activity reel: MAKE A MOVIE

Tell your own story!


Materials Needed: Storyboard template (click to download), pencil

Use the storyboard template to plan out your animated film. Draw the main plot points and then caption them at the bottom with a description of what happens in each scene!

Flipbook Animation
Materials: Pencil, paper and stapler, or a pad of sticky notes

You can make your own tiny animation by creating a flipbook.

  1. To make your flipbook, staple together a series of pieces of blank paper, or use a pad of sticky notes.
  2. Start on the first page (with the stapled/connected side of the pages on the left, like a book). On the bottom left hand corner of the first page, draw something that moves, like a ball or a butterfly.
  3. On the next page draw the same image, but make it slightly higher and maybe a bit to the right.  
  4. Continue this process until you get to the last page, just slightly changing the position of your drawing from page to page.  
  5. When you’re done, quickly flip through your pages. You’ll see that your ball or butterfly or airplane (or whatever you decide to draw) moves!

Film It

There’s a whole world of new technology out there which allows you to make simple animations with a smartphone/ipad/computer and some free software. And there are a number of parents and educators involved in the DIY (Do It Yourself) tinker movement with step by step instructions. Follow the PCFF instructions on how to make your own simple stop motion animated film.

Stop Motion Animation
Materials: Materials to make your own characters or use toy figures or household objects (e.g. pennies or cheerios), camera, a tripod or something to prop your camera in a fixed position, and access to a computer with a photo slideshow program

To make your own stop motion films, all you need is 1 or 2 characters (or more), a camera kept in a steady position, and a way to view your pictures in a photo slideshow.

1. Make a hand-sized character out of clay or use other found pre-made objects. You could even use a potato or piece of fruit with googly eyes and toothpicks for arms and legs! Toy figures can also make great characters for a stop motion film.

2. Pick your setting (you can draw a picture to be in the background, or choose a real-life setting). Place your camera on a tripod or propped up in a fixed position so everything in the scene is in view. You’ll want to keep your camera in the exact same position for every picture you’re about to take.

3. Place your character (or object) in the scene, and take the your first picture. Then move your character (or object) just slightly. If you have more than one character, be sure to move each character just a little bit. Imagine what will happen as your characters interact in the scene, and slowly move them toward and away from each other to tell your story. Each time you’ve moved your characters, take a picture.

4. You’ll need to take A LOT of pictures to make a short animation. Take at least 30 pictures for a 30-second film (played at 1 picture per second). You’ll need more pictures for a longer film or to speed up the action in the animation.

5. To play your stop motion movie, upload your pictures to a photo album program and play them as a slideshow. Most programs will allow you to adjust the time between photos. Try setting it to 1 second per picture, and adjust to get the effect you want! Try adding a soundtrack, too!

make your own documentary

Storyboard Your Life
Materials: Storyboard template (click to download)

Even when your film is about something real, you still have to plot out how to tell your story! Make a storyboard about a year in your life or a year in your classroom, something you like to do, something dramatic or important that happened to you, or about someone you admire. What are the important plot points and events in the story you’ll tell? Using the storyboard template, draw a picture of the major events and then caption them with a description of what happens in this event. If you have time and resources, you can start making it into an actual movie!

Vox Pop
Materials: Video camera or audio recorder. Pencil and paper if you don’t have access to video or audio equipment.

The term “vox pop” comes from Vox populi, which means “Voice of the People” in Latin. Sometimes journalists or filmmakers take their camera to the streets and ask everyone they meet one question and then edit the answers together into a tiny film. Vox pops are a good way of collecting a variety of different opinions and perspectives about relevant social issues. During lunch or a free period, collect a vox pop. If you have a camera or audio recorder, use it! If you don’t, you can just write down the answers on a reporter’s pad. Pick a question that is relevant to you. It can be about a big news story, or something closer to home, like the quality of food in the school cafeteria!

Materials: Video camera

Documentary films always have b-roll, footage of everyday life where people go about their business unaware of the camera. Using a camera, collect some b-roll footage. It could be people eating in the cafeteria, changing classes in the hallway, playing on the playground, doing homework, etc. Documentary filmmakers get very good at making their subjects comfortable enough that they forget the camera is there to begin with!  


Materials: Pencil, paper, and a storyboard template; (optional) video camera

Reimagine the ending to the movie that you just watched or rewrite a scene from a different character’s perspective. You can act it out as a group or if you have time and resources, you can shoot your own version! A storyboard might help you organize your ideas!

Click on the PCFF Activity Reel film strip for more ideas!

Activity Reel Film Strip