With the spectacular popularity of the stop motion animation kits with students, animation is getting easier and easier to do in the classroom and at home. But while the process is getting easier and cheaper, some teachers are a little torn over the use of animation in the classroom – lots love it but sometimes people feel it can be a time-consuming waste of precious classroom hours, with students spending a long time perfecting something that they don’t believe has huge educational value. In fact, there are fantastic concrete reasons to take advantage of the massive range of animation tools out there specifically for use in a teaching environment. Here are just some of them!
1. Communication Skills
The traditional pen and paper essay-writing format isn’t for every student. Animation is a brilliant and innovative new way to encourage children to communicate stories, ideas and concepts in a creative and original way. It can be particularly useful as a tool to encourage the creativity of students who find spelling and grammar a challenge, because it liberates them from the anxiety of always worrying about technicalities and enables them just to concentrate on the story instead. Domo is a great animation tool to encourage students to get started, as it provides a clear, colourful cartoon environment but also introduces ready-formed characters children can relate too, with their own personalities and habits, which give a helpful springboard to possible plot ideas. Another brilliant storytelling tool is Myths and Legends, which allows students to create animations for popular historical stories and myths, with the extra added bonus that they can also record a narration soundtrack to play over the top, adding a whole new level of creativity and communication practice! Teachers have to sign up first to create an account for students to use.
2. Building Bridges
Thanks to the edtech explosion, creating animations is by no means a solitary pursuit. The process on many websites now also involves sharing your creations with your peer group, whether within the classroom or further afield by making students’ movies visible to others using the same tool. The opportunities this provides for collaboration with students from all over the world should not be underestimated, and it carries the additional benefit that a language barrier can be immediately overcome through the medium of animation, so it is a fantastic starting point for building up ties and a sense of community across borders with your students. Kerpoof is a great animation site for this as it allows students to link back to the url of what they have created, and also has options for different types of animation, including a letter which can be specifically addressed – perhaps to an animated penfriend!
For many students, self-expression can be a huge challenge, and traditional methods of art such as drawing and painting, while hugely enjoyable for some, can feel difficult and worrying for those who don’t necessarily have a huge amount of natural artistic talent. But the beauty of animation is that ready-made characters can be placed into pre-drawn environments, while students still retain the creative reins by choosing everything from plot to speech bubbles. Sites like the Zimmer Twins are an excellent example of this perfect balance between pre-prepared materials and lots of free creative choices. Better still, it has a special website designed specifically for use in schools, with class management tools built in for teachers.
4. Technical Skills
While there are a range of fantastically simple animation tools available for younger children, it can also be a great gateway for older students to learn much more difficult technical skills too. The Anim8or tool is the perfect example – it allows students to use algebraic and calculus functions to create 3D animations and also teaches them a range of useful computer skills. A guide is available to download so students don’t have to be experts before they begin!
5. Presentation Skills
The other brilliant thing about animation is that it provides an exciting and dynamic platform to encourage students to give interesting, engaging class presentations. Gone are the days of students falling asleep in the back of the class while their classmates stood at the front of the room, reading from a sheet of paper! Animation is a great way to encourage students to put greater effort into their presentations, making slide shows, visual explanations of concepts and really visually connecting with their audience, a great skill for the future. The excellent Go Animate 4 Schools website is specifically designed for this kind of work, and provides a safe, secure environment specifically made for use in schools.
What are your favourite tools for having fun with animation in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below!
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, jurvetson.