Animation Projects Sneak a Little Fun Math Into Your Day

The Old Days of Hand-drawn Cartoons

Animation used to be a tedious process of reproducing multiple drawings with slight changes to create an apparently moving picture.  In math, the term for this change in the position but not the size or shape of a figure on a plane is called a translation.

You probably used translations when you were in elementary school.

Remember buying a little notebook and drawing a stick figure on each page, slowly positioning that figure slightly more to the right on every new page?

Then you would close the notebook and hold it by the binding in one hand while you flipped the pages with your thumb.

It looked like the stick figure was walking across the page.

Animation Via Zoetrope

Upgrading from that simple flip book to a homemade zoetrope makes the animation process easier and more fun.

A zoetrope is like a slide carousel.

You put your translation drawings in cells on a strip of paper, tape the strip into a circle, and spin it on an axis. Here’s a really simple one to print out and try.

If you want to make a cardstock carousel that you could use with multiple animation strips, look for lots of tutorials and templates on the internet.  This one from The Art of Education website is easy to put together. You can use a paper plate or even just a circular piece of cardboard for the base.

Just place the strip on the inside of the cardboard carousel, and spin it on your pencil tip.

Or watch a YouTube video to get the idea about how a zoetrope works.

Computer Animation

It’s nice to get away from the computer, but the fastest easiest animation is done by computer.  Search Google Play or the Apple Store for stop-motion movie apps. On the internet, Animatron is a fun website for creating animations. You can make and download your own short clips for free!

Whether you try one or all of these projects, for yourself or with all your favorite people, know that you are sneaking a little math lesson into your art project with animation fun.


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Author: A. JoAnn

Here is where I share the beauty I find in everyday life; and the humor, too!

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