Stop Motion Animation Lesson Plan
Lesson plans are meant to support future facilitators with supplemental information needed to feel confident in running SHIFT programming.
You can play the video tutorials on Stop Motion animation and the Soft Skills video we have created to teach SHIFT content to participants.
Free software can be used, and professional equipment is not needed
*This module can be done in-person or in an online format*
The Stop Motion animation module for [shift] coaches participants in soft-skills through the creation of short, animated scenes. We connect the course content to the art medium by viewing art-making as contemplative practice. Just like building an art skill such as animation, adopting soft-skills requires focus and repetition. Participants will use simple objects like toys or clay (either found around the home or provided by the facilitator) to develop their own short animation that illustrates at least one soft skill. Through the frame-by-frame process of stop motion animation, participants will be challenged to think creatively in their approach. They’ll be asked to self-reflect on skills they’re interested in and use their innovation to consider how they can make scenes that convey these skills to others. Animations can be as literal or abstract as the participant wants. The product is less important than the learning process – so long as participants can confidently explain how their work represents the soft skills they have chosen to illustrate.
We strive to coach soft skill development when reviewing projects, during check-outs at the end of each class, and in more informals ways during everyday conversations. We have found that thoughtfulness and adaptations are always required to tailor the course to a given group of participants.
1. Participants will develop an awareness of the soft skills in their daily lives and identify for themselves which skills they possess and ones they’d like to work on.
2. Participants will reflect on the soft skills through animation, practicing their creativity, critical thinking, and innovation to make unique animated vignettes that represent the skills they’re interested in.
3. Participants will be able to articulate their own journey towards soft skills development with others by engaging in group discussions and class activities.
1. Participants will create a stop motion animation that portrays one or two of the twelve soft skills.
2. Participants will create a soft skill inventory and identify the soft skills they are good at and ones they want to improve on.
3. Participants will discuss the soft skills they observe in themselves by presenting their animations and sharing their thoughts to the group.
Class 1 Introductions, check-in, class norms, outline course and expectations, Soft Skills video and PowerPoint presentation, discussion, check out.
Class 2 Check-in, introduce Flip Book assignment with Flipbook video tutorial, work period, Flip Book presentations, check out.
Class 3 Check-in, introduce Stop Motion assignment with Stop Motion video tutorial, work period, checkout.
Class 4 Check-in, work period, screening of final animations, final check-out and takeaways reviewing content from across the course.
Daily Class Activities
At the start of every class, the daily check-ins are integral to the SHIFT team-building process. It allows for the facilitators and the participants to get to know each other and creates an open and friendly environment for collaboration – which is what arts-based education thrives on. It allows for the facilitator to check in with participants to get a better sense of where everyone is at emotionally and how everyone may be feeling. It also allows the facilitator the opportunity to adjust their materials or approach as needed.
Additionally, the check-ins are meant to empower participants to use their voices to express themselves. In our experience, many participants appreciate a process that gives them the floor, an opportunity to share whatever may be on their minds free of judgment. Participants learn that their words, opinions, and voices have weight - something that is integral to their ability to work in groups, advocate for themselves, and ultimately become better friends, partners, and colleagues. Empathy is the most important skill the facilitator should exercise here.
Check-in questions can vary based on what the facilitator prefers. Some have used the “number scale” to break the ice by asking, “On a scale of 1-10 how are you feeling today (with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best)?” Facilitators will give participants the opportunity to elaborate on their ratings, to express why and/or how they are coming in to class that day.
“Getting-to-know-you” questions can also be a fun and insightful approach. Some examples include:
* If you could travel anywhere in the world right now (all-expenses paid), where would you go and with whom?
* What did you eat for breakfast?
* What is a special food memory?
* If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would it be?
* If you were to compete in the Olympics, which sport would you choose to compete in?
The check-in questions can be based on the comfort level of the group and each participant always has the option to decline to answer any question they’re not up for. In that scenario, it’s still recommended to get their “1-10 scale” rating or any kind of perception check in order to see how they’re feeling that day.
It is recommended that facilitators establish group norms on the first session of the course that will help guide the work going forward. Group norms are rules that the class will decide on together as a unit. Things like treating one another with respect, giving everyone the space to express themselves free of judgment, listening to one another and not interrupting, to name a few. This is an opportunity for participants to claim some agency over how the classes will function, as well as gaining a better understanding of where their peers are at.
Group norms can be tailored and introduced based on the group and the values of the facilitators. For example, SHIFT instills the group norm of sharing one’s pronouns by introducing ourselves with them, “Hi, my name is Justine and I go by she/they.” This can help everyone in the room feel comfortable sharing about themselves and their ideas. Other group norms have included using “safe words” in the event that the material becomes challenging or too personal, such as “banana,” or “pineapple.” This gives participants the opportunity to let the facilitators know that they need a short break from the material and that they’re allowed to do so. It’s also not a bad idea to help identify the best time for breaks.
We rely on presentations and videos to support this course, including the Soft Skills video, Flipbook tutorial, and Stop Motion tutorial. The soft skills video is provided to you as part of this online guidebook, and is approximately 20 minutes in length. The video tutorials are used to show participants how to animate in two different styles (using flip books, and found objects), step-by-step, and are made available within this online guidebook as well.
