Progression in Animation – take 2

DSC00626We had a wonderful day on Monday at our Animation conference.  Oscar Stringer and Helen came along to show us how to animate and we used the wonderful software Zu3D and Hue webcams.  You can see the animations that the teachers made here.

One of the things that I didn’t get time to share on the day was a draft progression in animation.  I  have tried to write this previously but as time goes on, you look back at it and realise that it is wrong.

So here goes for take 2.  This time I have taken the headings emergent, DSC00627developing, experienced and expert as  has been done in the great book Beyond Words: Developing children’s understanding of multimodal texts.

Once again I must stress that this is a working idea and is not the final outcome.


  • take turns to speak and ensure everyone contributes
  • explain their views and listen to others and agree next steps
  • create short, simple texts making adventurous choices
  • combine images and sounds
  • reflect on own work
  • plans are focused on images and are not always referred to when animating


  • organise roles and take on different roles, actively including others
  • distribute tasks and check progress
  • create texts with a beginning, middle and end
  • show imagination through humour, atmosphere and suspense
  • choose and combine images and sound for particular effects
  • if used, voice over is clear and well-paced
  • reflect critically on own work
  • planning acknowledges image, sound, time and number of shots


  • plan and manage a group overtime
  • understand different ways to take the lead
  • understand and use a variety of ways to criticise and respond to criticism
  • vary the pace and develop viewpoint
  • create multi-layered texts
  • use a range of techniques to engage the viewer
  • integrate sounds and images for different purposes
  • where appropriate, layers of sound are used
  • planning is an integral aspect of animating containing all relevant information


  • adopt a range of roles when needed
  • acknowledge others’ views and adapt/modify own views in light of what they say
  • use and experiment with a range of devices to hold the viewer’s interest
  • develop pace and emphasis
  • use terms appropriate for critical analysis
  • entertain and interest viewers
  • where appropriate, create animations that are open to interpretation
  • planning drives the creation of the animation

What have I missed out and what doesn’t fit with what you know about children animating?

A Recipe for Successful Animation


  • A willing teacher
  • Viewing opportunities
  • Reliable software  (Zu3D or I Can Animate)
  • Suitable camera (Hue webcam)
  • Groups of children with something to say
  • Models that the children can manipulate easily (2D, scissors, toys, paper, photos)
  • The 3 Cs (critical, creative and cultural)
  • More than one opportunity to animate throughout the year linked to the curriculum
  • A microphone


  1. Start with viewing experiences and build them in as regular slots throughout the year.  Offter the children opportunities to see animations that extend the range  that they are familiar with. (Cultural)
  2. Following these viewings, allow for time to respond to the animation.  This could be through discussion, use of toys or models, writing or drawing. (Critical analysis)
  3. The first time that the children use the software, model how to use frames.  Use 12 for a lead in, 6 for a pause and 1 for action.  The pauses are very important as they can make the difference between a comfortable and an uncomfortable viewing experience.  Think of them as punctuation! (Creative)
  4. Try to animate something other than narrative at first because it takes a long time to create a small amount of animation and stories are often long and demand longer animations.  Poetry is good.
  5. Allow sufficient time to make the animation and add sound.  This can take some time at first but the more you animate, the quicker this process becomes.
  6. View your animation and think about what you would do differently if you could do it again. (Critical analysis)
  7. Upload your animation to Vimeo so that others can view it and leave comments for you. Watch other children’s animations on the Persistence of Vision Channel. (Critial analysis and culture)
  8. Repeat the whole process as often as possible but at least twice a year if animation is undertaken in every year group in the school.  If not animate three times during the year and try and convince others to have a go.

Learning to Animate, Animating to Learn

As part of a project looking at progression in animation I have been talking to teachers and children about animation and  reflecting on what I have learnt so far.  It will be interesting to see how this changes as we move towards the end of the year and the project but here it is at present.

  1. Watch animations with children. Lots and lots of them.  Discuss them and their meaning.  What is their personal response to the animation?    Use the likes, dislikes, patterns and puzzles to start off discussions.  Ask how did the animator make you feel like that?  This is not wasted time.  This work will be reflected in the animations the children make. The animation on this page created by Yr2 pupils was partially inspired by the Ooglies.  We have linked to several animations on our YouTube channel, you can buy the British Film Institue’s DVDs of animations for children Starting Stories 1 and 2 for KS1 and Story Shorts 1 and 2 for KS2 and there are many on television.
  2. Allow children sufficient time to play with the equipment if it is the first time that children have animated.  Set up the equipment in the classroom and allow the children to use it, explore what it can do and learn from this.  It means that the animations take a lot less time to make when you fnally start.
  3. Keep it simple.  Discuss what the children want their veiwers to focus on when they watch the animtion.  How can this best be shown?  This is what storyboards are for and they don’t have to be drawn.  They could be digital images.  They could be timings and descriptions.
  4. Pauses.  Sometimes animations can be over before you have blinked.  It is important to get the right length of time and to put pauses in.  This enhances the viewing experience considerably.
  5. Evaluate the animations produced.  What would you do differently next time?  And then have a next time animating so that the children can put what they have learnt into operation. And a next time and a next time.
  6. Children work in teams to animate and it is important that the dynamics are successful.  Careful grouping is important as so far in the project the teams that work well together frequently produce the ‘best’ animations.  This would be an ideal time to collect evidence for Assessing Pupil Progress in speaking and listening.
  7. Animations allow children to demonstrate what they have learnt and understood.  Animating a poem allows them to show what meaning they made from the words, animating how a volcano works allows children to demonstrate what they understand about the process.  Use animation across the curriculum.

What have you learnt when animating with children?

Other posts about animation.

Animating Again!

Today was our second day of the animation project that we are taking part in.  The teachers came with animations their children had made, were ready to discuss the learning that had taken place.

I have to say that the animations were fantastic and whilst we talked several things became clearer to me:

  • when working as a team you need to be  effective at sharing the visual idea so that all can buy into it and understand what is to be achieved.  I was however left with the question about what was the best way to do this.  I suspect there is no one way that is the ‘best’ but  ways that work for some more than others.  Whatever it is, sketching, photographing, talking etc this leads to storyboarding and storyboarding is important.
  • group dynamics were important.  Time and time again the teachers reported that the group that worked best together produced a quality animation.  This illustrates the need to teach the skills of collaboration – not just expecting children to be able to do it.  And probably these issues are barriers to learning generally not just animating.
  • managing the timing or speed of action was an important skill that needed further development.  Pauses are important in animation and provide a sort of full-stop or break like a paragraph.  It means that the animation is not action, action, action.
  • some groups had too much going on in their animation.  I can only liken this to writing that goes on and on but doesn’t really go anywhere and the reader is not really sure what to focus on.  The learning from this is that the children need to develop the idea of directing the viewer’s attention.  Other groups didn’t have enough going on.  I often read writing like this which is what I call minimalist.  Again I think the children need to focus in on what they want their veiwer to ‘see’.

This will  inform how we develop our teaching of animation over the next few months.

As we are teaching animation at least three times across this year linked to poetry we then went onto look at how we could provide a different stimulus for the children and so started with sound.

We listened to three sounds, one at a time and talked around the images they generated for us.  This was a fantastic activity because the longer we did it the less literal the images became and then it started getting interesting.  From this sound we then created an animation and finally  added the sound by exporting the images and importing into Movie Maker.  Below are two of the results.  We did have one crash and  loss of  work.  It’s a painful way to learn to save, save, save.

I will write about the children’s animations in another post.