This year I'm teaching a new class, an advanced technology class for 7th graders. In our district, we do not have curriculum for technology classes, so I get to create all the projects my students will work on. I love coming up with new ideas, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to plan for a new class. This class has the added challenge of being marketed as "advanced" but does not have any prerequisites, so my students may come to me with very little computer experience. As a result, I decided to come up with projects that ultimately require a lot of different skills, but are broken down into mini-assignments to be more manageable for my students.

My favorite assignment for this class involves Claymation. Through this project, students learn how to use Microsoft Word, Windows Movie Maker, wikis, discussion boards, digital cameras, tripods, and microphones to record sounds on the computer. The students have really enjoyed this project and have created some great little movies. Below is the lesson plan for this project and the steps that were taken to make it a success. Many ideas and components of this project were found online.  If you Google "Claymation Lesson Plan" you will find a wealth of resources. Other parts were borrowed from another great tech teacher and former co-worker, Sandy Wilder.
A claymation monster made by one of my students.

Part 1: Understanding Claymation

I kicked off this unit with the trailer from Chicken Run.

After students watched the trailer, we discussed what claymation is and the amount of work that goes into a feature length claymation film. During the discussion, the kids asked how long it took to make Chicken Run. We looked it up and found the following information from a website called Bubblegun:

Work on Chicken Run begun in 1996, though principal photography took around 20 months for a crew of 40 animators to complete. The total crew numbered 457....The first model of each character – the bodies of which comprised of foam latext constructed around a steel armature – cost around £10,000. Subsequent models cost "just" £2,000. Each of the chickens in the film had dozens of different mouths, shaped to vocalise each letter of the alphabet, as well as to convey emotion.

There are 24 individual poses per second of film in Chicken Run. The team managed to get 100 seconds of film in the can each week.

The actors were required to record their lines in up to 40 different ways, and the animators would later choose the line which best matched the animation. Even then, the actors were often called back to re-record dialogue. Gibson’s co-star Julia Sawalha said it was the most difficult job she’s ever done. However, because of the meticulous planning which went into Chicken Run, the film only required four weeks of post-production.

After our discussion, the kids received their first assignment:
(Students are assigned to groups of 3 or 4 and are instructed to choose a team leader. The team leader's job is to report progress to the teacher & help ensure that everyone is contributing to the project.)

Research Claymation and write a summary about what you find. Include:
1. A definition of claymation in your own words.
2. How are claymation videos created?
3. Create a glossary including the following terms & their definitions. Be sure to use your own words:
*stop motion
*animation loop
*jump cut

Below are some resources to help you understand Claymation techniques. Be sure to summarize your findings using Microsoft Word and keep your summaries in your Computers 207 folder.

Be sure to document the source of your Internet research for your notes.

Introduction to Claymation

Claymation overview

Excellent student designed site with lots of information about Claymation. Includes lots of samples of student work.

Claymation – how to materials

Student examples of Claymation projects

Gumby World

Create a Wiki in Edu called "Claymation Definition & Terms" & paste your work into the wiki. Keep in mind that if several of you are working on the wiki at the same time, whoever saves the wiki last wins -- only their work will show, so be sure to take turns. Not all wikis work this way, but this one does.

At the bottom of your work, write everyone's names and what they contributed to this assignment. For example: John- Wrote first 5 definitions & helped find some of the steps of the claymation process.

Part 2: Claymation Storyboard

Objective: Create a Storyboard for your Claymation project.

Before You Begin:
Watch a few of the samples below to get an idea of how detailed and long your movie will need to be (These and more samples can be found at the websites in Part 1). Some of these are done better than others, so take note of that too. What was done well? What would you want to do better? Etc.

Background:“Storyboarding” usually means arranging a sequence of images for a film, commercial, or animation. It is important to storyboard an animation for several reasons.

You can save countless hours of unnecessary editing by doing a storyboard. It is especially important in animation. Unlike live-action filming where the filmmaker shoots tons of footage and then edits it later, an animator wants to throw away as little of his/her work as possible because it is more work to animate a scene than it is to film it in live action. If you plan it all out in advance you don't have to worry about wasting time animating scenes that you'll never use.

Another reason why a storyboard is important is because it is a way to uncover problems and to fix them while they are still easy to fix.

In a storyboard, you're not only describing the plot but all information that's important to your scene, such as the mood, the setting, and anything else that you think will help the audience understand your story.

To create a storyboard, you should follow three basic steps. First is analysis, which is breaking down your story into its component parts. Second is evaluation, which is judging and choosing what shots angles and frame sizes you will put in your project, and third is synthesis, which is the process of actually developing and putting your project together. (information from PWC)

Required information & Planning Hints:
**Your Claymation piece should be under 1 minute long.
**You will be sculpting the characters from clay. The clay comes in 4 colors: red, yellow, green & blue.
**Backgrounds can be drawn at home & props can be brought in from home as well.
**You can bring in fishing line to attach to your characters if you need them to appear to fly, fall, etc.

