Lesson Plan Industry Sector
Arts, Media & Entertainment

Lesson Plan Originally Created By: Mike Morris

Creating a Thumb Cinema

Part of Unit: Intro to Art Theory and Fundamentals

Lesson Plan Overview / Details

This lesson will introduce students to the preliminary process of creating a very basic frame animation through the creation of a flipbook. The lesson will also reference three early animation techniques and artists; Muybridge, Winsor McCay, and  the invention of the Zoetrope. The students will utilize basic drawing and shading skills to produce movement and frame by frame animation. An optional addition to this lesson is digitizing the animation, adding sound, and creating a final QuickTime movie.

Lesson Time

Instructional Time
30 Minutes
Student Activity Time
90 Minutes
Reflection Time
20 Minutes


Objectives and Goals

  • The students will know how to produce traditional drawing techniques for use in a frame animation
  • The students will be able to create and apply their traditional drawing techniques to tell a story
  • The students will be able to observe, perceive, and respond to their own art work and that of others

Activities in this Lesson

  • Daumenkino Hooks / Set

    What is "thumb cinema"?

    Show various clips from the internet of various flipbbok animations.

    Show past student flipbook projects (attached are a few examples)-

    •           View various stages of flipbooks
    •            Share student generated finalized flipbooks

    Show the follow up lesson with final QuickTime movies with sound, titles, timing, and fully computerized projects.

    Have students share out ideas for their own flipbook animations

    Resources and Materials

  • The instructor will address three artists that are of historical significance in the creation of moving images; Edeaward Muybridge, Winsor Mccay, and the Zoetrope invented by William George Horner in 1834.

    Show clips from each artist for example: 

    Animation Legend Winsor McCay  DVD or search for exaples on the web-view , "Gertie the Dinosaur", "Little Nemo", and the "Sinking of the Lusitania".                                   

    Edweard Muybridge Plate Examples in motion and in print: http://americanhistory.si.edu/muybridge/htm/htm_sec1/sec1.htm

    Exapmles of the Zoetrope:                        http://www.randommotion.com/html/zoe.html                 http://animationhistory.blogspot.com/2006/05/zoetrope.html

    Students will be able to understand how to create basic movement using traditoinal animation techniques.

    The instructor will discuss the timing of elemnts and creating jumpy versus smooth movements through the use of drawing techniques.

    Discuss how the flipbook relates to traditonal cell animation used in the industry.

  • Creating a Thumb Cinema Demo / Modeling

    Demo the below process before giving the students their materials:

    Required Materials

    1.     Pencil or Marker

    2.     Colored pencils, markers, inking pens, etc.

    3.     Small pad of paper (be sure to get a thicker weight) or index cards

    4.     Index cards will require a clip large enough to hold all of the cards together on one side

    5.     Lightbox (optional)


    Directions (if using a note pad you will not need to clip the sides)

    1.     You can make a figure, animal, or an object etc. It may move, grow, run, dance, etc., think about a short story you want to create before beginning.

    2.     A minimum of 30 index cards will be created.

    3.     On  one of the index cards draw your first image. 

    4.     Label the card #1 on the back.

    5.     Using a second card place it on top of card #1.

    6.     Trace your image on card #2 while changing the movement of it slightly.

    7.     Label the card #2 on the back.

    8.     Utilizing a third card place over card #2.

    9.     Trace your image on card #3 while changing the movement of it again.

    10.   Label the card #3 on the back.

    11.  Continue repeating the steps numbering each card until you reach #30. Remember to change the movement on each card.

    12.  When complete clip all the cards together on the left hand side, make sure they are lined up evenly.

    13. Flip the right side of the card or page with your thumb and watch your animation come to life!

  • Review and Questions Check Understanding

    Review  the flipbook process one more time before moving forward by having various students walk the class through the steps:

                  Who can tell me the first step?

                  And the next step is.......

                  Then we do.............

    Ask students if they have any questions about the process

    Hand out student supplies

    Allow students time to brainstorm ideas before beginning the final flipbook animation


  • Lab Time Guided Practice

    Students begin working on their own flipbooks

    Teacher will rove around the classroom checking for understanfing, questions, progress, and give general feedback about the students flipbook


  • Gallery Walk Closure

    Students will place their books on their desk and do a "gallery walk" around the classroom looking at others flipbooks

    The Gallery Walk is a discussion technique that gets students out of their chairs and into a mode of active engagement. The advantage of the method is its flexibility and the variety of benefits for students and instructor alike.

    For students it's a chance to share thoughts in a more intimate, supportive setting rather than a larger, anonymous class. For instructors, it's a chance to gauge the depth of student understanding of particular concepts and to challenge misconceptions

    Students will each have a numbered station with their name and five assigned stations to visit, this activity will last approximately twenty minutes

    The students will have a critique sheet with two very simple questions they must answer about each piece before moving on to the next station. They are reminded that when giving feedback they are kind, specific and helpful.

    • Title of animation
    • Name of animator
    • List one strengtrh of the piece-stroy, movement, shading, sketching, etc.
    • List one piece that could be improved upon in the project-lack of story, shading, unorganized drawings etc.

    The critique sheets are turned in anonymously from each student, the teacher then reviews them for content and returns them to each individual student

  • Rubric Assessment

    The teacher will grade the final flipbook animations based on a rubric that addresses:



    Movement of Drawings

    Following Directions

    Resources and Materials


Assessment Types:
Rubrics, Observations,

Students are assessed through observation and a developed rubric that matches the expectations of the assignment (see above)