Lesson 8: Perseverance – Stop Motion Animation of Dragon in Action

  1. Introduction
  2. Teach It
  3. Dig Deeper


In this segment students will create a stop motion animation lasting 3-5 seconds of their dragon highlighting their unique traits. 

Time: 3-4 class periods


  • Students will work in groups to choose one of their dragons and use very basic stop motion animation techniques to illustrate the unique trait of that dragon. The animation will have a duration of 3-5 seconds.

Type of Activity:

  • Students collaborate with others in groups of 3-4 to create stop motion animation.

STEAM Habit of Mind:

  • Students will persevere in creating a stop motion animation video.
  • Students will use their curiosity to guide them in experimenting with a new art form.

National Art Standards:

  • Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
    • 6  – Demonstrate openness in trying new ideas, materials, methods, and approaches in making works of art and design.
    • 7  – Demonstrate persistence in developing skills with various materials, methods, and approaches in creating works of art or design.
  • Enduring Understanding: Artists and designers experiment with forms, structures, materials, concepts, media, and art-making approaches.
  • Essential Question(s): How do artists work? How do artists and designers determine whether a particular direction in their work is effective? How do artists and designers learn from trial and error?

Teach It

Materials Needed:

  • Small digital video camera or smart phone (preferably with tripod)
  • Modeling clay or any other materials students determine they need to create the dragon model
  • Basic digital editing software (examples:  iMovie on Mac computers, some free video apps include Animotica, Movie Maker, and video Editor Studio found on the Windows store. Also the open source program Shotcut)


The teacher can offer a brief origin of the motion picture by referring to the Eadweard Muybridge photographs of a horse in motion to see how individual still shots when strung together can create a sense of movement.

The teacher can then refer to the Digging Deeper Lesson 5b video segment of Adam and his students creating a stop motion animation with their own bodies as models, to show the collaborative process of animating with human models.

PLANNING TIME:  Students will determine:

  1. Which of the group’s dragon will be used? It may make sense that the dragon with the trait of an impenetrable chest, would be easier to film, compared to the dragon with the trait of claws that excrete poison. 
  2. What materials will be needed to create the model of the dragon? Or will they use human actors in costume as models? If the latter is chosen, students will have to determine what the “costume” will be.
  3. What role will each team member play in the animation process? Filmmaking is a collaborative art form, and everyone has a role.  Students need to determine who will be director, model maker or costume maker, camera operator, editor, and actor/s (if using human model/s).
  4. What will the action be that is filmed? It would be helpful to create a rough storyboard or shot sheet to plan out each shot. Students should plan for approximately 30 distinct shots to show the action from beginning to end in a 3 to 5 second final edited  “movie animation.”  For a 3-second piece, that would mean that each shot when edited would last only 3 frames. Students should use still photos – not video – for the mode of  “taking the picture”. The resulting animation will have a somewhat jerky motion, but will nonetheless appear continuous and fluid enough.
  5. Determine schedule for filming and editing.

PRODUCTION:  Students will meet at agreed upon time and place with all needed supplies and materials.  Everyone should assume their role, and filming will take place.

Shot set-up – 

  1. Camera/phone should be in a fixed position the whole time, preferably on a tripod.  
  2. The ‘models,’ human or constructed, are in front of the camera. 
  3. After each shot the model is moved slightly to advance the action, and another shot is taken.  
  4. Students will have to be careful not to move the camera when they take each picture.  
  5. Remember that there needs to be approximately 30 shots total that will be edited to be 3 frames each.  (NOTE: Video editing programs allow you to import still photos into the “movie”.  They often have a default that they import the still shot as a 5 second shot.  The editor will have to “trim” each shot to be only 3 frames.)
  6. After filming, the editor will download images to editing software and edit the final animated movement.


Each student animation will be screened for the class, and the class will determine what the unique trait is that is being illustrated.

Dig Deeper (Extension)

Dig Deeper Perseverance