Get your imaginative kids to incorporate pretend doll play, specifically with American Girl dolls, with technology, art, and writing — a STEAM activity — by making a stop motion movie of your dolls. Here’s how. . .
STEAM Play with American Girl Dolls
First, make a plan and write a script. (The A in STEAM.)
JJ, my 12-year old, LOVES her American Girl dolls. She wanted to showcase two specific dolls’ personalities in a stop-motion video. Z Yang is a filmmaker so Z got to be the host of JJ’s movie.
Girl of the year, Gabriela, is a poet. She stars in JJ’s movie, performing a poem.
Script writing is a great way to practice sequential thinking as well as mini-plotting. If your kids don’t know how to write a script, show them how colons and parenthesis make script writing different than fictional narrative writing.
The script needs a beginning, middle, and end.
Next, set up a stop motion stage. (The A in STEAM.)
We used a black trifold poster board for the background and a black sheet of poster board for the stage.
Add in any props.
It’s VERY helpful to use a tripod like this when you’re making stop-motion. The slightest bump or wiggle of the camera affects the movie, both the flow and the lighting. Even with our tripod, I bumped the camera more than once. Whoops. (JJ moved the dolls and directed me when to snap the photos.)
Now, film your stop motion movie. (The T in STEAM.)
We used the free app Stop Motion Studio by Cateater, LLC. You can upgrade for more features but it’s not necessary. My daughter borrowed my camera but you can use an iPad or other tablet device.
Move your dolls to match your script. Stop motion is a different kind of movie making to only move your dolls a teency bit each frame.
Fortunately, this app offers play back to show what you have and how it looks which helps enormously.
Add in narration from your script to match the movie sequence.
One thing I really like about this STEAM activity is that it incorporates the pretend play of the physical American Girl dolls with technology. So it’s tech but not really screen time. Which is win-win for us anyway since we want JJ to be tech savvy but not a screen zombie.
Here’s JJ’s final product:
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Disclosure: I received complimentary Z and Gabriela dolls from American Girl.
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