. My son and daughter, 10 and 6, love making stop-motion movies with their Legos. My camera and iPhoto account contain literally thousands of shots! We have had trouble finding a quality Mac program that is kid-friendly and costs less than $50. I will check out the one you mentioned.

  8. Loved your videos! One of our summer camp sessions this summer is called i-Build i-Film and the kids build projects that become creative play, a kind of storytelling. They also make backdrops and more props, we give them iPods and their creations become stop motion animation films. The films are amusing and creative and we’d love for you to check them out on our YouTube Channel: ConstructionKidsonYT

    http://youtu.be/ZAMqNXa8UFk?list=UUtK1fgUCLCGLkf1Yx-HsAwA

    • Thanks so much! Your programs look like a wonderful resources for creative children and I wish I had time to pop down and visit your space on my trip to NYC last week. Next time!

  9. Love this! My daughter is really into making food videos, she wants to put them on Youtube but I find myself hesitating. It’s not really about how indulgent they are, but more about whether I want her to have such a personal online presence — it feels different blogging about the kids than letting them vlog. Maybe I’ll see if she gets into something like this, where she is behind the camera…

    • That’s a good idea, Jennifer. I have similar concerns, especially as my kids get more enthusiastic about having camera time as well.

  10. We got to play with some stop-motion movie-making at our kids’ museum this morning and came home excited to try it ourselves. The Lego movie maker app worked well for my 4-yr-old…I’m not thrilled that it’s branded, but it was simple and you can use any toys you like, not just legos.

  11. I can’t wait to give this a try with my son and daughter, I think they’ll love it! My son especially, he’s always talked about how he wants to make YouTube videos, and although I’m sure he means gaming videos like all those YouTuber guys make, I think this will be a fine start.

  12. Hi am a 11 year boy i too make stop motion using action figures . Thank ou for tips .

  13. […] Here’s an excellent option for creative STEM learning. We’ve all seen the fun stop-motion videos online, but you probably never thought of creating one yourself or, better yet, with your kids. With just a few objects, a smartphone or iPad® and a stop-motion app, your kids can learn about the technology behind movie-making and create a video unique to their own likes and interests. Stop-Motion Animation Video […]

  14. […] After discussing this with one of my teacher colleagues, I was reminded of Stop Motion Animation, an app that our school librarian has used with some of the classes in our school in the past. It was a ‘light bulb’ moment and I immediately decided that I wanted to explore this app in my Story Workshop program for my inquiry. The creative parenting website, TinkerLab, describes Stop Motion as a “film making technique that makes inanimate objects appear to move on their own. 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.” (https://tinkerlab.com/easy-stop-motion-animation-kids/) […]

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