Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Rounding up the year, part two: Gruffalo's Animaniacs Recipe

One of the things I'm particularly proud of this year is the cartoon my 3rd grade students and I have made. It was an experiment - I'll admit not to really have known what I was up to, but I loved every step of it. So here are some tips, tricks and software support on how to do the same.


  • a story
  • 6 really eager readers, so happy to participate not having a rehearsal was not an option, ever
  • a class of eager voices, willing to repeat a poem indefinitely, even in the middle of a lesson, for no apparent reason, but just to have fun
  • as many little artists as you can summon
  • some music, as described here: http://offlineenglish.blogspot.com/2013/03/music-to-my-ears.html


  • The story I've used - The Gruffalo, is a story we did in class for Christmas. It isn't easy to understand so we did the song first and then read the story and watched the cartoon, but only as an extensive reading activity. I do think it's maybe a little bit too difficult to expect a class of 9-year-old to understand everything or read it out loud. 

  • The readers were the ones I've approached first, because I thought the length of the text might scare them off. But they proved me wrong. We met 5 or 6 times, in part because they needed to practice and in part because I had to figure out audacity and in part because finding a quiet place to record isn't easy in a school. They had difficulties pronouncing all the new words at first, but with each new reading they got more and more precise, fluent and confident. They got used to the sound recorder and the fact that if they make a mistake they can take their time and repeat what they feel should be repeated, and by the end of our practice sessions they really were like little professional cartoon voices. Their enthusiasm was unbelievable.  
  • Then I talked to the artists. As they did not participate in the animation process, they were a little bit more difficult to motivate, but the surprise of the final product was the greatest for them. 
  • I had their drawings scanned and imported into Power Point. I made a presentation of each of the parts of the story - and used the presentation effects to animate the drawings. Then I exported the presentation as a movie. As I did everything backwards and first recorded the sound, instead of first doing the animation and then recording the sound with pupils looking at their characters, I had to think about the length of each presentation and the timing of different words and characters.

  • Now I had a set of silent movies which I imported into Microsoft Movie Maker. I added the sound recordings.

  • I played around with opening and ending credits and that was it. 
Now this is just a short overview, but it is time consuming. And your computer needs to be very powerful for exports of presentations into videos and exports in Movie Maker not to be time consuming. 

But it's worth it. Just watch: The Gruffalo by boys and girls of Elementary School Brajda, Rijeka, Croatia. :)

Love to all,