When I step on campus at 6:30 I am never alone. Coffee in hand, I often open the door to a colleague and fellow technophile’s classroom for inspiration. Yesterday, she bubbled over with excitement about a Lego Movie App. Instantly, I knew that I had to try it out with my five year old son at home. He has already produced his first public service announcement to warn others against throwing their money away for unfulfilled wishes, but I knew he would jump at the chance to make Lego Movies.
The app is officially called Lego Super Hero Movie Maker, but it really is just a stop motion animation movie maker that allows the user to choose preloaded title pages, sound effects, and visual effects. I found the limited number of choices and features helpful in keeping my son from becoming frustrated. In fact, he picked up pretty quickly on the concept. All I had to do is ask him what his movie would be about. What else? A movie about Dr. Evil and then a movie about a robber breaking out of jail and getting away on his motorcycle. You will notice two things about these movies, my son’s fingers and that it is upside down. Yep, the iPhone was upside down when we took the pictures. Each movie took about 5 minutes to make. His third attempt involved a crash, legos, and a long piece of floss. He was determined to film a helicopter crash. It took some trial and error to figure out how to keep the lego helicopter under control as it fell without using something too obvious that would ruin the effect.
Both movies focused on single scenes of a larger story. When I asked him about what happened before and after the crash, he clearly described a typical plot complete with exposition, rising action, climax, and falling action. Narrative structure and Lego movie making, together at last! This experience has reminded me that play and technology have a place in education. In this case, it helped a 5 year old transform into a storyteller. As a high school English teacher my challenge is to engage students who have been digital storytellers since kindergarten!