Exciting lesson ideas, classroom strategies, book lists, videos, and reproducibles in a daily blog by teachers
























Flip Movies Easy Enough for a First Grader to Complete

By Christy Crawford on January 6, 2011
  • Grades: 3–5

Meet Daisy, a six-year-old digital native. She can shoot, upload, and edit a digital how-to book with very minimal assistance. If this first grader can produce a movie for her class, an adult technophobe can easily and enjoyably do the same.

Young people of all ages are using digital media to entertain themselves, explore new worlds, and even overthrow oppressive governments. With your help, they can use new media to educate lots of other children.

Read on for instructions, videos, and ideas to motivate kids of any age in creating 21st century literacy.


Traditionally, movie making is reserved for my independent 5th grade students for writing, shooting and editing movies about primary social issues they plan to conquer.  However, with a little guidance even kindergartners can master digital literacy.


8 Easy Steps Any Kid Could Follow 

Before passing out cameras, my students spend lots of time playing with imaginary cameras and learning associated vocabulary. Kids shut one eye and raise their imaginary camera frames to the other eye to zoom in and zoom out, pan left and pan right.  

Kid-friendly and relatively cheap camcorders! Step 1. Turn camera on: Put your wrist guard on. Turn the camera so the monitor is facing you. Use the small sliding power latch on the right side of the camera.

Step 2. Record: Push the red button to start recording.  Push the red button to stop recording. Push the plus sign above the red button to zoom in.  Push the minus sign to zoom out. 

Step 3. Play: Push the silver triangle. Use the smaller arrows next to the record button to scroll through videos.

Step 4. Delete: Push the trash can icon. 

Consider using kid-friendly camcorders during center time when you have a spare adult in the room and teach everyone the wrist guard rule: "No guard on your wrist -- Your flip camera will be missed!"  

Ready to Edit?

Step 5. Upload: Make sure the monitor is facing you.  Slide down the latch on the left to "flip" open the the USB arm.  When ready to edit, this USB arm is plugged into the computer's USB port.  

FlipShare Editing Software Step 6. Cut: Once in FlipShare, the Flip editing software, click on a video clip.  Click on the scissor icon in the right-hand corner of your selected video clip.  Slide the "Start" and "End" points to the desired positions. Save your changes.

Step 7. Make a Movie: Click on the "Create Movie" or clapboard icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Arrange your videos by dragging your favorite clips in the desired sequence. Click "Next" in the bottom corner of the window to add titles, music and render your movie.  Once your movie is finished, play your movie full screen for maximum enjoyment.  

Step 8. Create screening invitations, get your popcorn ready and celebrate your digital literacy triumph with other classes. 


What You'll Need:

Kindergartners Edit Their PSA! A) Any kid-friendly camcorder and rechargeable batteries (If you have more than one camera, label them by groups, e.g. "Harvard," "Yale," and assign accordingly.) 

B) Tripod(s), computer, and you must have an interactive whiteboard. The IWB makes guided editing incredibly easy.  An IWB ensures that every child can clearly see every step of the editing process and come to the board to edit themselves.  

C) A Stool (Without it, you'll be forced to lift young students up to press editing software icons.) 

D) Can't work with a small group of children?  Call in parental or volunteer help for "Movie  Magic Mondays" or "Digital Literacy Nights."  Invite older buddy classes or adult volunteers to  your 20-minute Flip how-to lesson for your  students. Each volunteer should gently guide  child teams of two to four people to make movie magic happen.

E) Got lots of help? Get a handbook for nervous adults. Print the steps above with the photos and place on heavy card stock for each group leader.   

F) Consent forms. Make sure you have signed release forms from parents/guardians allowing the child to be videotaped.

G) Clapboard. For four dollars, you can purchase a wooden clapboard that will inspire kids to holler, "Action!" before each take. (My kids adore this!)


The Proof Is In the Pudding

In less than three hours, four 5-year-olds became familiar with the Flip camcorder, brainstormed, shot and edited a public service announcement for recycling.  Their simple but effective piece kicked off school-wide discourse for my school's new recycling program.    



Daisy's 1st grade class is finishing a digital how-to book on making an apple pie. Take a look at an excerpt.


My school's 1st grade classes are studying the effects of the BP oil spill.  They are in the process of creating a Microsoft Photo Story and a music video to raise money for Gulf clean-up costs. Below is just a snippet of a protest song they've been working on with our school's music director, Caroline Barnes.




