Education and animation go together like cheese and biscuits. Like bacon and eggs. Like chocolate and… more chocolate.
Education is all about making ideas clear and memorable, and animation is all about bringing those ideas to life in a way that cannot be forgotten. Animation can illustrate the unfilmable, clarify the indecipherable, and demonstrate the unfathomable. Animation can show you the inside of your brain or the outside of the universe. It can break apart atoms, blow up mountains and freeze time.
And then it can stick arrows and labels on it, show it from all angles and summarise it neatly to make sure that everyone’s understood the curriculum in full.
In short, animation is the ultimate tool for education.At Slurpy Studios, we’ve delivered educational content for all ages – we’ve taught KS1 to spell phonetically, KS2 about the vital importance of gravity, KS3 about the various tactics of the allied forces in WW1, GCSE about the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang, and A level about the psychological reasons why they act the way they do.
We’ve learnt along the way that each subject and age group requires a different approach, and lots and lots of research – both in to the subject itself and in to the audience so we know the best way to explain that subject.
At KS1, for example, children tireless absorb the world around them and question everything. They like rhyme, rhythm and seemingly endless and repetition, and will accept pretty much everything on face value without questioning or looking for the logic behind it.
So for this age group, we make educational films that are non-stop fun, where the learning is incidental. The educational content is inherent in the set up of the film, and the scenario delivers the learning outcomes in an inventive way from there – like explaining Forces by having twins fighting over a birthday parcel that the both desperately want… until it turns out to contain a big grizzly bear!
At KS2, children are much more sensitive to feeling patronised. They like slapstick and grossness and can appreciate verbal comedy like sarcasm and irony. They know enough about the reality of the world to enjoy wacky, surreal ideas and irreverent humour – and poo jokes obviously.
For the 7-11 age group, we make sure our films are fun, funny and frenetic. The educational content is still woven in to a narrative, but there is more room for off the wall ideas – like an astronaut who spells ‘Invasion’ incorrectly, which results in planet Earth being blown up by alien attackers. The SHUN sound is spelt ‘SION’ don’t you know!
By the time children get to secondary school, they no longer need their educational content to be hidden under a fun narrative. Now the audience knows that they are there to learn and, increasingly as they go through the years, they get less and less sugar coating on their films. KS3 students, for example, are presented each topic through a real world reference – such as ‘Why is it a bad idea to go camping in winter?’ but by GCSE, the same topic might be delivered as ‘How the Earth’s position in relation to the Sun affects the seasons’.
It’s also important to take a multi-faceted approach to animated learning. Some children remember things better visually, some aurally and some need to see key words written out on screen to fully understand and retain each point. When teaching a foreign language through animation, it’s important to ensure that the voice actor’s mouth is recorded when speaking so the movement can be replicated on the character. Words and phrases need to be on screen long enough to be fully absorbed, but not so long that more advanced learners grow bored and switch off.
Animation can assist learning by making each and every subject come alive – and we should know, we’ve created educational animation for English, Science, Maths, Science, Psychology, Science, History, Science, PE and – oh did I mention we’ve done LOTS of Science films? We’ve created films for heritage organisations like the British Council, publishers like Oxford University Press, and educators like BBC Learning – so if you have a topic or curriculum that needs illuminating through animation, drop us a line today. We love learning!