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Primary animation

Introduction

These pages provide an introduction to animation and give some ideas for projects and lessons across Key Stages 1 & 2.  Animated films and the skills needed to produce them can provide a stimulus to learning across the curriculum – especially in Art and Design, History, ICT and Literacy.

When talking about animation in class, it is important to stress that 'animation' is a performing art rather than a graphic art. The drawings and models replace actors and actresses, so when children are creating their own animation it is important to approach it through the creative skills they would use in drama rather than graphical skills.

Children will have their own preconceived ideas about what animation is from what they have seen at the cinema and watched on television. Try to alert them to the fact that animation is not just Dreamworks and Disney Pixar. Animation is image manipulation and it can be used on any object.

Getting started

Animation is a co-operative exercise and will utilise the varying skills of the children in the group getting the best out of them. You will find that where some children can draw well, others will be good at operating equipment or playing instruments; or performing voices or acting as artistic directors. Three rough divisions can be used for group work: pictures, sound and equipment.

Pictures

Pictures can come from various sources: they can be drawn, taken from magazines or compiled on the photocopier. Ask the children to research the images before they start creating them: all good animators spend a lot of time looking for source material and practising before they actually do any artwork.

Sounds

Background music and sound effects come from CDs or software.  The children can use their voices, musical instruments or everyday objects to make different sounds.  A quick search on the internet for 'free sound effects' will lead you to some useful sounds to add to your animated movies.

Equipment

This can be as basic or as fancy as you feel comfortable with. The basics that you will need for animation are pencils and paper.  There are many animating software packages that can be installed onto your computers relatively cheaply and easily; you may also want to look into to simple cameras for capturing stop-motion animation. There is some advice on equipment for schools in the document Using Film in Schools: A Practical Guide