Common Sense Review
Updated May 2016

LEGO® Movie Maker

Stop-motion animation app has limited features, may inspire creativity
Common Sense Rating 3
  • The tool has three sections: Make A Movie, Movie Gallery, and Instructions.
  • Browse your creations in the Movie Gallery.
  • A helpful tutorial explains the onion-skinning feature.
  • Creating a title page is super simple.
  • The Movie Making section features a grid to aid on-screen composition.
  • Users can edit music, speed, and effects and add sound effects.
  • There's a range of sound effects to choose from.
  • You can also add digital stickers to a frame of your movie.
  • You can adjust the frame duration on-screen.
  • Your saved videos appear in the Movie Gallery.
  • Instructions are straightforward and easy to follow.
  • Use the settings menu to fine-tune the features just the way you like them.
Built-in features such as prerecorded audio and super-simple creation tools make it a snap to get started and to customize your experience.
Too-brief instructions and some overly simple features (such as a too-small frame rate) might limit the quality of your final product.
Bottom Line
Despite its limitations, a robust, easy-to-use tool for creating stop-motion animation.
Melissa Hayes
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Basic instructions help students start animating right away, and lots of features help them gain in-depth understanding of stop-motion animation.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

With easy-to-use features and lots of flexibility, this empowering tool helps kids experiment with an inventive way to create slick animated movies.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 2

Instructions are accessible from the main page and give a limited how-to overview. Tutorials on Lego's YouTube page provide more in-depth information, but they're not linked from within the app. 

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How Can Teachers Use It?

It's worth noting that this tool doesn't just have to be used with Lego bricks and figures; instead, it's a super-cool tool for helping your students give stop-motion animation a try. Consider offering this as a tool for a class video or presentation. Encourage your students to illustrate a story from history or a scene from a play or novel via stop-motion animation. This also might be an opportunity for a creative-writing or theater class to create inventive shorts that tell stories. Also, think about who your students' audience might be for their creations. This might be a great opportunity to create content for authentic audiences outside their school communities. Talk about what's appropriate to share publicly online, then let your students' imaginations run wild with creating their very own creations in this distinctive, inventive visual style.

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What's It Like?

LEGO Movie Maker is an animation-creation tool that features most of the tools a professional stop-motion animator would need. The app features three sections: "Make A Movie" (which is exactly what it sounds like), "Movie Gallery" (where you store your creations), and "Instructions" (where you learn how it all  works). Students can create a stop-motion animation by creating a title page, taking pictures of characters, adding music and sound effects, and exporting to the camera roll. Students have access to important stop-motion animation features such as onion skinning, snap to capture, and grid. You can edit sound effects and record audio by clicking "Edit" on the frame. Movies can be easily saved to the device's camera roll and shared via email, Google Drive, Google Classroom, Dropbox, YouTube, or any other digital-sharing platform.

The "Instructions" section explains how to use the app, but the directions are minimal and leave out important information. A collection of tutorials can be found on the Lego YouTube page. These videos explain the basics of stop-motion animation and help students understand how to best use the app's many features. 

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Is It Good For Learning?

It's empowering and engaging that LEGO Movie Maker arms students with tools to start animating instantly. Students should probably check out the videos on Lego's YouTube page. Though they're not linked from within the app, those videos offer detailed, explicit instructions on how to make the most of the app's features. As it is, the instructions section is pretty bare-bones, and, though the app is easy to use, students may not level up their understanding without a more in-depth tutorial. Also, some of the features fall short: The frames-per-second (FPS) should have a range greater than 10 FPS, and the sound-effect options should appear along the main navigation bar with other features such as music, effects, and speed.

At its best, though, LEGO Movie Maker introduces students to a suite of tools that professional stop-motion animators use, and, with the right context and guidance, it might inspire them to think creatively about how they tell stories and present information in this distinctive medium. 

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