July 2017 - momgineer

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?


Let me say that again slowly.




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:


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.
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!