How do you reset? What helps you find calm?

It was amazing the first time I ever explored Flat Lay photography (aka a picture taken from above) with students, and then we wove in animation; it became magical

The power of stop motion is that anything you can touch can be animated. One of my favourite ideas that I have used with learning communities, young and old (even grown-ups), is a mindfulness flat lay. Discussing emotions and stress management is part of our health curriculum here in Ontario, but they aren't always easy conversations, especially with middle schoolers. By curating items from their life, we found more authentic and deeper discussions that articulated how individual mindfulness practices are. The bonus: Creating our flat lay animations allowed us to reset ourselves.


A GIF showing the animation of the flat lay image.
My Example - How I reset GIF
I couldn't resist adding a bit more movement to the animation. I love that I can also export the stop motion as a video clip.


We started with the question: How do you reset? What helps you find calm? I always show kids my collection of items before sending them off to curate their collections. Whether kids were online and collecting items around their home or in person bringing them in a Ziploc bag, I always have loose parts around that kids can add to their flat lay to ensure there are no limits on kids' creativity. Then it's time to create & animate! After modeling a few composition techniques - size, colour, balance & arrangements, learners dove into animating, taking a picture as they added one item at a time.  

Learn how using the Everyone Can Create Project 'Animate with Stop Motion’.

A screenshot of the animation project in progress in Light Table view.
Really like how the Light Table view allows me to make quick edits with a large project.


  • A solid background always makes your Flatlay look crisper. It doesn't need to be expensive! Grab some coloured Bristol board at your local dollar store.

There are so many ways to tweak this lesson for other subject areas. For example, we have explored identity flat lays, created an animated flat lay for a fictional or historical character, or even demonstrated our understanding of math with a concept animation like showing the many representations of a half.

What would you like to try? I would love to hear your ideas!

Learn how, and explore more Everyone Can Create Projects >

An image of an illustrated student with an iPad showing their work to their teacher.


5 replies

August 13, 2023

Thanks for sharing this activity, Tina! I love the different prompts you've begun with for these flat lays, and this example of the wellness "how do you reset" prompt would be great for all ages to consider. Really appreciate you sharing this idea with us!

September 07, 2023

Really love this project. Great use of photography and animations with stop motion.

September 07, 2023

Love the concept of photography Flat Lay - so cool to integrate that with Stop Motion. Super SEL activity with students collecting and curating items from their life! Thanks!

September 08, 2023

Tina, I've always loved your flat lays, and adding animation to them is lovely. I like the SEL theme of "reset" - so personal but also easy to represent. Do you have stands that you use to hold the iPad/iPhone when you create these?

September 10, 2023

Yeah I love how quick it is in Keynote and how I can keep the image quality with a short GIF like this. With kids we usually use the side of a chair, a stool (my fav), clear bins or table close to a window for natural light. I'm sure someone else has a better solution out there.

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