momgineer

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Stop Motion Animation STEAM Project

Stop Motion Animation for Kids

Is the creativity and imagination of kids the 8th wonder of the world? Sometimes I think it might be. One of my favorite things to do in the makerspace is to observe the kids when they are creating their own stop motion animation projects. It's always a hub of joy and excitement. You can also make this a true STEAM project by exploring science topics, calculating frame rates, and working with numerous tech tools such as photo editing software, microphones, and various animation programs.

There are many apps and programs you can use to create stop motion animation films that are kid-friendly, such as iMovie, Hue Animation Studio, or the Minecraft Animation kit. If you have another one you enjoy, please feel free to comment below!


Create a Stop Motion Animation with these Steps

1. Brainstorm ideas for the film.

 

I'm not going to lie. This is probably the most challenging part of the process when working with groups of kids. One will want superheroes, another will want Star Wars, a third will hate both those ideas and only settle for something really gory. Start with a simple list and set ground rules if there are certain themes you want to avoid. Try to separate the groups by interest. The most important part?

KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Let me say that again slowly.

Keep

it

simple.

It takes such a long time to film a stop motion animation films that you will likely only get 1-2 scenes done. Have the kids focus on one character, what that character is doing in the scene, and what they are interacting with. Try not to have too many props in the scene that need to be adjusted with each frame.

I prefer to have kids work with LEGOs for stop motion animation because it is easy to keep track of where all the pieces are on base plates. If you need to pause filming for a day or the set is disturbed, it's not impossible to set it back up again.

2. Possibly more important than the plot is the lighting.

This might sound crazy at first, but there is nothing worse than capturing hundreds of frames for your stop motion animation only to watch it and see constant light flicker. If you do not set up your lighting, you will have light flicker, either from sun peeking in and out from clouds, or from shadows of the animators. Use two desk lamps to avoid light flicker and cancel out shadows, or invest in some quality lighting. Be sure it isn't so bright that you have glare!

3. Make a plan, Stan.

Have your kids come up with a plan for the scene. They will start to get ideas for the set and solidify the actions their character is taking in the animation. The storyboard doesn't have to be elaborate but it can really help kids define the scene.

4. Design the set.

This will be the highlight of the experience for some of the students. It's where they get to create their world and imagination comes to life. The simplest set can just be a backdrop. A more complicated set can have some props, but try to keep them to a minimum as they can be complicated to work around when filming.

5. The fun part! Filming the stop motion animation.

Okay, well *some* kids will have fun with this part. Many will have the patience to move their characters just a little each frame, but some will get frustrated with this part. If that is the case, you can have the kids switch off being the director or the photographer. They can make sure that all characters in the scene are moving at roughly the same rate as each other, and check to make sure the captured frames look good. If a set gets moved, they can also line it back up again.

6. Editing your stop motion animation film.

Did the set shift in a frame? Maybe you captured a hand in a frame? One frame just doesn't line up quite right? It's time to remove those frames. If you have kids who are skilled at photo editing, they may be able to manually edit frames that didn't capture correctly. This is also a great time to loop any frames that make sense to loop. If the characters are having a dance party, for instance, there is no reason you can't duplicate frames and loop them several times. It will add significantly to the length of the film. You can even drop them in in reverse, like Boomerang for Instagram.

Don't have fancy photo editing software? Try Gimp. It's free!

7. Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3.


This is the most exciting part, next to watching the film. It's time to add sound effects or green screen effects, and record any voice overs. You can have students plan out what they are going to say and write it down, then practice as they watch the animation. Do a practice run, and then record sounds. It might take a few tries to get it right but it will take far less time than all the other steps. You can also add any beginning and ending credits at this time.

8. Movie time! 

I promise that the kids will want to watch their film over and over the first time they see it. Thankfully it is also probably only about 30-60 seconds long.

Here are a few images from past projects:
beach scene set

Minecraft kit animation
simple brick film set
Looking for more stop motion animation project ideas and tips? I have created a guide that supports this activity in a meaningful way. You can check it out here:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Stop-Motion-Animation-STEAM-Project-3211523?utm_source=Momgineer%20Blog&utm_campaign=Stop%20Motion%20STEAM


or pin this idea for later:

Stop Motion Animation STEAM Project for Makerspaces - Meredith Anderson Momgineer

* Thanks to EduClips for many of the clip art images used in the post.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

STEM Activities to Support the Study of Edward Tulane

4 STEM Activities to Try When Reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

A respected part of the family. Junk at the bottom of the ocean. A confidante. A traveling companion. A journey of the heart and soul, and so much more. This story, told through the eyes of Edward the china rabbit, touches on different walks of life and various tragedies so many of us encounter in our own. It is through these journeys that Edward truly learns about love, loss, and life.

