Teaching with Technology: Stop Motion Videos (Sea Anemones)

We gave new life to our sea animal research project by turning our research information into a stop-motion video!
We gave new life to our sea animal research project by turning our research information into a stop-motion video!

My son’s science class in our co-op finished learning about the ocean just before break. Although there is not often take-home work, the teacher did in this case give the class an assignment: learn about a sea animal and report back to the class in some sort of presentation (a poster, a pamphlet, etc.). Since I absolutely love everything to do with the Coral Reef, I strongly encouraged him to so something coral reef related. (I would have been happy with something else if he really wanted.

It was finally time to give him all the pieces of my Coral Reef Unit! When he found the drawing component a bit too tedious, we changed is final project into a stop-motion video using a simple app on his tablet!

I loved finding real pictures from the Coral Reef to include in the ebook I wrote for this unit, and the game always proves to be fun too. But first, Raisin had to do his animal research.

book coverRaisin started by reading the ebook. He seemed interested in the ebook. Maybe it was the fact that I just plopped it onto a tablet for him to read that made it that much more fun!

After he read it, he decided he was most interested in the sea anemone. I have to say, I thought the sea anemone would be totally boring. But at least he wanted to stay in the coral reef, and honestly, sea anemones were a lot of fun to learn about!

Raisin’s favorite fact he learned: sea anemones eat, poop, and have babies out of the same one hole in their bodies!

Raisin answered the basic questions about the animal on the prompt page included in the pack. Then I wrote his answers in the mini-book. The idea was that he would illustrate the mini-book and present that to the class. However, after two pages, he was bored with coloring a sea anemone.

I know my son. I know that drawing is painful. Using technology and playing with play dough, on the other hand, are two things he could do all day.

Time for the tablet again!

We had already downloaded and used ClayFrames before (the Lite version is limited to 50 frames, so you must purchase the full version to really do anything useful).

It is so easy to begin making movies with this app! ClayFrames lets you set up your scene and click the camera; then it shows a shadow of the previous image so you can set up the next one. You don’t want to move the items to quickly or it looks jerky. Then after a few hundred of these slight movement pictures, you can watch it!

Other features of ClayFrames:

  • Easily change frames per second from 4 fps to 20+ fps.
  • Select frames and move them or reverse them. (Tip: This is how we accomplished the word spelling in Raisin’s clip below. We first shot the word then shot it getting mushed up and rolled away. Then we reversed the frames.)
  • Narrate your text or upload your own sound track.
  • Duplicate frames as many times as you want.
  • Write on the images.
  • So many other features we have not figured out yet!

We did have a few frustrations with the app. Because we were shooting using a tablet camera, we only could prop it up as the case allowed. This limited our work area. Without a stand of some kind, it would nearly impossible to keep the tablet steady. Lighting was also tricky because of the same reasons. Also, sometimes it was difficult to select the proper frame: I’d click and it would scoot to the frame next to it. Writing on the screen was pixelated, and you had to do the narration all at once: You could not edit the audio.

Those are small issues for a $3 app that we are still getting the hang of. We had a lot of fun putting the video together.

To be a smooth stop motion video, it should be at least 8 frames per second. Because Raisin wanted to narrate his video himself, we had to slow down the video to 5 or 6 frames a second so he had time to say all that he wanted to say and still be (mostly) understandable.  I included subtitles on it too, though, because I know he is hard to understand! (One of these days, all his teeth will grow in!)

At any rate, I hope you enjoy his video, “Sea Anemones”!

My Coral Reef Product include a full-color informational text ebook with real photographs of coral reef life. Included with the ebook (also provided in booklet format) is a set of comprehension questions and writing prompts for researching about coral reefs and coral reef animals. Finally, the Coral Reef Game provides 40 questions for reviewing the details read about in the informational text. I didn’t even get a chance to show you the game in this post. When we play it next, I’ll make sure to post about it.

Coral Reef Systems is available at my Shop, TeachersPayTeachers, and Teacher’s Notebook.

Note: I was not compensated for sharing my thoughts about ClayFrames.

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