Use Stop Motion Animation to Teach about Emotions

This #PlayNGrow post is sponsored by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. Stop motion animation is a great avenue for storytelling and pretend play. Use it to help kids process their emotions and the ups and downs of life.

Use Stop Motion to Teach about Emotions

Use Stop Motion Animation to Teach about Emotions

The new movie Inside Out is about a little girl who is guided by her emotions. The Emotions – Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger – help her get through every day life. Having the emotions out front and center makes it easy to talk about them.

Aiden chose the small Joy and Sadness figurines for our stop motion movies.

Inside Out toys - Joy and Sadness

He also had to have the Sadness plush which he’s been carrying around everywhere since he got it.

Inside Out plush - Sadness


Aiden and I brainstormed ideas for our movie. The weather has been really rainy here lately, so we decided to base our story on that. Joy wants to go outside and play but Sadness can’t help but think about the rain. The next step was to storyboard our movie. Download a printable storyboard to help you organize your story, too.

Joy and Sadness needed some props. In our case, this meant a window, the sun, clouds, rain, a rainbow, flowers, and a ball. I drew the window. Aiden drew the weather. We used flower buttons for the flowers and a bouncy ball.


We filmed our first stop motion animation in a light box. For the second movie, I set Aiden up near a window. It was hard for him to reach inside the light box. For both movies, we used my DSLR on a tripod. You don’t want your camera to move in between frames.

stop motion scene with Joy and Sadness

In the future, I want to try filming with my iPhone, earbuds (using the volume buttons as a remote), and a stop motion app. I feel more comfortable letting Aiden have my iPhone with a toddler around. Lily will surely knock over the tripod.

Talking about Emotions

As we created our storyboards, we talked about the emotions Joy and Sadness had. Joy was happy because she wanted to go play outside. Playing outside is fun. Sadness was sad because she expected it to rain. Then, they couldn’t go outside and play. Joy found the silver lining in the rain – a rainbow and flowers.

Aiden filmed the second movie on his own. In it, Joy and Sadness play ball.

Aiden has plans for his next movie involving a scene from the Inside Out trailer. Joy draws a circle for Sadness. She tells Sadness to keep all of the sad inside the circle of Sadness on Riley’s first day of school. Joy wanted Riley to be happy about starting school.

This is timely since Aiden’s first day of summer school is today. He is very excited to be a kindergartner – so much so that he asked to go to summer school. We will be talking about how his first day went later.

How do you talk about emotions in your house? Do you use puppets or storytelling? Something else? Let me know in the comments!

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