2 Easy to follow examples of intentional teaching in Slowmation

Intentional teaching practices

By Michael Hilkemeijer


In the Early Years curriculum, intentional teaching is a relatively new practice and involves “educators being deliberate, purposeful and thoughtful in their decisions and actions (EYLF).


Through worthwhile and challenging learning experiences you also foster higher order thinking skills and this is a particular aspect that meshes well when integrating digital technology in early childhood education.


Slowmation or slow animation is a simplified way for preschool teachers to design and make a narrated stop motion animation with young children.


In this video, I will the key points of a study conducted by Marilyn Fleer and Garry Hoban on the best practices to intentionally teach when conducting these projects and provide you with the key steps that you will need to take in order to successfully integrate digital technology in early childhood education today.



These two examples of intentional teaching practices build imaginary situations in digital play-based learning and involve children in the co-construction of a simplified form of producing animation.


Concept development in projects

I should also note, too, that another important aspect is the development of conceptual understanding for the children.


Teacher knowledge of conceptual development has been directly related to the level of teacher-child interaction. Those who understand it can have sustained conversations with young children about what they are experiencing or noticing.


Conceptual understanding underpins all the ICT skills and techniques which the children will learn throughout the slowmation projects. It will be important for you to build everyday concepts into the practice so that the children can lay exponentially forged pathways.


Your role as an educator is important in this instance as you can intentionally give new meaning and social purpose to everyday activity.


Higher order thinking skills

Intentional teaching practices in digital play learning experiences as mentioned earlier, promotes higher order thinking skills. It is important, therefore, to understand how young children would demonstrate this such projects as slowmation.

In projects such as slowmation, higher order thinking skills are demonstrated when young children:

  • Decide when it is appropriate to use a particular ICT for a specific purpose.
  • Plan what routines, techniques and processes are to be used.
  • Work independently to solve problems.
  • Evaluate their use of ICT and the outcome of an activity.
  • Explain and justify their choices and approaches.
  • Reflect on their learning and how things could be approached differently next time.

(Siraj-Blatchford, 2009)


Digital pedagogy for intentional teaching

It was stated in the study, that slowmation is an excellent way to combine children’s everyday concepts with educators’ scientific concepts. Sustained shared thinking as highlighted by Siraj-Blatchford (2009) is central to achieving this.


This relationship between everyday concepts and scientific concepts is central to the development of conceptual understanding in young children.


Here is a list of the fundamental concepts underlying ICT capability development in projects such as slowmation:

  • File – a unit of data that can be saved, loaded, and printed.
  • Window – an area of the screen that can display part of a file.
  • Menu – a list of options that can be displayed and selected.
  • Text – a continuous string of characters, including formatting codes.
  • Object – something which can be selected, formatted, moved, resized, copied, deleted and transferred to other locations.
  • Presentation – a set of text and objects, animated suitably for communication in screen form.


In slowmation, the creation process integrates features of clay animation, object animation, and digital storytelling in early childhood education.


A five step approach was employed to help the teachers in these projects and included the following:

  1. Research notes;
  2. Storyboard;
  3. Models;
  4. Digital still photographs and;
  5. Narrated animation.


Slowmation then features:

  • Purpose – the simplicity of making the animation enables you to make a narrated animation or to co-construct one with the children themselves. You may include narration, music, photos, diagrams, 2D and 3D models, labels, static images repetitions and characters.
  • Timing – stop motion animation is usually played at two frames per second. This means that you will need less photos than in clay or computer animation.
  • Orientation – the models can be manipulated in the horizontal plane and photographed by a digital still camera mounted on a tripod looking down or across at the models. Mobile phones can also be used along with webcams and cameras on tablet computers such as iPads.
  • Materials – there is a range of different materials that can be used such as playdough, plasticine, 2d pictures, drawings, written text, existing 3d models, felt, cardboard cut-outs and natural materials.
  • Technology – it is best to use a digital still camera found in stand-alone devices, on iPads, webcams and even smartphones. Software to use would include iMovie or SAM Animation on a Mac or MovieMaker on a PC.



Examples in Practice

The two studies highlighted intentional teaching practices taking place throughout the slowmation projects in the early childhood learning environments. Each were different as the first example was about two animals playing in the park while the other was to do with dinosaurs.


I hope that by reading these examples you will be able to employ similar practices in your learning environment today.


Example 1:



Intentional Focus



What did dinosaurs eat?

Dinosaurs that are plant-eaters are called

herbivores and have blunt teeth for grinding leaves. Dinosaurs that are meateaters are called carnivores and have sharp teeth for ripping meat.

Read a book about dinosaurs focusing on their teeth. Look at a range of models of dinosaurs, examining their teeth.


Where did dinosaurs live?

