3D Animation Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

What is three-dimensional animation and how is it made? Answer these and other questions about the art with this lesson plan that includes an informational text, activities, and a quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 3D animation
  • compare and contrast two and three-dimensional animation
  • explain the history of three-dimensional animation
  • describe the process of creating three-dimensional animation


1 - 1.5 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3

Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


  • Copies of the lesson 3-D Animation: History & Definition, one for each student
  • Samples of three-dimensional video such as Gumby or Robot Chicken for student viewing
  • Technology with 3-D capabilities, if available
  • Clay
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Cameras
  • Technology to upload and animate still images

Key Vocabulary

  • Animate
  • Flip-books
  • 2-D animation
  • Computer Generated Imagery (CGI)
  • Stop-motion
  • Claymation
  • Computer graphics

Warm-Up and Preparation

  • Give each student three pieces of paper and have them fold each piece into eighths.
  • Have students unfold paper and cut along the lines, stack the small papers, then staple them on the left side to create a small book.
  • Instruct students to create a flip-book using simple drawings. Demonstrate with a walking man.
  • When students are finished, allow them to share their books in a small group. Ask:
    • What type of animation is this?
    • Why do the images seem to move?
  • Tell students this is two-dimensional and explain they will be learning about three-dimensional animation today.

Direct Instruction

  • Set aside flip books and distribute the lesson 3-D Animation: History & Definition.
  • Read 'Definition of 3-D Versus 2-D Animation' together and discuss:
    • How are two-dimensional and three-dimensional animation similar?
    • How are they different?
  • Now read 'History of 3-D Animation' together and show images and video of some of the films mentioned in this section. Ask:
    • What do you notice about the evolution of three-dimensional animation?
    • What accounts for this evolution?
  • Give each small group index cards and have them write the titles for each animation movie mentioned in the section 'History of 3-D Animation' from Gumby to The Hobbit, leaving out the dates.
  • Tell groups to mix cards and set in a pile in the middle, flipping the first card and placing on the table.
  • Have each student take turns pulling a card and placing on the table either before or after the other cards to form a time-line of 3-D animation.
  • After this game, read the remainder of the lesson and have the students take the quiz in their groups.

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