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A Complete Guide for Stop-Motion Animation in the Art Room

I was first inspired to explore stop-motion when I met influential art ed dude  Mark Jones. He’s the genius behind some of the best stop-motion animation videos designed, written, and created by kids. I was lucky enough to see him at my state art ed conference a few years back. If you haven’t seen these videos – watch them before you go any further!

  • The Robot and the Butterfly
  • Stand Up Tall
  • Stand Up Tall: Behind the Scenes (to help visualize the process)

See more on Mr. Jones’ YouTube channel .

After seeing the potential, I asked myself: How do I do this with MY kids?

stop-motion animation

As with many great collaborations, I initially worked with one of my colleagues to bring this idea to fruition. Below are the documents and adaptations that have worked well in my classroom. Each year I tweak or change something to make the project more successful for my students. I encourage you to build on the foundation I’m providing here! Let’s go!

Teacher Prep

Note: Many of the resources listed are available for download further down in this post!

Below are the steps that you can take if you’d like to try this project with your students.

Of course, this is just a starting point. Change and adapt these steps to fit your teaching style, timeline, and students.

1. Prepare a PowerPoint to introduce the project.

2. Choose a theme…or not. Depending on your preference, you can narrow the topic to something such as “color theory” or “transformation.” But, keep in mind… some of the best videos have come from having no parameters at all!

3. Create a playlist of stop-motion video examples to show your students. Use YouTube, Pinterest, or a bookmarks folder to help you organize!

4. Make and print worksheets to guide students through the process.

5. Make a list of what materials you will make available to students. Consider everyday materials like markers, crayons, scissors, and glue. I also provide my students with poster board, construction paper, and modeling clay .

Modeling Clay

6. Develop groups of students with the classroom teachers.

7. Familiarize yourself with iMotion , and prepare a mini-lesson where you make a short video as a demo for your students.

8. Introduce and launch the project!

Student Prep

Student Prep

The worksheets I reference in the list below are grouped as a packet for downloading. I recommend printing off a large number of each page. Each student and group will use a varying number of these worksheets throughout the unit. I have my students check in with me after each step so that I can ensure that they are on track. Before they can start to build their sets, they pitch me their movie idea! This step makes for a fun check-point.

Here are my students’ steps throughout the project.

  • Brainstorm stories individually
  • Brainstorm stories in groups
  • Come up with a story as a group and propose it to me
  • Build sets and props
  • Shoot movie
  • Finalize and export
  • Share with others
  • Fill out rubric

Helpful Hints

Doing stop-motion in the art room is a big undertaking. Here are a few helpful hints I’ve learned over the years.

1. Keep your students on track with a PowerPoint slide featuring the daily goal.

2. Make room to store the extra materials you will have, and create, with this project.

3. Check out Nic Hahn’s unbelievably amazing posts about technology and animation on her blog Mini Matisse  for inspiration.

4. Be prepared to keep some groups more on track than others.

5. Have an iMotion exploration day so students can familiarize themselves with the app and the stop-motion process.

6. This year, we chose to do movie awards. It was a fun addition to the process. Students were able to practice their critiquing skills and recognize each other’s work.


Prepping the students and keeping them on track are keys to this project’s success. Below are 3 resources I’ve created to help. I hope they work in your room as well!

1. Power Point Presentation You can download the PowerPoint presentation that I use to introduce the lesson by clicking the image below. It contains a brief overview of stop-motion animation, key vocabulary and more!

Click to download free Power Point!

2. Packet Here is a packet that includes worksheets, storyboard tools, and rubrics. Download away!

Click to download free stop-motion packet!

3. Stop-Motion Animation Examples

Below is a list of my favorite stop-motion examples to show my class. As always, preview them yourself to determine if they are appropriate for your students. Keep an eye on YouTube’s sidebars as well.

