Stop frame animation on placement

A day in the life at Wollaston School

As a digital leader I was keen to lead in sharing a project of some description whilst on placement. I decided to offer a stop frame animation club to the children in my class. This was going to take place one lunchtime a week for the 8 weeks that I was on placement. The club was offered to all the children in the class. When I first introduced the idea, I asked the children what they thought stop frame animation looked like. A few responses were along the lines of Lego Movies and Minecraft. However, within the classroom there were a pair of bookends with the iconic image of Morph. The children recognised that despite being nearly forty years old he still entranced and amused children and adults alike with the magic of stop frame animation. Modern contemporaries in the guise of Shaun the Sheep and Wallace and Gromit were also identified. I told the children as places were limited to six they had to write me a letter persuading me to be part of the club. I had just started the placement and had not as yet seen much evidence of the children’s written work as they were focusing on grammar and comprehension.  I had planned to do persuasion writing within the topic so this had given me an insight into the children’s abilities.

I received approximately eight letters varying from a scribbled note on the back of a piece of scarp paper to a full addressed letter within an envelope. I accepted the first six letters I received and announced that at 1pm every Tuesday after they had eaten their school lunch they were to come to the classroom. The apps used on the project were I can animate and iMovie Maker.

1st session – I brought from home a load of plasticine and Lego characters. My own iPad mini suffered a collision with the floor so the university were very generous in loaning me one for the duration of my placement. In fact, I had originally planned on doing a green screen project based around the topic Guitar Hero to make rock videos. With that in mind university loaned me an iPad, iPad stand and green fabric. Getting back to the session, the children brainstormed what kind of story they wanted to animate. Various suggestions were given such as one involving an ensemble of angry birds, minions and Lego characters all at once. In the end it was agreed to animate ‘A day in the life of Wollaston School.’ The children started to sculpt their characters. They were very creative due to the limited range of colours that I had but it didn’t deter the children and in fact caused quite a few giggles.

2nd session – The children wanted to stage their backdrops and had the idea to use the actual surroundings. So armed with the iPad, photos were taken of the entrance, classroom and hall as a backdrop. They also had the great idea to record the sounds in and around the school. However, there was an issue the original iPad was not recording the sounds. Thankfully the university came to the rescue and loaned me a second iPad.

Further sessions.

During the 8 weeks that the club was in session the children overcame quite a few obstacles. The backdrops were photos taken from around the school which was then stuck to a piece of cardboard which then had the plasticine figures stuck to it. Quite often the dictionaries, of which there were many, would slide about which meant that the continuity would be affected. Additionally, the figures would frequently drop off the photos. Towards the end of the session, the eagle eyed viewers of the animation will notice that the figures have changed to Lego characters as they were much lighter.  There were many contributions within the school towards the project with the voices of Head Teacher Sally Hamson, Class teacher Tom Goacher and the children in the playground.

I’m sure you’ll agree that what the children managed to create in eight 20 minute sessions is outstanding and an enjoyable way to spend a lunch break. I hope they get further opportunities to explore their animation skills.