Lego Animations

I have been doing Lego animations with children for many years now particularly with year 5 and 6. I usually use I Can Animate with Hue web cams but sometimes use much simpler software and more basic cameras. This week, in one of the after school clubs that I run, I was pleasantly surprised by the results.The children only had an hour and we were in a computing suite with limited desk space. I always stress that the animation should tell a story, so there should be a story line, and that small movements lead to a smoother animation.

See what you think of these two animations:

Ghostly goings on with Pivot

I often use Pivot to introduce animation, it is a nice, simple to use program with no cameras or wires, clay or scenery. You can very quickly get across the idea of a timeline and the need for small movements to give smooth animations and children can produce stunning results in a very short time. The last session that I do on Pivot involves adding a background and this week this session just happened to coincide with Halloween. Here are some of the results – I particularly like Medas’ piece which includes a very professional looking text animation, Andrew’s piece where the man gets closer and closer, and Sivan’s piece where the character disappears into the distance.





Pivot Football

When teaching animation the early lessons are focused on getting quick results with a story line and smooth animation. Making the Pivot stick characters move realistically and smoothly isn’t easy, the first results are often jerky and lack meaning. I like to challenge the children in their second session to use one or two characters playing with a ball. Today’s after school club produced some pleasing results.






Fair Trade Film Competition – Finalists

Fairtrade Yorkshire and Leeds DEC ran a “Take a Step” competition during Fair Trade fortnight this year where children were invited to show the journey of a Fairtrade product in a fun and interesting way. The finalists have just been announced and you can see the videos on the Leeds DEC Facebook page or Fair Trade Yorkshire site. Have a look at all 5 finalists and vote for your favourite. There are some excellent, humorous and creative entries. Voting ends on Friday 27th April. Since it is Facebook you can also add comments as to what you think of the videos.

I have to declare an interest in that I helped out with one of the videos but in the interest of FairVoting I’ll not tell you which one!

Leeds DEC also have a “Global Advocate Exhibition” consisting of 10 banners that tell inspiring stories of local people making a global difference, and includes stories of pioneering work in the fair trade sector and beyond. This is available for hire and would be suitable if you are hosting an event and would like to provide some inspiring stimulus for your participants. There are also separate teacher packs available. If you are interested and want to know more contact Hannah Dalrymple at or on 0113 3805655

Noggin the Nog

The other day I was reminiscing with a young teacher about children’s TV of bygone eras. I was surprised how many of the old programmes were admired by a younger generation. I then remembered Oliver Postgate’s amazing Smallfilms especially Noggin the Nog. There is a lovely tribute to Oliver and his films on the Dragon Friendly Society website.

A year or two ago a friend of mine introduced his KS2 pupils to Noggin and showed them how to do this sort of animation and now that I have been reminded how wonderful the stories are I thought I would share the ideas with you.

There are some good websites for introducing Noggin including the following:

Creating animations like Noggin the Nog used to be very time consuming with the camera technology available at the time. With modern computers, cameras and software it is much easier though it can still take some time. Successful animation in the classroom requires careful planning. Pupils need to tackle something that is achievable in the time available and with the resources at hand. To do a project like Noggin the Nog it may be an idea to get the whole class involved in producing a short storyboard and then splitting the story into short episodes that small groups can work on. Each short episode can then be stitched into the main story.

There are lots of suitable software packages available that can be used to do this sort of stop frame animation including:

These software packages will work with most USB webcams and with some more sophisticated cameras. The most versatile webcams I have come across so far are the Hue webcams which are webcams on a flexible neck; the best range of cameras are the Sanyo Xacti (but their tripod bush is right next to the USB connector – derrr!)

If you would like to discuss animation in schools further, would like training or help with an after school or holiday club involving animation do please contact me.

And of course, you mustn’t forget Ivor the Engine!