Below is a sketch comedy piece shot and written by our 2nd graders for our school's Literacy Fair. Second graders received help from their 4th grade buddy class in editing The Angry Thesaurus. 





Kindergartners Edit Their PSA! My 2-year-old quickly maneuvers iPhone icons to find his favorite Thomas the Tank Engine stories on YouTube. He scans for Thomas and Friends stories created by families or his own movies that he has created with his father.  (New to the world of a toddler's obsession with iPhones and iPads? Check out this short article from the New York Times.)  If my son has a teacher willing to play with new technology and use his interests to push his literacy skills, I can't wait to see what he will create in a couple of years.

A beloved professor recently turned my attention to Janet Evans' Literacy Moves On: Popular Culture, New Technologies, and Critical Literacy in the Elementary Classroom. This short, easy read highlighted the work of 4-year-olds who made animated films using a nursery laptop. Wow!  What are you creating with very young students? Please share your ideas and some inspiration . . .


Word Wiz Update:  In my last post, I discussed easy ways to get kids crazy about vocabulary.  My 5th graders just wrapped a Justin Bieber Word Wiz movie.  Take a look:    





Comments (6)


Wow! I'm grateful for your comments.

The child you mentioned was quiet in most tech classes. But when she got behind the camera, she became an incredibly powerful, articulate being! She quickly corrected actors who were out of frame or needed to project. She insisted on re-shooting scenes that were our of sequence. She SHINED! She is proof that when you use what interests kids, they rise to the occasion.

Kids like Daisy make teaching rewarding. She now shows her father how to work his camera! :)


I LOVE your Biome Travel Agents!! And I can only imagine the amount of editing you have to do yourself at home or after school :( In my first year as Technology Teacher I edited a vast number of K-4 projects on Windows Movie Maker and IMovie. Needless to say, my family felt ignored and I got no sleep. (Typical life of a busy teacher... right?) I made some changes.

1) My children and I quickly learned how to become one-take wonders. (They have a "reading" of each script, rehearsals and are limited to 3 takes to get it right. We complete skits in one continuous shot to limit tedious digital cuts.

2) We edit as a class. One group may be at the IWB but everyone else is giving constructive comments. Kids make bets on how many frames editors will need to go back to avoid "jump cuts" or clipping the speakers' words. They learn from their classmates!

3) And because they edit as a class, they learn what changes are necessary to make their next scripts better. Great digital editors, make effective script writers.

4) Surprisingly, after a few edit sessions, my kids made faster, cleaner cuts than I did. (Digital Natives... yeesh.) They liked being in control of the project from beginning to end. Ownership = responsibility.

Hope, thanks for your comments. And P.S. I love your maps. I am going to try one this spring!


Great. I hope your easy instructions will inspire people to try this and other technologies that they may find a bit frightening. But the real draw is the rawness of the videos. They are not polished, nor are they "professionally" edited. They are authentic kid activities. The ham acting, the inadvertent humor (like the child's hand being rolled into the dough in "Berta's Food Network"), and the ease with which scenes can be shot and re-shot should help reluctant adults to dive in and not fear making mistakes.

I would go on, but I think the confidence and joy on Daisy's (the "six-year-old digital native" and videographer) face at the beginning of your post says it all.

WOW! These videos are incredible. I love getting fresh ideas. My 4th grade class rotates with other the other 4th grade classes at our school making vocabulary videos with the Flip. We then have a fun video review with local movie stars.

We have also create Biome commercials pretending to be travel agents.

I have not taken the time to show students how to edit their movies. They are only in charge of writing, editing, and producing. I can see how the software is easy to use for my students, especially since your convinced 1st graders can handle it.

Any more suggestions?

I will have to think about how to incorporate teaching this to them to make it totally theirs.


YOU ROCK! What a great way to jazz up science! :) You know if philosopher and super educator John Dewey was alive today he would be making movies with his students too. Kids EASILY master any subject when their teacher uses their interests.

I would love to see your force and motion video and so would my kids. Please keep in touch!


My first graders make flip videos all the time!! They ABSOLUTELY LOVE doing it! We made videos on how to be a good citizen, force and motion, and we are going to make shape videos next week!

Post a Comment
(Please sign in to leave a comment. Privacy Policy)
Back to Top