**Summary of the story line
**Notes describing what will happen in each major scene.
**Include several drawings (at least 3) of how you intend your characters and background to look.
**Include sound effects/speech/music that you plan to include in each scene.


How to turn in this assignment:
Hand in your storyboard with all team member names written on it.

Prepare an answer in Edu, and write a project reflection in complete sentences. Be sure to paraphrase the question in your answer.

The reflection questions are:
1. What were your contributions to the creation of the storyboard?
2. How well did your team work together? (i.e. was everyone on task, did some people contribute more than   others, etc.) Write details.
3. How will your storyboard help you in creating your Claymation?
4. What, if anything, do you need to bring from home to make your Claymation?

Part 3: Props, Sets, & Characters

Objective: Decide on what props, set pieces & characters will look like.

With your team, create a Wiki called "Props, Set, & Characters."

In this wiki, clearly explain what props and set pieces you will need for your claymation movie. List who will be responsible for bringing/creating each piece.

Create a detailed drawing of each claymation character you will need to build on a piece of paper, complete with colors, dimensions, etc. Turn the paper in for approval when it is complete.

(Once students have finished this step, they may begin to sculpt their characters. Be sure to use non-drying clay, as the figures will be used for several days and will be worthless if they dry and crack. Figures with moving parts should be built around a wire armature --we used pipe cleaners. One of my students brought in a great book with instructions for how to make clay figures. I would suggest buying one or two of these for your students to refer to.)

Part 4: Create Your Claymation Movie
(Before students begin putting together their movie, discuss how to use the digital caneras. Emphasize that tripods must be used & that the cameras and sets should not be moved at all between shots. Remind students that numerous photos must be taken to create a simple movement, such as waving, to prevent the animation from being jumpy. Encourage students to assign one team member to be in charge of the camera, while others are responsible for individual characters.)

Objective: Use digital cameras and Windows Movie Maker to create your Claymation movie, complete with title, credits, & sound.

Hints & Tips:
**Before adding any photos, set the length of each clip to be as short as possible so you won't have to adjust them each later. In Movie Maker, go to the "Tools" menu & select "Options". Click on the "Advanced" tab, then in the "Default Durations" section, use the arrows to make the "Picture Duration" & "Transition Duration" as short as possible. (.125 for pictures, .25 for transitions)

**Drag in all of your photos IN ORDER, then play your movie to make sure everything looks the way you had hoped.

**If it does, start adding titles, credits, & sound effects. You can find sound effects online at Partners in Rhyme. You can also find songs and other music clips on this site.

**If you need to record your own sounds, let me know and I will provide you with a microphone.

Turning in your movie:
Save your file as a movie (you will see this option in the File Menu) in your group folder. Name it "Group xx" where xx is your group number.

Prepare an answer in Edu & attach you movie, then type a reflection. Include answers to the following questions: 
1. What did you like or dislike about this project? Explain. 
2. What was easy or hard for you? Explain.
3. What did you learn from this project? Explain.
4. What would you change about this project? Explain.


  1. This is very inspiring! Do you have any sample videos that the children made?

  2. Glad you like it! You can check out a couple of our samples at:

    Feel free to download and use in your class, just give us credit. :)

  3. This is the best lesson I've seen on the subject. Kudos!

  4. @helpertouch: Thanks! It was a lot of fun to put together and of course even more fun to do with the kids!

  5. Hello i'm Samantha and i am writing a paper on claymation and was wondering if i could e-mail you some interview questions to fill out for me? Please give me an answer as soon as possible, thank you.

  6. @AnimeFrenzy93: I'd be happy to help!

  7. 1. Why did you decide to teach/pursue Claymation?

    2. Where have you worked in the past?

    3. What schooling or training did you receive?

    4. What type of equipment is used to capture Claymation?

    5. What types of programs are typically used in the process of creating a stop motion film?

    6. Are there specific clay’s that are used in Claymation?

    7. What type of lighting is best to use for Claymation?

    8. What types of materials are used for the characters or models used in Claymation films?

    9. About how long would it take you to create a minute worth of footage?

    10. In your work place how often is Claymation used to create a video?

    11. How would you make a modal move along with a voice actor’s voice?

    12. How are other effects created, such as an explosion or tornado?

    13. What are the ways to create/establish the setting/scene background?

    14. How much experience would you say is needed to be a great claymater?

    15. How much profit, will a typical Claymation make compared to a regular animation?

    16. How much should you move the character or model to get a smooth movement in a film?



    Contact Info:

  8. @AnimeFrenzy93: Will you email me directly with your email & I'll send you the answers that way? Thanks!


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