Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Curriculum Stories with StopMotion Animation by Jan Cosmos

These are my notes from Jan Cosmos’ (Viterbo University) presentation, “Curriculum Stories with StopMotion Animation” at the 2013 ICE Conference outside Chicago, Illinois. MY THOUGHTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

Since technology projects can be so time consuming, we really need to focus on project ideas that are WORTH the kids spending time on

story is the way we create a connection between the teller and the listener
– we create bonds this way:

I started using multimedia with students around 1975
– we had a mimeograph machine!

What can you do because of what you know?

Usually you can have students READ OUT LOUD to figure out timing for their projects
– we read a lot faster silently than we do out loud

Stopmotion video is so hands on, manipulative, & collaborative: wonderful for learning

Sticky Tack” is one of your best friends in these projects, so you can hold down characters’ frets

teacher defines the curriculum focus: presents an overview of:
– significance
– class goals
– end product

teachers points students toward avenues of research

teacher and students come together in large brainstorming session to categorize, evaluate, and list what research is significant (worth communicating and remembering)

The idea of embedding the major concepts, facts, etc into a STORY SCHEMA is introduced

Teacher provides guidelines for the story that include
– beginning, middle and end
– heroes, antagonists, supporting characters
– conflicts, obstacles, thresholds, climax…

Teacher allows time for individual, then small group “mulling over,” the various ideas for story. A writing assignment?

Ideas are brought back into a large group brainstorming session. Together refine, hone, and chisel out a story line

In large group, brainstorm, plan, pool resources for what is seen on the screen
– this may be done early in planning as it may play a role in determining the plot and characters, etc.

Things to consider:
– representation of characters: drawn cut outs, action figures, clay, objects, other things?
– backgrounds (artwork, photo posters, use chroma key…)
– props

Students form small group production teams for doing the animation and video production

Writing is a recursive process
– different things play against each other

try not to just duplicate something already created, be as creative and innovative as you can be!

think in advance if anyone could be offended by the stereotyping of villains and others in our story

usually there is NOT a good story unless there is CONFLICT

We use Frames software by Tech4Learning

Put some other 3D objects in your scene
– creates a sense of reality and depth into a scene

Music is a BIG part of animation

Jan showed us a final video she made with students in a weekend class for credit: 5-10 pm on Friday and 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, subscribe to Wes’ free newsletter. Check out Wes’ video tutorial library, “Playing with Media.” Information about more ways to learn with Dr. Wesley Fryer are available on

On this day..