Claymation – 3rd Time Lucky!

This is the third year Margot and I have worked on a claymation project with the Grade 5s, and we both feel this is the year that everything is coming together!

I have written about our adventures with animation here and here, so you can see a bit of the history.

This year, we are again connecting with the Grade 5 unit entitled Voices.

Central idea:¬†“Through the arts we tell our stories of who we are: our beliefs, our values and our experiences”

What’s different this year?

This year, we are making more of a connection to Art.

The students have been instructed to select a piece of abstract art that interests them, and use it as an inspiration for their animation. We showed them this delightful claymation that shows the sort of thing we envisioned.

It’s been great to see the diversity in the works of art the students have chosen. We are confident they will be able to express themselves creatively through having selected a work of art that interests them.

This year, we have more measures in place to make kids successful.

Hafiz, the fabulous new TA for art has personally tested the best positioning of the macbooks and the animation stages, and constructed some 90 degree wooden frames to help keep the macbooks in the same position each time.

The more consistency kids can have in keeping their macbooks still, the better their finished product.

This year, we have provided more scaffolding.

Due to time constraints, we launched straight into the projects last year. This year, we have included time to play and learn some claymation techniques. We asked the students to roll a ball back & forth, make it disappear, then explore some other ways of moving. Below you can see Kelly & Maia’s first experimentation with claymation.

Stop-Motion Animation: Round 2

The Singapore International Student Film Festival 2011 is just around the corner, so much of my time working with kids centres around video projects at the moment (I’m in heaven, I tell you!). I will explain other projects in more detail later, but with Grade 5’s, our wonderful Art teacher @togramann has been brave enough to have another go at animation with me. I documented our approach last year here, including rather detailed descriptions of my failures and (thankfully) our successes too, so here are the changes we have made this time around:

1. Ownership – We have given the students more freedom to choose their groups, and their storyline. This has had the natural added benefits of the groups being more focused, engaged and dedicated.

Overheard today: Margot said, “You may stay in at lunch time to keep working on this.” The kids unanimously shouted, “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!”

Screen shot 2010-12-01 at PM 08.18.522. Hardware and Software – in the last 6 months, our school has changed from a PC to a Mac platform, and we are loving the ease of use that using Macs brings. We stumbled across a piece of free Mac software called FrameByFrame which makes stop-motion animation a breeze. We now use the iSight camera to take the pictures (negating the need to download from a camera), and the onion-skinning feature makes it easy to see where they moved their characters last time.

3. Creativity – Letting the kids loose on their choice of narrative has meant their creativity has had a chance to shine. There are some very clever storylines out there, and with a little bit of dedication and a little bit of luck, they could well blow your mind.

4. Group Size – Last year (due to resource constraints) we had groups of 4 or 5 students working together, which was a bit cumbersome. Now we have groups of 2 and 3, which means students are more involved.

Animation image I took this great photo yesterday – it was a candid shot, and not at all staged. I love the obvious joy they are getting from their work, their pride in sharing it, and the excitement for learning that it demonstrates.

This is the sort of photo that makes me want to keep teaching!

Attempting Animation

Comfort ZoneEvery now and then I think it’s character building to step outside your comfort zone and try something you wouldn’t normally try. That’s what I kept telling myself – repeatedly – having made the decision to take on Stop-Motion Animation.

Luckily for me, people who have far more patience than I were on hand to help.

For starters, @beckcollect gave me some great ideas on how to begin, and kindly shared the Animation Stage plans he used, together with some student examples.

I found a partner-in-crime in Margot (@togramann, our wonderful Art teacher), who was also willing to have a go at this in a combined project. Finally, we found (read: strongly convinced) the Grade 5 team to let us use their students as our figurative crash-test-dummies.

Grade 5 were doing a unit on inquiry called Voices, with the following enduring  understanding (Central Idea in PYP-speak) as its focus:

Through the Arts we tell our stories of who we are: our beliefs, our values and our experiences of life.

Background (Medium)Our idea was to animate Aboriginal Dreamtime stories using Stop-Motion Animation, which we had hoped to narrate (however think we’ll just add title slides with the main story elements instead).

In Art, the students painted the backgrounds and foregrounds for the project and created the characters of their story out of plasticine.

In the ICT Lab, we had a practice run by learning to animate a sketched character and adding music to the background, to prepare for our final project, which will be animating the characters across the background and foregrounds they have constructed in Art.

Here is an example of our first-try animations, made by Al.

P1000062 (Medium)Thankfully our estates staff helped build the Animation Stages using recycled materials. They were fantastic! We ordered new digital still cameras (we went with this model) and adjustable lamps (we tried these ones, but they were a bit tricky to use).

We are now in the final stages of the project, and I have high hopes that some of the kids will be finished in time to enter their movie into the inaugural Singapore International Schools Film Festival.

Stay tuned…

Comfort zone image: / CC BY 2.0