Disclaimer: I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you downloads of value and information about educational resources. The link below is an Amazon affiliate link. You can read my full disclosure here.

Because this story has some deeply emotional and melancholy scenes, it may be difficult to process. Having a hands-on project can help young readers process those emotions as well as connect to the story in their own way. I have created a series of STEM activities to be used while studying this book (or to be used after the book is finished). While students are creating their designs, they may feel it is easier to open up about their thoughts on the book and what is going on. Using a stuffed animal, they will follow Edward on his journey.

Design and Create Apparel for "Edward"


A stuffed animal is much easier to deal with than a china doll or animal!

Gather your materials:
  • paper, card stock, vinyl tablecloth, felt, or fabric scraps
  • tape, Velcro or hook and loop sticky dots, or fabric tape
  • stuffed animal
  • buttons (optional, for decoration)
Design and create the clothing or accessory. Take measurements, focusing on important obstacles such as ears or a tail. Even if you are using fabric as the final design, make the pattern first with paper, and then improve it as needed. After the piece is finished, try it on another animal. Does it work? Why or why not? What would Edward think of it? Would he think it was up to snuff?

Design and Create a High Chair for Edward Tulane


Edward spends part of his journey as Susanna, sitting in the kitchen, listening to Nellie. Design and create a chair for your stuffed animal.

Materials needed:
  • card stock, index cards, craft sticks
  • tape
What will the high chair look like? Will your stuffed animal sit in it without falling out?

A Harmonica for Bryce



While most of the challenges focus on Edward, Bryce definitely deserves his own challenge. As Bryce is another young owner of Edward (as Jangles), many of the kids will naturally identify with him. What kind of music did Bryce play to his ill sister? Compose your own harmonica song after making a harmonica!

Materials needed
  • craft sticks
  • straws or toothpicks
  • rubber bands
  • decorative tape (optional)
One rubber band is sandwiched between two craft sticks (and around the outside of one). Two spacers (straws) are placed near the ends. Two rubber bands join the craft sticks together. The portion of the rubber band that is between the craft sticks vibrates as you blow through. How can you change the sounds of the harmonica?

Design and Create a Marionette



Make Jangles dance!

All you need are stuffed animals (with floppy limbs) and string or wires. Add craft sticks to attach the string to if desired. Try to control two limbs independently!

More STEM with Edward Tulane

In addition to the challenges above, I have created a full resource to support the 3 challenges mentioned (with engineering terminology, recording sheets, etc.), and additional challenges. I'd love for you to check it out!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Miraculous-Journey-of-Edward-Tulane-STEM-Challenges-Novel-STEM-Activities-3168927?aref=qtsgcm28&utm_source=Momgineer%20Blog&utm_campaign=Edward%20Tulane



Pin it for later!





Thursday, June 1, 2017

STEM Tale - The Three Billy Goats Gruff Fairy Tale Activity

Fairy Tale STEM Activity for The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The goats may have gotten past the troll once, but what about crossing the river when the troll comes back?

Materials Needed for this STEM Fairy Tale Activity


  • card stock for the characters and bridge, or use small figurines
  • foam pipe insulation, cardboard boxes and other recyclables, building bricks, etc.

Before Getting Started with the STEM Tale


STEM tales work best if you read the original fairy tale first or do your own storytelling. Discuss the similarities and differences as you read through the story. If you use the resource I've created (linked below) you can make your own characters easily. Otherwise, use small figurines from a barn set or math manipulatives as the goats and troll.


There is also an initial simple bridge you can construct from card stock.

Fairy Tale STEM with the Engineering Design Process 

I have designed STEM tales so that as students read the story, they will follow the engineering design process. What is the problem that needs to be solved in the Three Billy Goats STEM Tale? The goats need to get to the other side of the river, and they are tired of dealing with the troll. To do this, they will outsmart the troll by building a new bridge the troll will be too afraid to go on!

Design a Bridge

After brainstorming bridge design ideas, the students will then choose one to create. They will need to take measurements as well as pick a troll phobia. What are some common phobias people have? The troll below has arachnophobia! He will never want to go near the bridge as long as it looks like spiders have taken over. The goats can cross the river easily now.