  • Sesame Street: OK GO – Three Primary Colors
  • The Robot and the Butterfly by Mr. Jones Art
  • Stand Up Tall by Mr. Jones Art
  • Frictions by Burayan
  • Western Spaghetti by PES
  • Game Over by PES
  • Fresh Guacamole by PES
  • Creativity by Tiny Circus (anything Tiny Circus does is pretty awesome!)
  • Elephant Trap by Tiny Circus
  • The Art Classroom by Tiny Circus

As with any project, it is most successful when you make it your own and adapt it for your students’ needs and interests. Please feel free to use and adjust the documents I’ve included to implement your own stop-motion animation unit. Students get extremely excited about this unit. So much so, that many begin to make these animations outside of the art room. Encourage them to share these. Who knows? Maybe you’re teaching the next Walt Disney!

Do you do animation with your students? What are YOUR helpful hints?

What videos would you add to the list of examples? Do you have any of your students’ videos to share?!

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.

stop motion assignment

Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek

Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek, an elementary school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She is passionate about teaching and reaching students through an innovative and meaningful arts education.

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Using Stop-Motion Movies For Lesson Assignments

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Sometimes students are somewhat shy to enact conversations and dramatize situations in class. Other times, asking students to write a story from scratch doesn’t scratch an itch in them. However, giving students alternative ways to bring their stories and assignments to life can bring a whole now dimension to your second language classroom.

A good toolI’ve found effective and fun is the use of a stop-motion app. Instead of having student stand up in front of the class as a final lesson assignment, instruct them instead to create a small stop-motion movie!

Via Stop-motion animations (using. a stop-motion app), students can bring their ideas to life by designing and building their own characters, backgrounds and even add voices to each one of the characters they decide to add to their short movie.

Not only that, but given that the possibilities are endless, you can assign different topics and themes, or just give them free reign to their future masterpieces.

Having students create a stop-motion movie doesnt have to be a one-activity endeavor; you can add more layers to the movie-making process by having them write the script in one lesson; focused on grammar and/or vocabulary, creating characters and scenarios in the next lesson, and so on. If your students are up for it, have them collaborate in their projects. Encourage students to step out of their confort zone and go beyond the written ideas.

To finish the project with a ribbon, have a Film festival where everyone can share their ideas and projects.

Which app is easy to work with?

Students can choose their favorite app, or you can suggest one that is easay to use, and most importantly free. For iPhones and iPads, I’ve used Stop-Motion Gif for iPhone/ iPad with great results.

Photo by  Krzysztof Maksimiuk  on  Unsplash

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How To Do Stop Motion Animation

Before the advent of fully-blown CGI animation, traditional animation – in which every single frame is drawn by hand – was the industry standard. If you wanted to create something involving 3D models, stop motion animation was your only option.

But even though there are now many more ways to skin the proverbial cat, stop motion hasn’t waned in popularity. If anything, it’s becoming even more appreciated as an artform as people push the boundaries of what can be achieved with stop motion. Adam Pesapane – more famously known as PES – is a great example, with his work having delighted animation fans for over a decade:

Alongside the numerous accolades and awards PES has picked up over the years, the above animation (titled ‘Fresh Guacamole’) was also the shortest film ever to be nominated for an Oscar.

But how to follow in his footsteps? Join us as we explore…

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: stop motion animation is extremely time consuming work, which is instantly apparent to anyone who has ever seen even a basic film created in the medium. It is something that should only be attempted by those with patience, dedication, and an extreme amount of attention to detail…

… the reward for these is a level of job satisfaction that is simply off the scale.

Assuming you’re already in animation school or ready to embark on your first stop motion animation project, let’s take a look at how to do stop motion animation by first looking at the essential things you’ll need:

Models to Shoot

how to do stop motion animation

The props and models you’ll need can vary wildly, and depend wholly upon your vision for the animation and what you’re hoping to create. Many people just starting out figuring how to do stop motion animation find a lot of use and versatility in Lego, although the downside is that it can be fairly expensive to buy a large set from scratch.

A Scene in Which to Place Them

stop motion tutorial

Again, the setting can be just about anything. PES uses a simple kitchen counter and lets his props and models take the main focus . You can also hand draw imagery or use other props to build a backdrop to the scene. A green screen can also be useful if you’d like to experiment with digitally inserting backgrounds in post production.

