Animation Flip Books

By Carolyne Kellner, January 13, 2007

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Graphic Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Science

Lesson Time

One to two fifty-minute class periods


Students will be introduced to the idea of an animation flip book in order to understand how animations were made in the "old days." Tom & Jerry, Disney Animation, Bugs Bunny, and Wile E. Coyote can be used as examples. Students have a background in this from watching so much TV. Students will demonstrate knowledge of sequential motion of forces by illustrating a "bouncing ball" that will begin on the left side of the book, move to the right side, and return to the side it began on. Students embark on a personal exploration into how the eye assimilates cell by cell into an animation.
This lesson is relevant to Physical Science because it addresses forces of motion through the students’ investigation and demonstration of the sequence of motion. It is also relevant to students' personal lives because television cartoons are part of their daily life, therefore connecting design to their personal lives.

National Standards


As a result of this lesson students will:
  • understand how animations were created in the past
  • create an animation flip book
  • study the force of motion and recreate it on paper
  • evaluate and make changes to their animation design
  • realize how design creates entertainment (through television and cartoons)



  • Post-It notepads
  • pencils with erasers
  • tape or a stapler to reinforce the top of the pad so that when the book flips it doesn't break apart


  • animation or cartoon cell
  • animation
  • to produce (in terms of animation, films, TV shows)
  • to direct (in terms of animation, films, TV shows)


1. Show students examples of animation made from a flipbook technique: Tom & Jerry, Disney Animation, Bugs Bunny, and Wile E. Coyote. Instruct the students that they will be making their own animation flipbook. 2. Pass out "Post-It" notepads to each student. The books can be divided in half or quarters because no student will use an entire book up. It is advised that each notepad be at least 30 pages. Staple or tape the top of each student’s pad so that the pages will stay together when flipped. 3. All drawing must be done on the lower half of book, so when it is flipped the animation is visible. 4. The bouncing ball is the easiest concept for students to understand. Provide students with a real bouncy ball so that they can observe the way it moves. They will translate what they see to their pad of paper to mimic the balls real life movements. 5. Students should draw a ball in pencil on the last page of their pad. 6. Each page is considered a "cell" just like in real animation—flipping through all the cells makes the animation. When going to the next "cell" trace from the page underneath with only slight alteration to the page you are working on. Have the students observe their real bouncy ball in order to make sure the movements portrayed in their flip book look true to life. 7. Throughout the process, each student should flip through his or her book, erasing and making changes to any pages that do not flow well with the animation. 8. When the book is complete, students can make a cover page for their animation flip book with a title and "directed by," "produced by," or "animated by" and the student's name.


Did the student follow the directions? Did he or she evaluate and make changes to his or her book? Is the animation successful? Does the animation show fluidity?

Enrichment Extension Activities

Students can look at actual cells from cartoons in order to further understand the process. They could also watch cartoons (which they already do) to notice the animation, or an animator or cartoonist could be a guest speaker in class. Students could study the process used in older cartoons and research and compare it to the newer, more technological processes used now. For instance, compare old Disney cartoons to Pixar animation

Teacher Reflection

The students enjoyed this project very much. A student would finish a flip book and we'd share it around the class. Some students became very imaginative, one drew a cow with a UFO coming down from above and lifting up the cow. The students who had difficulty with this were the ones that couldn't keep the images similar from page to page. Some students were too ambitious. The bouncing ball was very successful, along with stick figures playing ball, or getting knocked out by a ball. One student did an animation with two stick figures playing catch and then the ball transformed itself into a puddle with the stick figure walking into it and disappearing into the puddle. This is a great project and fun, too.
  1. Students love cartoons and TV shows. This design lesson engages us in the creation of how animations were created and used for entertainment. Working in collaboration with the Art, Technology and Writing teachers, students can use this design challenge to incorporate their work in various subject areas to create their own animations.

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