The TeachNet Project sponsored with major funding by the AT&T Learning Network

seeks to improve student achievement by providing training, grants, networking and resource sharing to teachers at four of the Teachers Network affiliates nationwide.

Funding Provided by Alias Wavefront

Claymation Critters




How It Works

This project is an introduction to research skills and report writing.
Students will select a wild animal to research and write about in a five paragraph report. Students will also create a clay animation of that animal to enhance their report.


Comprehension and Analysis of Text
Students use the Internet to extract appropriate and significant information from text.

Writing Strategies
Students write clear and coherent sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea.

Students understand the structure and organization of various reference

Writing Applications
Students write compositions that describe and explain familiar objects.

Students write descriptions that use concrete sensory details to present and
support unified impressions of people, places, things or experiences.

Estimated Class Periods to Complete


Software and Materials Used

Computer with CD-ROM drive, writing program, and Internet connection, Tech4Learning Clay Animation Kit with Spin PhotoObject software, digital camera, reference materials on animals such as books, laserdiscs, magazines, and encyclopedias, note-taking paper, pencils, modeling clay in colors appropriate for the animals the students have selected.


animals, animal reports, claymation, writing, report writing  


This project is appropriate for students of varying abilities. Some
experience using the Internet is helpful. Although this was an individual project, I found students partnering up to do the research. Students were excited to learn about their animals, as well as about the other animals chosen. They were eager to share any information they found. It turned out to be quite a cooperative learning experience. The students with higher reading abilities became mentors for the lower readers. Those who had more experience using the Internet were happy to share their knowledge with the less experienced.


This project was assessed using a 100 point scale.  Points were given in the following areas:

Research (20 points maximum)

Rough Draft (20 points maximum)

Revised Report (10 points for each paragraph for a maximum of 50 points)

Clay Figure (10 points maximum based on authenticity from research)

Overall Value

Claymation Critters is a great way to get students motivated to write.
Through the use of claymation, students become engaged in the writing
process. Knowing that they will be bringing their writing to life, students are encouraged to be creative and write well-developed paragraphs. This type of project lets students use technology to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.


Give a mini lesson on animation/claymation before beginning the project. Some good animation sites are:

Have plenty of clay on hand. You may have to go to several craft stores to find enough authentic colors.

Take digital pictures of the clay figures when everyone's is complete. You can kind of make this like an assembly line. Have the students keep their figures at their desks until it is their turn to come over to the camera. Have an area ready so the figures can be  quickly placed into position and shot. You will need to tell the students to handle their creations as little as possible. You don't want them to fall apart before the images are taken!

When saving the images, keep the file names very simple. For example,
hippo1.gif (mouth open) and hippo2.gif (mouth closed).

Call up the students one at a time to create the animations. You can get through several students during quiet times like silent reading.

Simplicity is the key to success. Two or three images is enough to create a fabulous animation.


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About the Teacher

Tracee Sudyka currently teaches third grade at Joe Nightingale Elementary School in the Orcutt Union School District. Tracee has been a classroom teacher for fourteen years, and has taught grades three though six. Tracee has a strong interest in using technology as a tool for learning. Using technology, her students create variety of student-centered projects each school year.