The soft skills presentations are conducted through video or PowerPoint. We explore twelve soft skills that relate to assertive communication and emotional IQ. These skills are the foundation of becoming a considerate worker. They help us navigate life and its many challenges, and are an excellent toolkit in developing an understanding of our own strengths, interests, needs, challenges, and triumphs. One at a time we define each skill and discuss their characteristics and the impact that using these skills can have on ourselves, our co-workers, and our lives in general. Presenting the information requires filling in the blanks and using anecdotes or personal stories alongside other clarifying additions in order to provide context to whatever is being presented. Providing personal examples of workplace scenarios in order to illustrate a soft skill in practice is integral to the participant’s understanding and relies on the facilitator’s admission that everyone, no matter their life experience, is always working on these skills. No one is a master at all the soft skills. It also helps to encourage participants to connect with the material on a personal level.
While the soft skills presentation is reviewed, participants should be asked to consider which soft skills they possess and which ones they’d like to work on developing. It is recommended that you ask them to create a list as you go through the presentation to help them self-reflect for their projects later on.
At the end of every class, similar to how we check-in, we also debrief and check-out with participants. During check-out, we engage participants in discussion of how the session went for them, we talk about the learning process, and how participants are feeling. We also review the table of twelve soft skills (e.g. which soft skill did you use today and which will you focus on until our next session?). When debriefing it is important to preface with the idea that there is no wrong answer. Try to offer thanks and highlight achievements at this time.
The debrief doesn’t have to be 100% related to the class activities but could also be something fun or apply to whatever is coming next in their day. It is also worth asking if a participant’s mood has changed or shifted since the check-in. If the number scale was used, a facilitator may ask what number they sit at as they exit the class.
While asking participants to reflect on the class helps retain learning, it’s important to be conscious of how participants are feeling, and if they have the energy to keep reviewing.
The first activity participants are asked to do is a simple flipbook animation on a sticky note pad. This activity is a fun and very easy way to break down the mystery of animation and teaches the fundamentals of how animation works. Starting on the bottom page of a sticky-note pad, draw something simple. Animate this drawing by flipping down the next page and making your next drawing of the same object/character, but shifted slightly in one direction. Think ahead about what kind of movement you want to show, and then create that movement by creating each simple drawing on a new page, and repeating that step of shifting slightly each time. Experimenting with abstract shapes and colours can be fun too!
Check back and watch your doodle come to life! By using your thumb, you can quickly flip through the sticky pad to see your progress. This can be tricky to do so refer back to the flipbook video or tutorials online if you're having difficulties.
Participants are asked to use objects (either provided by the facilitator or found around their space) to create an animation. The animation should portray at least one of the twelve soft skills. Participants should reflect on which skills they’re interested in and think creatively in how they can make an animated scene illustrating that skill by using the objects they have. Any materials can be used (clay, toys, fridge magnets, etc.) and the choice of objects can also help signify the soft skill. For example, using clay, participants could create little figures that start to form a human pyramid representing team building. Or they could animate a string of socks tying together to form a strong bond, which could also represent team building. They can be as literal or as abstract as the participants want – so long as they can confidently explain their reasoning in how what they created represents their chosen soft skill. Quality of the animation is not as important as the process of learning, being creative, and having fun with the soft skill!
Step-by-step instructions on how to do stop motion are available in the tutorial video. Using a cellphone camera to take pictures, participants set up their objects in a scene they’d like to work in. Participants then start taking pictures, stopping between each shot (or ‘frame’) to move their object slowly in the motion they’d like to animate. It is recommended participants mark the edges of their set up so they always know where to position the camera (a tripod can help). After all the photos are taken, participants will compile them into animations using a free app that the facilitator will recommend. A list of apps can be found in this lesson plan. The animations should be around 50 frames (50 photos) for smooth motion. If participants wish to create longer sequences they may.
When debriefing with the group after each animation, try to engage them in a conversation around their work. We sometimes ask participants to guess which soft skill is being portrayed in the animations before having the creator speak about their work. As the facilitator, try to highlight the positives and point out connections to other soft skills the participant may not have noticed in their animation. Take the human pyramid example from before. The participant may say that by stacking on top of each other, the clay figures all display the soft skill of “team building.” However, a facilitator could point out that the figures are also using the skill of “social perceptiveness” in order to understand what the group is doing and how to take part. Being creative in your feedback will help cement the idea that soft skills build on each other, are part of our everyday life, and can be developed in many different ways.
* Found objects around the home such as toys, tools, etc. (anything small and easy to work with)
* Sticky note pad
* Black sharpie
* Construction paper (optional)
* Glue (optional)
* cell phone (enough space for 50+ photos)
* App for stop motion on cell phone (See Resources section)
List of free downloadable phone apps participants can use to do their animations with:
Stop Motion Studios, Clayframes, I Can Animate, PicPac Stop Motion & Time lapse
*Please try these apps out before recommending them to participants since apps often change, no longer remain free or may not work on all certain devices. We encourage you to do you own research on apps*
YouTube examples: Animation examples and tutorials that can help participants learn more about animation.
Sample Lesson Plan Model
The following lesson plans are based on a 2 hour x 4 sessions workshop model. The timelines are only suggestions - pace yourself with the group’s needs and make adjustments where necessary.
During this class you will check in with participants, introduce yourselves, and outline the course content. Based on the duration of the class, create a timeline that suits the needs of the group.
During this class you will check in with participants and introduce the flipbook activity. You will also revisit the information presented in the first class to solidify the points during check-out.
Drawing tool of choice
Drawing tool of choice
During this class you will check in with students, introduce the Stop Motion activity and host a work period.
Drawing tool of choice
Cell phone with camera
Drawing tool of choice
Cell phone with camera
During this class you will host a work period, view final animations and debrief. You will also have a final checkout with course takeaways and goodbyes. Be sure to touch on things learned over the workshops during the animation debriefs and final check-out.
Drawing tool of choice
Cell phone with camera
Animation app of your choice
Celebrate all efforts, creativity, participation and focus on growth!