Enhance Early Understanding of Shape with iPad and Animation Apps

Animating with iStopMotion

iStopMotion brings stop frame animation to early years for the first time. The app allows the children to see their last taken frame on top of the live view of the next image they need to take. This shows them where to place the object they are animating for the next shot. This feature is known as an onion skin. Here is an example of this feature from teachwithvideo.com.


At first glance, this app lends itself perfectly to story telling, language and literacy. This year though, I had an opportunity to enhance shape, space and measure with iStopMotion.

Apps to use – click the app names to take you to the AppStore

Free: iMotion – this app does not have an ‘onion skin’ feature.

Paid (lower price point ): iCanAnimate – this app does have ‘onion skin’ but does not record sound/voice of the animation

Paid (higher price point): iStopMotion – this app has both ‘onion skin’ and sound/voice record.


In December 2014 I was invited by Apple to run workshops at their Regional Training Centre Winter Conference. The 2 day conference featured a field day at Kingsbury Water Park where delegates rotated around a series of activities focusing on enhancing outdoor education with technology. I planned and delivered these workshops alongside animation expert and Apple Distinguished Educator, Sarah Hoyle. Together we told a story of how animation, used indoors and outdoors, reinforces children’s understanding of shape, space and measure.

Classroom Organisation.

I introduced my ‘Genius Hour‘ group to iStopMotion the week before planning for animation and tessellation focused activities. These children got to experience the app in this pre-teach and acquired the early skills to teach others in the class in the coming weeks. The iPads and iStopMotion was available for independent play between Genius Hour and my focused group activity. Children are already confident capturing photograph and video using iPad, as we have practised these skills in the initial weeks of school.

Teaching Tessellation.

I wanted children to understand the movement of shape in the space around them. Children in my focus groups can already make shape pictures, justifying their choices for the shapes they had used. I wanted to move these justifications forward, developing their understanding of where shapes need to move to in order to fit together to make their image. I wanted children to capture their story of the movement of shapes to make their picture.

Next time I come to teach tessellation, I want children to use shapes in context. They need to continue to look for shapes in the environment around them an animate on top of their chosen image. Children need to continue to see shapes in the real world, beyond their own geometric representations of the world.

Teaching Repeated Pattern.

Repeated patterns are a skill that my focus group had mastered and are creating repeated patterns with 3 and 4 colours/shapes. Next time I plan for repeated patterns as a focus activity, I want to deeper children’s understanding of pattern in the environment and how pattern can be used to tell a story in animation.

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