Animating the Neighborhood

Download PDF


THE TEACHER ANIMATES the puppet beside the students’ small drawings to demonstrate the importance of proportion as preparation for enlarging their drawings onto mural paper. This exercise prepares the students for developing their sets for the animated movie. Small groups are each given one location from the storyboard to design.

JAMELL, RAUL AND ASHLEY use the puppet to judge the proportions for their Walgreens building. The small group problem-solves how they can all create one set design.

GIANNA, H ERMIONE, AND JANETH are inspired to do the park scene for the movie. They refer to local photos of their parks and images on the Internet. Gianna begins to draw, noticing the curves of the slide.

THE LIBRARY GROUP draws the library and traces it over with permanent fine-line markers to facilitate the painting process. Before they begin to paint, the children have a short painting instruction session.

THE GROUP STRUGGLES with creating a unifi ed drawing on their mural paper. They have drawn independently on all sides and do not have one orientation. After painting the scene collectively, they decide to cut out each piece of the park equipment and use blue kraft paper to create the sky of the park. This new layout allows them to re-orient the set design for their park.

THEY EMPLOY Romare Bearden’s collage method for their scene.

AFTER THE PAINTINGS ARE FINISHED, the students lay them out sequentially in the hall, take a “Picture Walk,” and examine the story for accuracy. The “Picture Walk” strategy is familiar to the students as they have used it before as an approach to early reading.


THE TEACHER RE-READS Apt. 3 by Ezra Jack Keats demonstrating how to break down a book into a storyboard. Using thumbnail sketches of eight different scenes in the book, the students help the teacher sequence them in order.


WE ARE ABLE TO SET UP independent centers at this point in the unit as students have acquired essential skills to complete the animation project. Small centers will allow teachers to work one-on-one assisting with stop-frame animation while the rest of the class works in their centers.


STUDENTS WATCH a demonstration to observe the responsibilities of a “director.” They need to master the commands and project their voices so everyone knows what to do. Princess is the fi rst to take over the role from the teacher. She shouts, “Move the puppets!” then “Action!” to warn all students to move out of the picture.

SLOWLY THE OTHER STUDENTS JOIN in to begin introducing their puppets into the scene. Students begin to identify the need for props for the scenes. In this scene, Gianna, Janeth, and Leslie create a speech bubble with the letters
“zzzzzzzzzz” to indicate the character has fallen asleep.

Photo Essays