Problem-Solving through Line and Animation - Mid-Pacific Institute

Art - Day

Problem-Solving through Line and Animation

Posted on October 20, 2016

by Abbey Day on October 20, 2016

1st/2nd Grades:

How can I create a line that shows the feeling of sleepy? Or how can I create a wild line, a shy line, or a strong line?

Recently in art, the children created "Book of Lines," in which they learned how to make a simple accordian book, but moreover collected and practiced as many different kinds of lines they could think of. With their vocabulary of lines expanding, they then turned to a different challenge -- how to draw something in one giant line, without lifting their pen. We first looked at images of artists who did this, tracing the line to see how it moved and to make sure it really was just one long line.

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With curiousity and a can-do attitude sparked, the children set to the task of adding to their Book of Lines with these "challenge" drawings: "I challenge you to draw, with one, long line, a rainbow with two clouds!" There were many "ooohs!" and "Oh my gosh!" Excitedly, the children got to work. We created five of these challenge drawings. On the last drawing, the children got a bigger paper and were free to draw whatever they liked, however, it had to be one, giant line.

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The obvious skill the children were practicing in these classes was problem-solving. Perhaps if we were to imagine an inner-dialogue of this task, we would hear: "How can I make a house with windows, a door, a chimney, and smoke without lifting my pen? What kinds of movements do I need to make? How do I get from point a to point b?"

The children are also practicing art technqiues, such as fine motor skills, risk-tasking, and beginning to work with confidence. While using pens rather than pencils is a little scary at first, the young artists begin to create marks with conviction, and are ultimately forced to task risks without the worry that it was wrong and erase it. These drawings are more artistically rich, with a variety of lines, shapes, and forms.

We are continuing our line inquiry, have practiced these long drawings with observation skills outside, and will soon transition to using these long lines to create this year's self-portraits.

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3/4th and 5th Grades:

With the students' interest and love of everything technology, we have be deeply engaged with the medium of stop-motion animation. It's amazing to see students find their flow, many choosing to work collaboratively, for the full 90 minutes of art for last last few weeks.

Animation is full of problem-solving, from the most basic, "How can I set up my iPad so I get the scene?" to "If I want something to look like it's flying, how do I do that?"

Before beginning, however, the students learend about the famous story of photographer Eadweard Muybridge. In the late 1800s, when horse racing was in vogue, the Govenor of California had a wager with friends for $25,000 that when a horse runs, all four feet lift off the ground. His friends disagreed with him, but there was no way to prove it, as our eyes cannot move fast enough to perceive what is happening. Motivated to solve this $25,000 problem, Eadweard Muybridge created a photographic mechanism that could capture the hundreths of seconds of a horse's run, proving that all four legs are indeed off the groud. The students then concluded that the photographs reminded them of a flipbook and we watched one of the first-- a goat climbing a ladder. The students also watched the first animation "Fantasmagorie" and were thrilled to see a clip of Steamboat Willie. Needless to say, the children were excited to get started with their own animations.


For the first couple weeks, students had time to simply explore the process of creating. They only had three rules: to keep a still camera, to make micromovements, and to create and use some kind of background. As a result, there are a variety of animations. Some tell stories, while others are explorating how to make objects move that normally can't.

After time to explore, the 3rd/4th grade classes were charged with another problem to solve: "How can you animate your theories of how the islands were formed through stop-motion?" By bridging the students' inquiry with art-making, they are able to express ideas differently than they can with writing or drawing, especially given the nature of their inquiry question being one of time and movement. Learning this new medium, adds another tool of expression to illustrate their learning, both for now and in the future.

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We are currently putting the last touches on these animations, continually adding new "Now I think..." animations as students learn more in their classrooms.