Behind the Scenes of Gradeable’s Stop-Motion Teacher Appreciation Video

Though our animation is a little over a minute long, it is comprised of over 1,100 photos captured over the span of 6 weeks. This means that we made the characters move incrementally over 1,100 frames to achieve the fluid gestures and movements you see in the video. The set, which was built on my desk at home, was almost entirely hand crafted out out of different types of paper – birch straws for the trees, multi-colored napkins for the flowers, cardstock for the grass, etc.

teacher appreciation stop-motion animation materials

The sky background you see in the final scene is comprised of bunches of white tissue paper and tree silhouettes made of black construction paper squished between two pieces of plexiglass and draped in sheer blue fabric. We lit the sky background from behind using Christmas lights and a desk lamp to give illusion of sunlight, depth and realistic clouds.

teacher appreciation stop-motion animation background

It was a lot of fun seeing the set come together, but the most fun (and sometimes the most frustrating) part was animating the paperclips and the growing plants. We used several different methods to keep the characters and plants standing upright, including magnets, wire, Blu-tack, and paper supports, all of which we Photoshopped out later. In a particular stroke of genius I broke apart an old whiteboard and placed the thin magnetic surface under the green “grass” layer in order to use magnets to support the growing trees and flowers. When crafting supports for your characters and other moving parts, the goal is to create a lot of control over the movement, so that when you put all the frames together, the movement looks fluid and not choppy.

teacher appreciation stop-motion animation supports

People have been asking us why we used paper clips as characters in our Teacher Appreciation video.  Well, they’re super cute, but that’s not the main reason. Simply put, it is easy to overlook the hidden potential of a paperclip. At first glance they’re pretty ordinary…small, expendable implements of some person’s desk organization strategy. But though they are often trapped in boxes and hidden away under stacks of paperwork, they are actually versatile, adaptable and flexible—tools of infinite possibilities.  There’s more to a paper clip than meets the eye.

teacher appreciation stop-motion animation paper clip

We chose paperclips to represent the teacher and student characters in the animation to celebrate how teachers are fighting to break through expectations and challenge norms that often box in students. Now more than ever before, teachers are collaborating and innovating to improve the student experience. By creating PLNs, embracing technology, sharing best practices, not to mention putting in hours and hours of extra time and effort every week, teachers are changing the game.  We so deeply appreciate that, you were our inspiration and we made this video to thank you. We hope you love it!


If you have any more questions about how its made, or would like to do a similar project with your class, email us at and we would be happy to help. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Learn more about the things we do for the love of teachers at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *