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Today I have been continuing my journey through the world of animation with year 3 pupils. By now they are pretty good at making sure the little webcams are plugged in, and they have a good understanding of the basic principles. We are still only moving little models around the tables, but they all understanding that the smaller and finer the movement, the smoother their film looks.

In school we are using the program ZU3D. We purchased the full set up last year, with a full site license, 45 webcams and some of the set kits. All in all it was an expense, but I am already seeing the benefit in the lessons. The discussion generated in the room us just ridiculous. I have them working in animator teams of 2, working out what they want their models to do, how they are going to get it move and what edits they are going to do afterwards. Do they need to add titles and credits? What sounds should they add? How many frames have we done? Could we do more? It’s brilliant!

The films we’re producing aren’t bad either for a group of 7 year olds. Granted they are a big jerky in places, and a few hands manage to creep into the film, but the overall effect is brill.

I’m also doing the same project with year 6 children at the moment but obviously at a different level. They are working with small plasticine models to create their work, and thinking about how they can be used int he world of film making. Again, due to the simple nature of the program, the results have been great. I could leave them working on this for hours if I had the time.

2cass logoThere are plenty of buzz words that do the rounds in primary schools on a regular basis, but one has popped up constantly this year; Programming. ICT teachers have the task of a changing curriculum with a completely different outlook and focus. So for the past few months I have been thinking of programs and teaching ideas, that I already use with the pupils, that encompass the themes and outcomes of the changing curriculum.

2cass overall

Pupils made some none fiction texts based on nocturnal animals.

One that came to mind, and one that I love using with pupils of all ages is 2CreateASuperStory. 2SimpleSoftware produce some great programs, and are always easy to use with the pupils, but 2CASS adds something else, and extra dimension. Like other software it has the simple drawing tools that all pupils are used to, but it also comes with a whole host of pre-made characters and shapes ready to be manipulated. When loaded into the page children have the ability to programme its movements, the direction, and how far it travels. They can even add text, sounds, and change the movement of the book. The best thing is that the children don’t even know they programming. They get a simple and clear understanding of direction and distance whilst making and sharing some great creative work.

Control instructions made the owl fly across the image.

Control instructions made the owl fly across the image.

Where next? 

Next year I plan to make the movement and control side of the program more of a focus. Rather than just telling pupils to animate their pictures I think I will give them more specific instructions. This should show me that they can programme, and if necessary, debug a sequence of instructions (or algorithm!). I also want to develop the type of activity I do using the software. It has oodles of features and different style that I just haven’t got round to using with pupils, I tend to be lazy and stick to the simple mode.

How many of the different features have you used? What programs that you use now lend themselves easily to programming and control? 

This week Digital Leaders had a fantastic day at the National Media Museum in Bradford. For those who haven’t been, it’s FANTASTIC!  Floors full of historical technology and media, packed with a wide variety of interactive and engaging activities. We spent the morning walking through the museum looking at the history of the internet, and working or way through to playing on some vintage arcade games. Great Stuff. The museum has some great blue screen set up with allowed the children to go sky diving and even visit Coronation Street. They also had a go at news reporting for the BBC. The best thing about the museum was the sense of real world applications. They were able to see how technology has influenced the world of media, and the part they could play in the future.

We can do things that we never could before. Stop-motion lets you build tiny little worlds, and computers make that world even more believable. Nick Park, Aardman Animations.

For the afternoon though we had booked a session with their resident animation expert, Jack Lockhart, looking at the method of making a stop motion animation video.they loved the session and worked hard to produce and edit a short video file in the time given. Of course myself and my support staff HAD to have a go as well, (see video below if I can get it working!). The session was designed to show the DL’s how they could teach Stop Motion Animation to a younger year group. they took on all the information and had some great discussion on what  they could do at their ICT club. As we walked out my head was full of hints and tips from the day that I thought would be great to share with other people wanting to give animation a try, so here goes:

  •  Think about your set up. When we got back to school I instantly thought of different animation projects i could do with classes, but I needed to think about the logistics of it all. Where would the tripods go? what would keep them secure? Will my webcams be of good enough? Do I need to purchase any animation software? all of these things need to be considered before you can start to projects. The big thing I had to think about was a space where the set up could be left. If a group gets half way through a scene in a lesson I want them to be able to come back to it.
  • Get the right software. There are so many choices when it comes to animation software, you need to pick the one that suites your needs. If it’s for working with KS1 think about a simple program like 2animate. For the more advanced pupils something like iMovie or Zu3D might be more appropriate. Something I look for my KS2 pupils is the ability to ‘Onion Screen’ their work. This means being able to see the previous frame over the current one, a big advantage if something is knocked or moved. It also allows them to see how big the movements are between frames.
  • Planning. You really have to over prepare and make sure you have everything ready. This means things like the characters you will be using and the props you need to make. What are you going to use as a background? What are your character made of? Something like Plasticine is great because it remains solid, but it also easy to manipulate.
  • Set aside a whole heap of time! The process of capturing the frames, putting it all in order, adding sound and effects, and putting the whole thing together as one is a LONG process. Don’t expect to have a quality video done in a day! Try working with small groups at a time, taking it in turns to do small parts of the projects. Younger pupils can get bored with the process very quickly, so it’s best to split it up.
  • Think about the output. How are you going to present you work. This really needs to be considered in the editing stage. You should think about what file type you are using and the quality of the frames. The bigger the screen it will be played on, the higher the image quality needs to be. You could also think about putting it on your school website, so you could think about how you could store and stream the video online.

Hopefully these tips should give you a bit of a start, and help you avoid some of the pitfalls. Enjoy!



toadLove this website! Animate, rotate and zoom through hundreds of different objects. Get pupils to play and explore with items you will very rarely have in school. The image quality is great, and the level of detail is more than enough for pupils to engage with. A site likes this works great when using Aurasma, really good for an image board.

One of my favourite lessons of the year. Over the past few weeks my year 1 pupils have been tracking Barnaby Bear as he travels around the world. He spent some time in Australia, stopping off in Peshawar and Paris, before finishing his journey in Bradford. Pupils used the animation software on 2CASS to bring Barnaby to life.

The pupils started off by creating different backgrounds of the world Barnaby has visited. Then using the animated characters they created a version of Barnaby. With links to literacy the pupils then had to add a couple of sentences telling me where Barnaby was, and what he was doing. As an extension I asked the pupils to use a connective in their writing.

The outcome was good, with pupils enjoying the lesson and creating some great work. what really makes this a good lesson is the ability to expand upon it using the 2CASS story. The next lesson will be adding a new page to their book, only this time they will have to copy and paste a picture in. An easy task for us, mind blowing to a year 1 pupil!

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