Claymation Baby!

The claymation videos are in the final editing stages. Some (like the one embedded at the end of this post) have already been uploaded to youtube. This is my second year doing this project and I have to say, it only gets more and more fun. The 8th graders were on fire to be in art this year (well, I’ve worked hard to make sure they are that way anyway)! One student eagerly asked me “Ms. J., now that we are in 8th grade do we get to make the claymations?” Nothing like knowing your classroom reputation proceeds your actual class.

In the next few weeks I’ll be providing links here to all of the lessons contained within the claymation unit (be prepared, it is a looong unit, but it is FULL of valuable -I think- stuff) on my online lesson plan site. But, until then, I thought I’d give you a little picture taste of how this all goes down:

Step 1: Students were placed into pairs. They wrote a simple story for their claymation (must be totally original). We did a lesson on storyboards. Students had to create a storyboard for their claymation and sketch out each and every character (I told them to keep it to 3 or under).

2. Students particpate in a lesson on character design. They first build pipe-cleaner skeletons for their characters. The pipe-cleaner gives the clay something to hold on to and prevents parts from falling off as they are posed during the claymation video shoot.

3. Students add clay atop their skeletons and add embellishments etc.

4. Students particpate in a lesson on set design and create sets (the sheet of paper is folded in half for a background and ground). They are able to use anything they like in the artroom to color their set: construction paper, paint, markers etc. etc.

4. Students participate in a lesson in shooting “video” for claymation (really just taking photographs). You can see in this photo one the pairs busily shooting their “video.” Note how they have their set, camera, and angle marked with the tape. This ensures that they will be in nearly the same place the next time they shoot (provides continuity in your animation framework).

5. Students import photos to a computer, edit the photos in Movie Maker, research royalty-free music and add/edit it to Movie Maker, add credits and intros, publish as a .wmv file, and (finally) turn in to the teacher on a usb drive to be uploaded to youtube.

Here is one of my favorite current students claymations on youtube. You can view all of the currently uploaded student claymations from this unit by clicking here.

Annnd, you can view on of my favorite claymation videos from last year below:

6 thoughts on “Claymation Baby!”

  1. Patty, I'm working with 1/2 that size in a class. . .But, I've taught classes with about 35 kids in them (just not this particular unit). I think it could work -keeping them in pairs- as a whole class until you got to the point where they have to work with the computer. At that point, I'd start another project with the whole class (to work on) and pull out pairs individually to work on their videos on the computer. They do require a lot of support when on the computer portion. So, by limiting the # of groups working on the video editing portion of it, you can give them more attention, and keep the rest of the group occupied on the 2nd project etc. I've made a wiki with click-by-click instructions for the students to follow for the computer portion. It begins with opening the digital camera and removing the SD card and ends with uploading to youtube. I'm going to post all of it here within the next few weeks. Thanks for your comment!

  2. I'm cracking up over Dino's Dinner, and that the credits that are longer than the video. Are those two kids as funny as their credits? Made my day! 🙂

  3. Aww thanks Phyl. Yeah, those two kiddos are hilarioushere is sort of an inside joke about the “beautiful fingers.” A kid last year was on allergy medicine and it seemed to have caused his “filter” to turn off. And, he just started waxing all poetic about this particular girl's hands etc. The boy is kinda wild and mischevious and the girl he was apparently crushing on was top of the class. It just kinda amused everyone a lot. . .And, now the girl in question has become that girl that all the boys like. But, she doesn't date etc. etc. So, they have all taken to calling her (in a sweet, jokey way) the “dreamcrusher.” Soooo (this is a loong story), the credits were sort of her, and her partner's way of teasing back and having some fun with it. Her partner for the movie is kind of that kid that has a hard time reining in his excitment and she had to work hard to keep him on task with her, so that is in the credits too. You gotta love that kind of funny creativity.

  4. Hannah – Thanks for your comment. It really depends on what you want to do with the Claymation. I take my student through making a thaumatrope, a flipbook, a storyboard, and then shooting claymation. But, to shorten the unit, I would suggest a storyboard project (you can have the kiddos color them for presentation-worthy work). For the claymation itself, you need to allow at least 1 class for making main characters, one class for shooting, and one class for editing. I only see my middle school students -who do this unit- once every other day for 18 weeks. . .So, I average about the same as you. I like to turn this into semester-long unit. There really is SOOO much art-wise that you can incorporate into the project. I presented my unit and make a wiki that takes educators through how-to teach a claymation unit -or at least how I teach it- you can visit it

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