Use what you have and let the students run away with their imaginations on this one. You can get creative with the troll character. This troll is apparently afraid of fish!


STEM tales are a great way to foster teamwork and problem-solving. To find the full resource, which includes an 8-page booklet, check list for self-evaluation, and tips, visit this link:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Three-Billy-Goats-Gruff-STEM-Activity-Design-a-Troll-Proof-Goat-Bridge-2846359?utm_source=Momgineer%20Blog&utm_campaign=STEM%20tale%20gear%20series

Pin the idea for later:



To read more about how to conduct a STEM challenge, visit this post:

http://momgineer.blogspot.com/2016/09/how-to-run-successful-stem-tale.html

To see all posts in this series, click here:

STEM Tales Blog Series




Monday, May 29, 2017

STEM Tale - Fairy Tale Activity for Beauty and the Beast

Fairy Tale STEM Activity for Beauty and the Beast

Belle loves to read but she needs a book stand. Why? Her hands are tied up helping the beast tame his mane!

Materials Needed for this STEM Fairy Tale Activity

I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you downloads of value and information about educational resources. The link below is an Amazon affiliate link. You can read my full disclosure here.
  • cardboard boxes, recyclables, tape 
  • (optional) building bricks and plates (this pack is LEGO-compatible)
  • books to test in the book stand

Watch a Video Preview

Before Getting Started with the STEM Tale


STEM tales work best if you read the original fairy tale first or do your own storytelling. Discuss the similarities and differences as you read through the story. Since many of the kids have likely seen a movie of this fairy tale, you can also contrast and compare the movie to the story.

Fairy Tale STEM with the Engineering Design Process 

I have designed STEM tales so that as students read the story, they will follow the engineering design process. What is the problem that needs to be solved in the Beauty and the Beast STEM Tale? Beauty needs a book stand. You can provide a variety of books for the students to pick from.

Design a Book Stand

After brainstorming book stand design ideas, the students will then choose one to create. They will need to take measurements and then test out the book stand to make sure it holds the book. Once they have a working design, they can test it out with other books. For example, the design below will work for a narrow range of books. If the book is too long, it won't fit (or the words will be obscured).

The stand above holds the book at the top and bottom of the book. Here is another design that supports the book at the sides:

The design above will work for books of a different length/height, but what if they are too wide? This one can actually be adjusted for width to some degree.

Growth Mindset and STEM


STEM tales are a great way to foster teamwork and problem-solving. They are also the perfect way to model a growth mindset. It is rare for an engineering design to work perfectly on the first attempt, so students will likely experience failure at some point. In improving the designs and working together, they will work through the issues and solve the problem.

To find the full resource, which includes an 8-page booklet, check list for self-evaluation, and tips, visit this link:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Beauty-and-the-Beast-STEM-activity-Create-A-Book-Stand-for-Belle-2433718?utm_source=Momgineer%20Blog&utm_campaign=STEM%20tale%20gear%20series

Pin the idea for later:

Fairy Tale STEM - Beauty and the Beast. Design and create a book stand for Belle! Meredith Anderson Momgineer


To read more about how to conduct a STEM challenge, visit this post:

http://momgineer.blogspot.com/2016/09/how-to-run-successful-stem-tale.html

To see all posts in this series, click here:

STEM Tales Blog Series




Thursday, May 25, 2017

STEM Tale - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Fairy Tale STEM Activity for Snow White

The dwarfs often wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Snow White is fed up with their morning bickering. This STEM tale guides students through the process of creating a large table for the dwarfs as well as a seating arrangement so they can have a pleasant breakfast.

Materials Needed for this STEM Fairy Tale Activity


  • card stock for the characters
  • index cards, card stock, and tape for the table

Before Getting Started with the STEM Tale


STEM tales work best if you read the original fairy tale first or do your own storytelling. Discuss the similarities and differences as you read through the story. To get started, you need some dwarfs and a Snow White. Use figurines or the printable figures I have created (find the resource at the end of this post):


For this STEM tale, you will want the characters to have some weight to them to test out the table. Why? The dwarfs can get a little rowdy and stand on the table. Snow White may even join them from time to time.

Fairy Tale STEM with the Engineering Design Process 

I have designed STEM tales so that as students read the story, they will follow the engineering design process. What is the problem that needs to be solved in the Snow White STEM Tale? There are actually two problems, and the booklet guides students through the problem-solving steps.



