This project began a couple of years ago when a friend of mine sent me a link to a site called Bembo’s Zoo. The site is basically a take on the alphabet. If you click on a letter, it comes alive in the form of an animal whose name starts with that letter. However, instead of just being a picture of that animal; the animal comes to life with the letters in its name making a simple likeness to it. The letters are animated as they move into place and then the animal leaves the page.
When I first saw this I thought it was great and would make a great digital art project. I trued creating some of my own animals in my sketchbook until I had most of the bugs worked out. I wrote out a unit plan and then had my students try it out. We used our old desktop PC’s at that time with Photoshop Elements 5. The results that first year were mixed as I had the students do their problem solving and designing directly on the computer. This turned out to be very difficult for the students. They had to learn the tools of the program and design at the same time.
The next year, we had the students design out their images in their sketchbooks first and then begin finalizing their image on the computer. This made things a lot easier and as you can see in the Chipmunk example, a much stronger image.
This year we went another step farther. I had always wanted to animate the letters like in Bembo’s Zoo, but felt that Flash would have been too much to teach in the 5 classes. Also, our fifth grade was working on 2 different platforms. Half are on iPads and the other half are using Macbooks. For the students using the iPads, they are working with Flipboom. The students using Macbooks are working with a free online program called Pencil.
Flipboom for the most part has been problem free. Pencil on the other had has been very difficult to work with for some of the students as it does not seem ot have all of its issues worked out yet. When it works it is great and when is doesn’t the kids get very frustrated with it.
Over all, I think they have had a good experience with this project. I have got some good results and the consensus from the students has be that it is a worthwhile project. I have got some issues to sort out with Pencil but overall both programs are easier enough to learn and use.
Here is a link to 2 animations created by a couple of my students. Also here is a image of a chipmunk created by another student.
I hope you enjoy them all.
*The American in School In Japan utilizes Curriculum Mapping with Rubicon ATLAS. The following unit is written in the ATLAS form.
* The Art program at ASIJ has limited contact with the elementary school students. Due to this limited contact, Art only gives an effort grade.