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Peeps Project for Watership Down

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Keywords: animation, stop action, peeps, watership down, english, determining importance
Subject(s): Art, Video, Technology, Writing, Reading, Information Skills, Photography, English/Language Arts
Grades 9 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Mountain View High School, Loveland, CO
Planned By: Amy White
Original Author: Amy White, Loveland
We use critical thinking skills on a regular basis in our school and one of the key skills is determining importance. Before we begin creating moview, students read the novel Watership Down by Richard Adams and we have class and group discussions. When we finish the novel, students are divided into groups and create a timeline/sequence of events from the novel. Once they have completed a thorough timeline, students start to discuss key events to determine their importance to the story. They need to come to a consensus on the key scenes and then we discuss them as a large group, narrowing them down further. Each group picks a key scene and creates a storyboard for their movie. (The movies are very short, so the storyboards may only be a page or two.) Once I have signed off on their storyboards they can pick up their Peeps! We use both chick and bunny peeps as the novel has both rabbits and a bird. (I teach this novel in the spring and Peeps are readily available. However, you may want to save them if you want to use them in the fall or winter.)

I collaborate with the photo teacher and she comes in and teaches a quick lesson on stop motion photography, teaching them how to hold the camera in the same place and showing them how "large" the movements should be and how many photos they need--typically 50ish. Then I let them go! This takes about 2 class periods for the actual movie making. They take pictures first, setting up their scenes and creating back drops, etc. After they are satisfied with their pictures, they upload them to the computer and we use iMovie to create our movies. Some students added sound effects and music, others didn't. (Since first doing this project, I now require some sort of "noise" in the movie.)

We watch the movies chronologically and discuss why these scenes really are key to understanding the novel. It's fun; they like it; and it doesn't even feel like working!

Teachers can grade the timelines and storyboards, have groups grade themselves, vote for the best movie, post them to Facebook, show them on the announcement, etc. It's very flexible.
The students really have fun with this activity. It's very easy and accessible for all students. They can get as "into" it as they want.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
We worked with the photography teacher on how to hold the camera still (or use a tripod) and keep it in the same spot for the stop action to look right.
We entered Peeps contests online and a school video contest.
Materials: Mobile Labs, Digital Cameras, Portable, Flash/USB Drives, Tripods, Memory Cards, Power, LCD Monitors, English/Language Arts, Animation, Music, Internet Services