A Maker Day is a fantastic way to offer a proof of concept and a trial run for establishing a dedicated makerspace within one’s school. I will start my first year teaching 7th grade English Language Arts in September, and I am always looking for wars to engage students in authentic, hands-on learning activities as a break from the traditional reading and writing. One project that caught my eye was Easy Stop Motion Animation for Beginners. I did stopmotion projects for both school and for fun when I was in high school, and I did one in the past few weeks for EDUC 586 that I connected to English Language Arts content standards: produce a stopmotion animation that interprets a scene from a literary text. I used a scene from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!
If I were to implement this project in my classroom, my first stop would be my school’s library media specialist, who can consult on digital tools that are approved for district use—and, if there are none, help me in the process of submitting tools for district approval. Because my school has a one to one Chromebook device program, I would hope to use the Stop Motion Animator Google Chrome plugin, which can use the Chromebook’s built-in webcams, along with a video editing software like WeVideo to help students add audio on top of their animations.
Funding and resources are, of course, another barrier to completing the project. The biggest drain on a makerspace fund is usually acquiring technology, which is already covered by students’ Chromebooks. However, stopmotion animation also requires that the filmmaker use posable figures and interesting backdrops. Happily, many of these supplies can be found in the household. For my Harry Potter animation, for example, I used tissue boxes, cardboard boxes, paper, a blue tee shirt, and cotton balls. Of course, I did have Harry Potter LEGO figures and sets to use, which significantly assisted the project. I would encourage students to see what old toys and action figures they have at home that might be repurposed for stopmotion animation. I could also reach out to families for donations (of old toys and household goods) as well as visit local garage sales and thrift stores to purchase low-cost supplies. I could also coordinate with the art teachers in the building to see if they have supplies to donate (like clay) and/or could donate some of their classtime to helping students produce the sets and figures they would need for the project.
I do think my administration would approve of this project as it engages students with technology while also connecting to state standards for English Language Arts. Furthermore, it creates end products that are easy to show off as exemplars of student learning. While I think the administration would be a little more reluctant about the resources required to set up a dedicated makerspace, projects like these offer a pathway toward realizing that vision. Either way, Martinez and Stager (2019) recommend the ask for forgiveness, not permission adage when it comes to incorporating making in schools, as this kind of one-off project can act as a dry run, and students’ projects will “create notable examples of success” that can then be forwarded along to reluctant parents and administrators (p. 242).
Gonzalez, J. (2018, May 20). What Is the Point of a Makerspace? Retrieved from Cult of Pedagogy: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/makerspace/
Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (2019). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom (2nd ed.). Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.
TinkerLab. (n.d.). Easy Stop Motion Animation for Beginners. Retrieved from TinkerLab: https://tinkerlab.com/easy-stop-motion-animation-kids/