An HD Camera

stop motion animation camera

Given that stop motion animation is as much about animating as it is an exercise in photography, you’ll want the best camera you can get your hands on. Using a phone or tablet is also an option. Although the overall image quality may not be as sharp, there are apps out there that can automate the editing process (we’ll come to this a bit later on.) Also make sure that you’ve got a big enough SD card or storage space to store all the images during the shoot.

An Extremely Stable Camera Rig

stop motion animation camera rig

And ‘stable’ is the operative word here. If the tripod isn’t 100% stationary for the duration of the scene (or the slightest knock will move it), you’ll end up with very chaotic footage in the final edit.

A Lighting Set Up

stop motion lighting

Uniform lighting is also paramount. A simple desk lamp can suffice in many occasions, but make sure you don’t have natural light coming into play which will change over the course of the shoot.

Editing Software

stop motion editing software

Software developers have become attuned to the needs of stop motion animators in recent years, so there are a number of options that will help make the editing and file management part of the job a lot easier – check out our guide on Stop Motion Animation software here.

Above all, you’ll need a clear idea of what you want to achieve. One of the biggest pitfalls that many people fail to consider when working out how to do stop motion animation is the storyboard. There is no room to work things out on the fly, and any attempts to do so will result in a mish-mash of unworkable stills. Every hour spent planning will pay off dividends in the long run, so be sure to meticulously lay out your storyboard ahead of time.

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start shooting!

  • Get all set up. Rig up your lighting and camera, and put your models and scenery into place. Bear in mind that you’ll likely be in it for the long haul, so make sure you’ve got enough time to prevent having to deconstruct everything mid-shoot.
  • Take a test shot. This is simply to make sure your lighting and camera settings are optimal before you take hundreds of photos!
  • Begin shooting. Take a photo, move the model by a tiny amount, then repeat. Do make sure your own shadow doesn’t make it into the shot…
  • Ending the Shoot: Hopefully you’ll have allowed for enough storage space to get all the images you need! Once you’re done, export all the files to your main editing suite (you may want to use a batch renaming tool to make the file names logical and in sequence.)
  • Edit the project. How you go about this comes down to which stop motion animation software you’re using, but a good rule of thumb is to make sure the individual stills are all of equal length. You’ll also want to cut in some audio or speech to make the film more dynamic from an audio perspective.

Stop motion animation tutorial

Once you’ve completed your first stop motion animation, you’ll be able to analyze the finished results and identify areas for improvement on your next project.

Golden Rule: Start off small, be patient, and keep on practicing until you create even bigger and better stop motion animations.

Animation is all around us. From opening title sequences to live-action movies to cartoons, animation and VFX are an integral part of a variety of art forms. Check out NYFA’s variety of Animation & VFX programs by visiting our Animation School page to find a program that works for you.

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  1. Results for stop motion animation

    Stop Motion STEM challenges are designed to allow students to explore presentation software while creating something using t Subjects: Computer Science - Technology, Problem Solving, Visual Arts Grades: 4 th - 6 th Types: Activities Also included in: 5th Grade Technology Curriculum Activities Bundle | Full Year Computer Lab $10.00 $5.00 4.9 (185)


    Objectives Students will use a stop motion technique to create a simple two-dimensional and/or three-dimensional animation that communicates an idea. They will also be able to define the concepts of: placement, framing, direction, and speed. Introduction

  3. Using Stop-Motion Movies For Lesson Assignments

    Using Stop-Motion Movies For Lesson Assignments – theNOWteacher March 5, 2022 EdTech / Teaching Tools Using Stop-Motion Movies For Lesson Assignments Posted by Farlin Paulino Sometimes students are somewhat shy to enact conversations and dramatize situations in class.

  4. How To Do Stop Motion Animation

    February 20, 2015 Before the advent of fully-blown CGI animation, traditional animation – in which every single frame is drawn by hand – was the industry standard. If you wanted to create something involving 3D models, stop motion animation was your only option.

  5. 10 Simple steps for creating stop motion animation

    1. Create a plan. It’s super important to plan out your stop motion video before you start. It’s also important to allow yourself the knowledge that no matter how much you plan, you will be changing that plan as you go. I typically spend a while (sometimes a long while) contemplating an idea.