The most important thing for which we can prepare a child is the experience of freedom, at the right moment in life, through the understanding of one's own being.


Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)

Teaching Practice > Media
media education, media literacy, media maturity, middle school, self-determination, direct media education, indirect media education
By: Julia Kernbach, May 2019,

Active media education in class using the example of stop-motion animated film technique

This article makes the case for using digital media as tools in school in order to understand them as a means to an end. Digital media are used creatively to help make ideas visible. Active media work requires a student to be able to work with media independently and to use it as a means of communication. If students merely respond to the needs of a program or app, this would preclude self-determination in the use of digital media.

The stop-motion animated film is an film technique, in which objects are physically manipulated in small steps between individually photographed frames, so that they seem to show an independent movement when the image series is reproduced as a faster sequence. This is the digital equivalent of the flipbook. Of course, this technique can only be understood as a single component in media education and can be accompanied by many other media projects.


On the occasion of the "Swiss Teachers Conference 2019" in Dornach, I was invited to a workshop in stop-motion animation technique to show Waldorf teachers how to apply this technique in their lessons. My goal was to show different variations of this technique. So we formed small groups to make different films. We worked together in very different, but also very creative groups on this topic. 


Video Link: Snail and Apple

Video Link: Adventure


In this article I describe the topics that were discussed and worked on and I discuss how suitable this technique is for the transition from analogue to digital media pedagogy at Waldorf schools. 


Why is the stop-motion animation technique suitable as an introduction to creative and active media work in a Waldorf School? 

If we regard media competence as a process on the way to maturity, this process must begin with analogue media, such as text, images and symbols and other artistic media. The first steps towards media literacy are taken in a largely media-free environment when children are young. The notion of media maturity implies a process through which a becomes mature in the use of digital media. One does not simply become mature through using media, this requires support and encouragement in right use. 


Maturity is about becoming more autonomous and capable of self-determination. Paula Bleckmann (1) has defined media maturity primarily as the ability of a person to decide independently how long, in what way and for what purpose he or she uses screen media. Much is being done in Waldorf schools to achieve media maturity, especially by virtue of the fact that the first seven years of school are usually screen-free. Intensive use of the hands and whole body in meaningful activities provides a basis for the development of physical and mental abilities. Edwin Hübner (2) refers to these first years of a child as a time without screen media during which direct and indirect media education can occur.


Indirect media education enables children to develop the abilities necessary for successfully  dealing with the world of media technology, by first allowing them to gain physical and tactile (haptic) experiences. After indirect media education, direct media education enables a person to use digital media sensibly and independently. Although indirect media education in the time of the class teacher takes place largely without digital media, it is nevertheless a preparation for direct media education. 


Then media education changes at the point when pupils are obviously ready to slowly start with digital media. This may be the time to start with the stop-motion animation technique. 


The stop-motion animation technique includes both analogue and digital media education, so this technique is particularly suitable for the transition from analogue to digital media work. The teacher can choose to start with significantly more analogue work and less digital work. According to the idea of media maturity, the pupils must first create something with their own hands. This can, for example, involve modelling the characters for the film with clay or using paper or other material. The background also has to be designed and as all this happens, the story emerges and grows. 


This method is suitable from the 6th grade onwards and in my experience there is no upper age limit. The younger the students are, the more craftsmanlike their method of design is, such as modelling with clay. The older the students are, the more abstract the production process can be. The two examples shown here, both created by teachers during the workshop, show the possibilities. The film with the chalk on the blackboard was only shot with characters who were in the room. This makes the production process much more abstract. The students can also become characters in the film. In this way, for example, social topics can be dealt with in a different medium.


Once the creative and construction phase is complete, the digital technology comes into its own with the camera. Taking all the photos - usually between 100 and 300 photos - requires a lot of concentration, as does entering them into the computer program afterwards. This shows in an understandable way how a film works and how much work is put into a film/video clip and thus also creates respect for the shooting of a film. The process shows that it is much more work than it looks on YouTube.


One guiding principle for active media work is the emphasis on the production of images orientation. Furthermore, the media work should be integrated into the themes of the respective class curriculum. The age, development and experience of the pupils must be taken into account. The stop-motion animation technique can fulfil these aspects. To conclude on a very practical note; a stop-motion animation film does not require a media lab - this can be done in any classroom.



Julia Kernbach works with children in the Museum Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf with analogue and digital media, such as stop motion films. Her focus is on the active use of media, digital or analogue. Kernbach is part of the "Media Education" working group at her children's Waldorf School in Düsseldorf. She also works at Waldorf schools with parents and teachers on media pedagogy and is a REAL DABEI coach for prevention programs in kindergartens and primary schools to help children, educators and parents to use media critically and risk-free.



(1) Bleckmann, P. (2012). Medienmündig. Wie unsere Kinder selbstbestimmt mit dem Bildschirm umgehen lernen. Stuttgart: Klett- Cotta.

(2) Hübner, E. (2005). Anthropologische Medienerziehung, Grundlagen und Gesichtspunkte. Frankfurt/ Main: Peter Lang

(2) Hübner, E., (2015). Medien und Pädagogik. Gesichtspunkte zum Verständnis der Medien, Grundlagen einer anthroposophisch- anthropologischen Medienpädagogik. Stuttgart: edition Waldorf 


Further reading

Struwwelpeter 2.0.Shockheaded Peter.German or English. (2015).Media competency and Waldorf education. Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen.

Levin, Diane E. (2013). Beyond Remote Controlled Childhood:Teaching Young Children in the MediaAge. Washington: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Schell, F. (2005). Aktive Medienarbeit. In: Hüther, J., Schorb, B. (Hrsg.). Grundbegriffe Medienpädagogik. München: kopaed.

Hattie, J., Zierer, K. (2016). Kenne deinen Einfluss! „Visible Learning“ für die Unterrichtspraxis. Baltmannsweiler: Schneider.

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