Everyone has a story to tell, and here are two great ways to do it! First, we made a felt board, which can provide hours of entertainment on their own. You can create different backgrounds and scenes to enhance your child’s storytelling capabilities. In our example, we made an autumn scene with a hand turkey who likes to blow Bubble World bubbles of course (who doesn’t?)! Then we went a step further and used this as a medium to do a short stop-motion animation video. Two stories for the price of one!
Here is what you will need:
- Foam board. We got a pack of three, flat 16 x 20 in boards, but you can go smaller or bigger.
- Felt squares. We went a little crazy and picked up one of each color, plus some extras for the background. Having variety will help your little ones get creative, and will let this be an ongoing activity they can do when the rain comes out.
- Fabric scissors.
- Hot glue gun and glue.
- Camera and tripod – if you want to do the stop-motion animation part!
1. First, we covered one of our boards with light blue felt for the sky. We glued this down with the hot glue gun. Remember that felt will “stick” to other felt without glue. So only glue down what you do not want to change or be able to move during your stop-motion animation. Then we used the green felt for grass, cutting out rolling hills. We put this in place and patted it down instead of gluing it. That way, we can use the solid light blue background again for a completely different scene – like a winter landscape or even for an underwater adventure.
2. Next, we filled in the rest of the background. We made free form white, puffy clouds; used dark brown to create a tree; and cut lots of tiny leaves in fall colors – red, yellow, orange, and light brown. The background objects you create will depend on the scene you choose to make!
3. Then we made the star of our show – a hand turkey! Just like using construction paper, we traced our hand on the felt and then cut it out. For the base, we used a dark brown. To give his finger feathers more color, we traced the finger part on a burnt yellow, orange, and then red felt. We layered these on the brown fingers and glued them down. Next, we cut out brown wings, a yellow beak (two triangles), a red snood, and orange legs (two skinny rectangles). We did not glue any of these to the turkey body so we have the option to move them during the animation.
4. Since we want our turkey to blow bubbles, we printed out an image of our bottle and wand and cut these out. Then we picked several shades of blue felt and made different sized circles for the bubbles.
5. Now it is time to start animating! With the board flat on the ground, we pressed down all of our felt pieces. We left off the bubbles, as that is what will move in our short video. Then we set the board up against the wall. We positioned the camera on the tripod in front of it, and zoomed in so we only saw the board. We took a starting picture. Then we added one bubble starting to come off the wand and took a picture. Then we moved it slightly upwards and took a picture. Then we moved it slightly further away from the wand and took another picture. Then we added another bubble coming off the wand, moved the first bubble slightly upwards, and took another picture. You repeat these steps as many times as you want – the more you do, the longer your video will be. For us, to make it simple, we just moved the bubbles. But we could have had leaves falling at the same time, or had the turkey move or dance. Be creative! Just remember to keep the camera in place and not to move it.
6. Once you are all done, you can combine the elements that go together in little baggies. Here we have the tree and leaves in one, and the clouds and bubbles in another, and the turkey in the last. This will keep them safe for the next play session.
7. Now transfer your photos to the computer to make your movie. We used Movie Maker on our PC, but there are lots of options out there, including apps for your phones if you took the pictures with your phone instead. In Movie Maker, we imported our pictures, made sure they were in order, and set them to appear for only 0.06 seconds each. This can vary depending on how fast you want the motion. Play around and see what looks and feels right for you. We added a front image for the title page, added some text on a few of the frames, overlaid some music (check out YouTube’s music library here), and ended with the credits.
Our little video is pretty short – just 16 seconds. But you can follow these steps to create a video of any length. Check out our final product on YouTube here or click the video below.
Want to know more about stop-motion animation? Check out this TED-Ed blog and the accompanying tutorials here and take your project to the next level. We hope you start animating and would love to see your creations in the comments below!
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