Students Explore Animated Arts

Fifth grade students have immersed themselves in the complex process of making stop-motion short films.

Art teacher and Department Co-Chair Katie Palmer has been helping 5th graders direct their creativity and energy into this project since late January. Students constructed unique sets, sculpted, sketched and cut out characters, captured frame-by-frame footage and added audio and music to enhance their storytelling in the process of creating their works.

During this process, Palmer connected her students with Annie Thomas, a graduate student from Northwestern University’s Master of Science in Engineering Design Innovation program. Thomas is using a design thinking process to create a turnkey kit to assist kids with developing a stop-motion movie, from initial story creation to final editing.

As part of her visit, Thomas shared a prototype of her movie-making kit with some Parker students to get their firsthand feedback on the elements that worked and those that could use additional refinement—an iterative process Parker students are already familiar with thanks to their ongoing work with the school’s Integrated Learning and Information Science teachers.

Palmer commented, “Stop motion is appealing to 5th graders because it allows them to construct a new reality in which they have complete agency. The best part of this unit is the viewing party when peers celebrate each other’s talents, efforts and sense of humor.”

Palmer hopes her students will be able to share their work with the larger school community in the future, but for now a sampling of movies is available below and photos from the process are here.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.