Dinosaurs lived in different areas; some lived on land, some in the sea and some could fly.

Construct a habitat using plastic dinosaurs.


How did dinosaurs die?

Some dinosaurs died from being near volcanoes that erupted.

Make a model volcano


How did dinosaurs die?

Some dinosaurs died from being near volcanoes that erupted.

Use a model of the Earth and a model of asteroids that hit the Earth.


How do people find dinosaur


Dinosaur bones and teeth make fossils which can be found on Earth. Revisit topic

of dinosaur teeth.

Use a ‘dinosaur dig up kit’.


Take digital still photos.

Teach the children how to take digital still photos as the plastic dinosaurs are

manually moved.

Set up a tripod and teach the children how to take digital still photos as the

dinosaurs are manually moved, to create a stop-motion animation.


Make narration.

Have the children record a narration as an

assessment approach of their conceptual


Play the sequence of photos in the animation as the children explain

it as a narration to document their conceptual development.

Fleer & Hobbs (2012, p.67)


Example 2:

Intentional teaching in action

Plan from observations:

I decided to set up a playground scene to teach scientific concepts related to physics.


Sophia and I wanted two characters to be playing in the park. We chose two of her toys, named ‘Piggy’ and ‘Doggy’. I prompted her to think about what they might be doing in the park, and she thought they would be playing with the equipment: see-saw, the spinning equipment we found in Pasir Ris Park (we decided to call it a merry-go-round), slide, football and scooter.


Together, we moulded these playground objects using plasticine, a roller and a plastic knife. Instinctively, Sophia picked up the models and engaged in pretend-play (see photograph). She was also exhibiting some egocentric speech as she narrated what/how the pig was doing or feeling on the spinning equipment. This was a moment that exemplified what Fleer (2010, p. 141) argued, ‘the imaginary-creative dimensions of activity are totally dependent upon the richness and diversity of the child’s previous experience’. In other words, Sophia’s wealth of experiences at the playgrounds formed the basis of her imagination and creativity displayed in this situation.

Co-creating the script:

This was the critical juncture when I intentionally planned to illustrate some of the scientific concepts through the interactions of the characters as I took the photographs. For instance, Piggy gave Doggy a hard push and he went spinning very fast, and Doggy gave a light kick to the ball which did not travel far enough to reach Piggy. These are multiple examples of the same scientific concept on forces creating motion and affecting speed and distance. The other two examples (i.e. see-saw and slide) address another concept of forces, gravity as a pulling force.

Narrated animation:


S for Sophia (‘Doggy’)

C for Christine (‘Piggy’)

S: Presenting in the park, science in the park.

S: Yay, see-saw, I can go up and down. Why can’t I go up?

C: Hello Doggy, that’s because gravity pulls you down. But I’m heavier than you. See, now I go

down and you go up. Just give a little kick and we will go up and down, up and down.

S: Thank you, but now I want to play on the slide. I am climbing up. Wheee. See, I came down

so fast. Ah-ha, that’s because gravity pulls me down.

C: You are right, Doggy.

S: Watch me, OUCH ...

C: Oh dear, be careful, Doggy.

S: Okay. Shall we play on the merry-go-round, Piggy?

C: Sure, why not? Do you wanna go fast or slow?

S: Fast, very very fast!

C: Okay, then I will have to give you a very big push! Watch out!

S: Oh! I am spinning so fast! I can’t stop! HELP!

C: Okay, let me give you a little push in the opposite direction then.

S: Oh man, I am so giddy.

C: Ha-ha, I’m sure. Hey look, there’s a football; shall we play? I’ll kick it to you. Kick it back to me.

S: Ha (kicking action).

C: Doggy, you kicked it too lightly. Try again.

S: Okay.

C: Oh-oh, you have to kick even harder than this.

S: Ha (kicking action).

C: Yay, that’s good. Now back to you! Now I am going further away. See if you can make the

ball travel far and fast.

S: No problem, I will kick it really hard. There you go. Piggy, you went the wrong way.

C: He-he, oopsy, let me try again.

S & C: Aren’t we having so much fun?

S: Gravity pulls you down.

C: Gravity pulls you down.

S: A hard push will make something spin fast.

C: A light push will make something spin slow.

S: A light kick will make the ball move a little.

C: A strong kick will make the ball travel far.

S & C: The End. Hope you enjoyed the show.



There is no doubt that these intentional teaching examples can be implemented when initiating projects like slowmation that engages and motives young children. It also supports conceptual understanding through the combination of everyday concepts and scientific concepts, and promotes the development of higher order thinking skills – two key components in a young child’s ICT capability. This study by Fleer and Hobbs indicates two ways in which it can be conceptualised and enacted. Use these case study examples to help guide your own practices today.