A Week of Claymation and Comics

Next week, I am co-teaching two summer camps for middle school students with very creative aims: help young people make movies and create comics. These offerings are a collaboration between the local Vocational High School and the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, which is seeking to expand our offerings to youths.

The first camp in the morning (which I will teach with my friend, Tina) is a claymation/stopmotion animation class. This will be the third year that we will be doing this camp and among other things, the kids will be:

  • Exploring animation through Pivot Stickfigure freeware
  • Using Stopmotion Animator freeware with webcams to create short adventure claymation movies
  • Learning how to use Moviemaker
  • Exploring the world of movies on a small scale

The Comic Camp is something new this year, and I was explaining to Tina and Tom (who will co-teach the comic portion with me), the impetus came from walking into a comic book store during last year’s 24 Hour Comic event and seeing the store packed with young people writing and creating. This was clearly composing done outside of the classroom and I figured there might be some interest for a Comic/Graphic Novel camp. There was. It filled up quickly.

Our intentions are to balance students’ learning about the genre of comics, reading through some graphic novels and creating their own comics. We’ll be introducing ToonDoo (my pilot closed site) and ComicLife (see this great Comiclife resource for educators), but allow for them to create on paper, too, if that fits their needs. Our focus will be on character development and how character can drive a story (graphic novel) or a series (comic strips). While they won’t have time to create a graphic novel, they will begin planning for one.

I am also excited because I have at least two local artists coming in to talk with the kids (one is Hilary Price of Rhymes with Orange syndicated comic strip). We’re not quite sure how this camp will unfold but it will be interesting to see what they come up with.

I created a blog for both camps, if you are interested in following some of the progress through the week: http://claycomics.wordpress.com/

Peace (with the kids),

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