The unique engineering problem in this STEM tale is actually not the building part, but the logic part! If you haven't done any coding before, don't stress, this is a very basic coding activity (no tech required). My resource includes a warm up exercise (choose from IF/THEN or IF/THEN/ELSE) so your students will feel comfortable with conditional statements before getting into the story.

Once they have been introduced to conditional statements, they can then figure out who can sit next to whom at the table.

Design a Table

After brainstorming table design ideas, the students will then choose one to create. They will need to take measurements and then test out the table to make sure it supports all of the dwarfs.


STEM tales are a great way to foster teamwork and problem-solving. This STEM tale usually inspires amazing creativity and excitement from the littlest engineers.

To find the full resource, which includes an 8-page booklet, check list for self-evaluation, and tips, visit this link:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Snow-White-and-the-Seven-Dwarfs-STEM-Activity-Breakfast-for-Eight-3080389?utm_source=Momgineer%20Blog&utm_campaign=STEM%20tale%20gear%20series

Pin the idea for later:

Fairy Tale STEM - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs! Not only do students need to create a table for the dwarfs, they also need to use logic to solve a seating arrangement problem. Meredith Anderson Momgineer



To read more about how to conduct a STEM challenge, visit this post:

http://momgineer.blogspot.com/2016/09/how-to-run-successful-stem-tale.html

To see all posts in this series, click here:

STEM Tales Blog Series




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

STEM Tale - Robin Hood Activity

Fairy Tale STEM Activity for Robin Hood

Robin Hood has gotten himself into a jam. He needs your students to help him design and create a new bow so he can win the archery competition and pay back the money he stole!

Materials Needed for this STEM Fairy Tale Activity

I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you downloads of value and information about educational resources. The link below is an Amazon affiliate link. You can read my full disclosure here.

Before Getting Started with the STEM Tale


STEM tales work best if you read the original fairy tale first or do your own storytelling. Discuss the similarities and differences as you read through the story. Another fun thing to do with this STEM tale in particular is to talk about various weapons used in warfare over the ages. One of my favorite book series for hands-on projects with kids is the Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction series:
http://amzn.to/2q9j0Rf

Once I checked out one of these books at my local library, I knew I had to have them all for our own library! They are fantastic as a reference as well, to help kids get ideas on how to use various objects in their designs.

Fairy Tale STEM with the Engineering Design Process 

I have designed STEM tales so that as students read the story, they will follow the engineering design process. If you do multiple STEM tales, the process will become routine for your students and they will start using it when they solve other problems.

Design a Bow for Robin Hood

After brainstorming design ideas for a bow, the students will then choose one to create. They will test out the bow with an arrow (either a pencil or a cotton swab). I prefer using a pencil, because the string grips nicely on the eraser. Please make sure all students start behind a line and only shoot in one direction, or you can construct a simple "shooting range" if you are concerned about injuries. The image above shows three varieties of bow - spoons, craft sticks, and a bamboo skewer, all with string. This is an example of how to load the arrow:


Testing the Bow Design

Before testing, go over the ground rules several times. One violation and testing should immediately stop!
  • Bows can only be aimed at targets (use a printable target or simply stacked cups)
  • Only shoot when the range is clear
  • Retrieve arrows when instructed to do so

Growth Mindset and STEM

STEM tales are the perfect way to model a growth mindset. It is rare for an engineering design to work perfectly on the first attempt, so students will likely experience failure at some point. In improving the designs and working together, they will work through the issues and solve the problem. In this challenge, I provided long balloons and most of the kids wanted to try them out (what kid doesn't love a balloon?). What they learned is that the balloons stretch too much and the arrow doesn't fly as well as with a string.

Optional - Prepare the Bow Ahead of Time

The instructions for these bows are in the Mini Weapons book. The craft sticks are soaked in water so they are easier to bend, then you set them into the shape and let dry overnight:


This is a good option if you want to keep variability low. You can then Have the students try various rubber bands or strings.

To find the full resource, which includes an 8-page booklet, check list for self-evaluation, and tips, visit this link:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STEM-activity-Robin-Hood-Fairy-Tale-Challenge-2185193?utm_source=Momgineer%20Blog&utm_campaign=STEM%20tale%20gear%20series


Pin the idea for later:

Design and create a bow for Robin Hood! In this STEM tale, help Robin Hood repay his debts by winning the archery competition. | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

To read more about how to conduct a STEM challenge, visit this post:

http://momgineer.blogspot.com/2016/09/how-to-run-successful-stem-tale.html

To see all posts in this series, click here:

STEM Tales Blog Series