Animation brings War of 1812 to life for Stella Maris Grade 7 students


By Joel Charron

Grade 7 Stella Maris students are combining old animation techniques with modern technology to learn about the War of 1812.

Using the dioramas the students built, Grade 7 teacher Mark DeThomasis’s class are creating short animated films. The student made animations will not only be seen in school, but also will been seen at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada. The films will also be shown on the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB0 channel on You Tube.


Mia Deluca and Katie Stevenson take still shots of their dioramas with an iPad. Over 400 still shots will be taken to complete a scene

The dioramas were created with the help of artist Suzanne Konya and Elaine Carr, arts and social science consultant with WECDSB. They believed the dioramas were done so well that they should be part of animations. They will be part of the “Paths to Peace” project that is being done in conjunctions with schools in Michigan and Ohio.

“They created dioramas about the War of 1812. They each picked a story,” said Carr. “I looked at those and they were so cool. I brought iPads to see if we could animate them as sets. They all look like sets you’d see in an animation studio.”

DeThomasis said when the iPads first appeared in his class the students were so completely wrapped up in them that they ignored the recess bell when it went off. He mentioned that this method of learning is more in line with students of today because it’s more hands-on with technology that they are familiar with. He also added that the student may “soak in” more knowledge using the iPads rather than only learning through books and classroom lessons.

“It’s very neat. It’s hands-on,” said DeThomasis. “They love it. Because of this, (the lessons) will stay with them longer and they will remember what they did.”

The students are using a free animation app offered through the National Film Board, she added. The animations will be at Fort Malden May 17-24.

“This is a great experience for the student to be involved in,” said Carr. “It’s one of the ways to learn about the War of 1812 and the Canada-U.S. connection in a less dry and more engaging method.”

Students Mia Deluca and Katie Stevenson say the project has been fun.

“It’s definitely a different way to learn,” said Deluca. “I never thought we would be able to do something like this.”

“Projects like this make learning fun and not so boring,” said Stevenson.

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