Action Shapes Animation


Now’s the time to bring your vision to life! In order to shoot your animation, you will either need a camera or a tablet with animation software. In this activity, we will be using the stills from our camera to make an animated flipbook!

Age: 6+

Duration: 20-30 minutes

Learning Objectives: Create an animated flipbook using simple materials. Use fine motor skills in “flipping” the book to create a visual animated clip.

You’ll Need:



Children can decorate and color in a large-size sheet of paper to use as a backdrop for your Action Shapes characters. Use poster or Bristol board for this. Place your backdrop on a flat surface such as a desk or easel.


As I’ve demonstrated before in our Action Shapes post, there are several pieces that join together to create the swiveling motion of the character.


Each limb has a pair of fins and a hole for sliding the fins through.


Here’s what the junction looks like when combined. Flatten out the fins to secure.


Now you’re ready to assemble your full action shape!


Color in your Action Shape character with pencil crayons or markers! Create custom props out of scrap card paper that you can use in your animation. for this character, we’ve added a ponytail to the side of the Action Shape’s head and decorated a soccer ball to use as a prop in our film. Check out our process below!


You will need a tripod to properly hold your camera. These can be easily adjusted for height and angle, so you can set it at one point and simply press the shutter button to take as many photos as needed. This will help keep the frames consistent. Note: Be careful you don’t trip over the tripod legs! If you are using a tablet, place the backdrop on a desk and use modular wire shelves to prop the tablet directly on top of the artwork, like it will be grabbing a bird’s eye view. Modular shelves can be found at your nearest department store in the organization aisle. Adjust so that the viewfinder is able to clearly see through the wire mesh.

Use your storyboard as a reference to set up the Action Shapes character. What is your Action Shape’s first pose? Once you have set up the Action Shapes character, take a shot! Go back to your Action Shapes character and slightly move one or two limbs. Take another shot. As you go back and forth between adjusting your character and taking a photo with your camera, you will need to keep in mind that each shot shows one part of an entire action. You need to make all the shots “flow” together so that the starting point of an action smoothly reaches the end.

There are several free-to-use software (called ‘freeware’) online that can string these images together for you into an animation. Simply upload your photos and select them all to get combined into the animation. Most of these software programs will require that your photos be in JPEG format. The final animation will be converted into a GIF, which is a file type that strings multiple pictures together to make a mini video!


Alternatively, you can “flip” your animation into a flipbook! Select all the images in your folder and select them to print wallet-size onto regular 8.5 x 11” (21.5 x 28 cm) paper.


Cut out all the small pictures and stack them in the appropriate order. Staple them all together on the side opposite where you will flip through them.


When finished, hold the stapled side in one hand while flipping consecutively through the pages. As you flip through the pictures, they will string together like a frames in a movie!


Happy filming!


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R10210 Action Shapes


Lights! Camera! Action! These moving people shapes are wonderful resources to use for art projects, and amateur stop-motion videos. Action Shapes are made from sturdy card so that they will hold their shape while you position the characters’ arms and legs. A super-simple design for the pivoting joints helps make the characters easy to assemble and easy to move, too!


Color in and draw details on the character to make self-portraits or develop a unique character. Students may find that having a blank project in front of them seems a little daunting. There are so many ways to decorate the project, but which way is the best way? The Action Shape is made of sturdy card, so you can trace the shape on paper and plan your project.


The Action Shapes characters feature 9 parts: the head, neck and torso, two upper arms, two forearms, two thighs and two lower legs. All of the paired parts connect to each other using pivot points. These pivot points are formed by special fins on certain pieces that go through pivot holes in corresponding pieces. In order to make decorating the Action Shapes easier, assemble the pieces together after you finished coloring them.

Note: Keep track of all your pieces! There are two larger thigh pieces that can easily be confused with the upper arm pieces. If needed, write the location of each piece on the back. You can even specify “left” or “right” depending on how you wish to organize them.

To trace, lay the main body piece of the character onto a sheet of drawing paper. Hold the character steady with one hand while using the other hand to trace around the outline of the character. Use the traced outline as a guide for experimenting with different “looks” for your character. Illustrate different clothes on the character with a pencil; add in a happy face or a surprised face; or, try on different hairstyles. Then, color it in! If you need to re-trace your Action Shapes design, use another sheet of paper and draw a different appearance. Find out which look is best for your character. Once you have chosen your favorite “look,” use the illustration as a reference to draw on the details.

First, use pencil to lightly draw in the details on your Action Shapes character. Use crayons or pencil crayons to add color. The Action Shapes characters are designed on special blank card that accentuate crayon and pencil crayon colors. Tip: Some students find it easier to outline the different parts of the character with a crayon before coloring in the entire area. Use this technique to guide students towards coloring the whole surface area of the Action Shapes before moving on.


Assemble your Action Shape by locating all the “fins” at each of the joints. The fins are designed to slip through special pivot holes in select pieces that go on top. Bend the fins up from the backing and fold in towards the middle. Do not tear or remove the fins.


Next, pop out the pivot hole. Place the piece with the fins underneath the piece with the pivot hole. Pinch the fins together and slide through the notches on either side of the pivot hole. Once the fins are through, fan them out flat over the pivot hole.


Now you can rotate the pieces! This will create movement with your Action Shape character. Look out for our next blog post that will show you how to create your very own stop-motion animation video!

Curriculum Connections

  • Encourage self-awareness through “All About Me” crafts
  • Build moviemaking vocabulary
  • Create storyboards and scripts
  • Develop fine motor skills
  • Integrate digital learning with multimedia art
  • Generate understanding about character poses
  • Exercise gross motor skills through fun posing activities
  • Discover the early history of film and stop-motion animation
  • Brainstorm activities for characters to perform
  • Encourage critical thinking
  • List action verbs for literacy


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Action Shapes


These poseable, personalized action figures are great for setting up easy puppet theatre-style plays or making a stop motion animation movie! Learn more below!


Each Action Shape comes in separate parts laid onto sheets. Before popping out all the pieces, ask students to identify the different parts of the body and label them if possible. That way you can keep track of where each piece attaches. The Action Shapes are great for teaching students about proportions, poses or turning projects into All About Me activities!


Help students orient their Action Shape person according to proper proportions.


As they are putting their figures together, they can start coloring in details. Use markers, crayons or pencil crayons.


Make sure to completely cover the Action Shapes body with color!


The pieces attach together with small fins and slots to keep the fins in place.


Simply pinch the fins together, and slide them through the slots.


Fan out the fins to keep the attachments in place.


This Action Shape was completely colored in before assembly, so the attachments appear seamless!


Now strike a pose!


We even had some of the campers pose in our makeshift puppet theatre!


Everyone else got in on the fun too! To make a stop-motion animation, first think about the kind of action you want your character to perform. This is a great chance for you to discuss the different types of action words or verbs with your students. You can have your students pick one action verb to illustrate through their stop motion video.


Stop motion animation is made up of multiple single frames or “shots.” These shots are strung together to make up a video. The best way to achieve this is to set up any standard camera you own to take a shot every time your students adjust the poses of their Action Shapes people. Once the action is complete, upload your pictures to your computer. Use software that can easily convert your pictures into a GIF animation or equivalent.

Here’s a look at what we made with stop-motion animation!


She kicks, she scores!

Your students will have lots of fun preparing their own stop-motion animations. For the background, use a large sheet of Bristol board or have your students create their own backgrounds with sheets of paper and markers or crayons!


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