Pilgrim Life and Stop Motion

Creating a stop motion on Google Slides with a narrativeI tend to get bored when I do things over and over each year in the same exact way.  I know many of you feel the same way, right?  Well, when we got to early colonial life, I wanted to keep with the same basic idea of what I had done in the past but amp it up.  Since we are so into stop motion in my room right now, I thought I could take a lesson that I had done before and add in the tech twist instead of the paper and pencil style we had done before.  

We began by discussing what life was like for the early Pilgrims in Plimouth Plantation by reading Sarah Morton's Day and Samuel Eaton's Day.  I have an entire class set of each of these books, thanks to my colleague, so that made the reading part very easy.  When we finished reading, the students made a flow map of each of the children's day.  I asked the to really think about the chores and tasks, making note of each.  

I then gave each student a non-fiction sheet with information about what a typical child living in Plimouth would have experienced.  While it mirrored what the two reading books said, there was far more information, so the students weren't boxed in to only those activities mentioned in the books.  You can get that information sheet here.

Here is where we departed from the lessons of yore.  I asked the kids to think of three activities/chores/tasks that a pilgrim child would have engaged in.  The students then needed to create a stop motion video using Google Slides (you can read about how we did that here) that told the story of that pilgrim engaging in those three activities.  Since we had been working on narrative writing, I asked them to make sure that their stop motion had a beginning, a middle, and an end and clearly show those three activities.  The students did not write this down to begin with.  I just asked them to start creating.  

And boy did they create!  They all immediately began to work.  Looking at their flow maps, the stories basically began writing themselves.  Some students found clip art of pilgrims and backgrounds of old time cabins online to add into their stop motion.  Some created their own pilgrims and backgrounds using the shape tools.  The students told of tending fires, making dinner, and herding chickens.  They were so creative yet kept within the constraints of the assignment.

These did take quite a long time to create, as telling an actual story through stop motion takes quite a lot of slides.  But the kids kept at it and made some really cool stories!  

When the stop motion was complete, I then had the kids write the stories they created in narrative essay form.  They added in more explicit details into their narrative than appeared in their stop motion videos, which is fine.  It is easier to add in those details into the writing to develop a full story than to animate them on the screen at this point in their animation career.  They still were detailed.  They still created awesome movies.

What are some ways you have changed your old lessons to include new ideas?

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