Thinking Through Representation

Our fourth graders’ stop motion animation and their artist statements will be projected outside the main office during the week of the solstice.  Please take a look!


Our 4th graders have become especially close knit this year.  They spent the first few weeks of school talking with Ms. Meehan and Mr. Loftis about their hopes and dreams, what it takes for a classroom to be a space for everyone to be successful, and establishing shared expectations for the group.  Although the children are assigned to separate homerooms, they are united as one, whole group.

Mr. Loftis shared with Ms. Meehan and me a recording he had from his class discussing why the process of coming together was important.  What the children had to share was powerful.

At the beginning of the year we had some new students and when we worked together I think we got to know each other more.  Then since we got to know each other more, things ran more smoothly because everybody has friends and they’re not getting into fights with other people.” –Sylvie


The act of reflecting on process slows us down, and notice what we are already learning.

“I might have forgotten other people’s things– their drawings, their writing– and looking at them again was actually very educational, learning more about people when they were in their past and what they might be in their future.”



I asked the students in the studio, “How can you show the process of how you came together as a 4th grade whole without using any words?” Since it was a process, their work needed movement, and I thought stop motion animation would be an appropriate form for their work. Their challenge was to work as a small group using one material of their choice to show the process of how the two second grade classes came together as a cohesive grade.

The groups planned and rehearsed their pieces, thinking through how they would represent their ideas using limited materials.  Some groups used paper to draw plans, while others acted it out.  They had to grapple with the challenges associated with different materials.

When recording, the children faced new challenges.  Who would be the “director” and who would move the materials?  How could they make subtle enough movements to create nearly 100 pictures for their animation?  How could they resolve issues of camera focus and hand movements?


Groups were drawn to bottle caps (I laughed hearing, “We need more Flying Dog caps!” across the room), glass beads, tiles, and plastic caps.  Whatever material they used, the challenge was to think of how to represent the process without actually creating pictures or scenes. What resulted were abstract movements that could actually be used to represent many other ideas. The final piece is below!





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