Saturday, March 2, 2013

Lego Stop-Motion Movies Part 1

This year I went on a grant-writing spree! I wrote one grant and used it multiple times (with Kids in Need Foundation, Donors Choose - Disney and Chevron both funded, the Assistance League and Huntington Beach Educational Foundation) to get 10 iPod Touches with protective cases to create stop-motion Lego movies with. We use them for other things as well, but that was the driving force behind the acquisition.

I hatched this idea when I enrolled my son in a Lego stop-motion movie making course through our city parks and recreation department last summer. He went for a few hours each day for a week and came away with a pretty cool finished movie. One night at home he pulled the app up on my phone and in a matter of minutes he showed me how to make a movie of my own. The wheels started turning. I thought it would make a great project in my class that would incorporate many standards and the kids would love it!

Fast forward to today. I am learning this process as I go, so I am sure I will refine my plan as I go and revamp it for next year, but I am going to share our classroom progress toward realizing our movie making dreams.

First, I showed the students examples of stop-motion Lego movies. I chose some from YouTube that were so amazing they made my head spin a little as well as some that were very rudimentary and more like what I expected to see from my class. We talked about what made them good, what mistakes we saw (seeing someone's hand in a shot), and what we could realistically expect from ourselves this first time out. One of the most amazing stop-motion movie creators we explored was from Michael Hickox. We also found some good tutorials on YouTube

The next time we met, we talked about the stages we would go through to create our movies. We made this anchor chart to show what we needed to do in each stage.

We were ready to start preproduction. Since I have 10 iPods and 30 students, we decided each production team would be 3 people. We talked about choosing teams in which you get along with one another, share similar creative interests and you can make good behavior choices while working independently. The students did a great job breaking themselves into groups. We recorded our production teams and posted it.

The teams met and made circle maps of story ideas and elements they'd like to include in their movies. We talked about what they could realistically include and I urged them to keep this first effort simple. After a few work sessions, each team shared their story ideas with one another. Groups had to have characters, setting, problem and resolution outlined.

At this point, students were ready to start with the movie making. I conducted a whole-group lesson on correct use and care of our iPod cameras and tripods (see below - I found these on for less than $4 each). I showed them how to turn them on, open the Stop Motion Studio app and how to use it. I created a short video to demonstrate the basics and then let them explore. They created small sets and practiced taking photos, moving objects and adding sound (either dialog or sound effects). This free exploration taught them a great deal about how to set up the camera angles, lighting, sound and how to work together as a group.

I knew I needed to have a plan for storage of each team's Lego items, camera and other movie making materials. I bought dish bins at Target and labeled them for each team. These allow for easy storage and use when we are working on our films.
Dish bins from Target numbered for each production team

Our next step is to create storyboards, write the scripts and build our sets. Legos are coming in from home, being borrowed from friends and culled from the classroom Lego bin. So far, the Lego costs have been minimal. I did purchase some of the new Lego Friends small sets with the girl Lego figures in them to capture the interests of the girls in my class a bit more. They were already Lego enthusiasts, but they really like these sets aimed at them. I am anticipating needing to purchase a few more large platforms to create a base for our sets, but other than that, I think we will have everything we need.

Look for part 2 coming soon!



  1. What a wonderful idea, Julie! Your students will gain so much through this project. Congrats on your successful grants to put this in place!


    1. P.S. - Your penmanship on the charts is amazing!!


  2. Lego Stop-Motion Movies Part 1 is a nice post. I like it personally. I am sure its helpful to everyone . Thanks for your sharing. For more information lego storage and display ideas.