Primary ICT - Luck of the draw

Bringing characters to life through animation can be an exciting prospect rather than a scary one, with help from this technology team

Animation is an element of the ICT curriculum that can inspire fear in teachers. Here at the Staffordshire Primary ICT Team, we started a project with schools around the county to help overcome that.

We were working with key stage 1 and KS2 pupils and had a limited amount of time, so decided that 2-D animation would be the best way to go.

After experimenting with everything from bits of paper to fuzzy felt models, we created our own character for the pupils to bring to life. Bob, the ball, was born.

The project was to be delivered around Staffordshire to groups of teachers and pupils working together for a day to create their own animation.

Once we had Bob, the rest came together beautifully. We sent him out on various missions to rescue his friend Roberta, who was stranded on a desert island.

We created 10 2-D scenarios for Bob, cut out and ready to use. We put together a book, "Mission Impossiball", for the children to base their animations on and a group from each school had to storyboard one of Bob's adventures and then animate that scene using animation software. Each group worked with a laptop, a web camera mounted on to a tripod and Frames animation software.

As soon as the children began to see that they were bringing this piece of card to life, they were enthused. Soon they were designing and cutting out backgrounds and extra props for Bob to use on his mission.

As we completed each 15-second animation of Bob performing amazing feats and changing his expressions, it was time to add the soundtrack.

Children imported different sound effects to accompany their animation, recorded narration and edited the tracks to make them sound like Bob.

At the end of the day, we used Windows Movie Maker to combine all the missions, along with a pre-recorded ending, to produce an animated story.

Pupils loved watching the animations that they had seen the other groups create come to life, as well as their own.

We gave all the participating schools a copy of the Frames software, a web camera and a Bob resource pack to take back with them. Not only had we introduced animation to the staff, we had inspired the children. There has also been an increase in the number of animations submitted to Saftas, the School Awards for Film in Teaching Across Staffordshire, which shows the influence the project has had.

Now, when teachers see a unit on animation in the curriculum, they'll be more excited than scared.

Sally Tippett, Peter Barnes and Alan Foster work for Staffordshire Primary ICT Team. Visit Bob at www.missionimpossiball.webnode.com. For Bob resource packs, call 01785 277948.

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