Motion Picture Craft


Zoetrope Craft
Click the photo to view or print the pattern and instructions for this craft.

20th Century Modern

The Century of Electricity

The Atomic Age

“Mairzy Doats” was a popular song from the 1940s.  Our mom taught us the song when we were kids.  It was fun to sing it because the lyrics were funny nonsense words.  One day my mom decided to slow it down and say each word individually, “Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.  A kid’ll eat ivy, too.  Wouldn’t you?”  I was so amazed and delighted when I realized I’d been singing real words without even knowing it.

“Where the Red Fern Grows” was the first chapter book my son, Jack, was assigned to read in elementary school.  He wasn’t a big fan of reading, so we read the book together, as a family.  The book is about a boy who lives in the Ozark Mountains during the Great Depression.  He enjoys hunting and saves his money to buy a pair of coonhound puppies, Old Dan and Little Ann.  We had a new puppy at the time, so the book had a special meaning to our family.  We read a chapter every evening.  The final chapters were read during a car trip.  I’d never read it before and didn’t know how it ended.  It was a great story, but not suitable for car reading.  We actually had to pull over because our eyes couldn’t see the road through our tears.


#10 Modern Art – Art styles were rapidly changing.  The camera made it possible to record moments in history.  It was no longer necessary for artists to recreate those images.  Artists began to look at subjects in new ways.  They wanted their art to have meaning beyond what the viewer saw on the canvas.  New styles that re-imagined perspective on 3-dimensional objects were invented.  The modern artists made paintings that showed emotion through color and brush stroke.  Some of the new art styles included:  Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism.

#9 World War I – A new nationalism divided Europe.  World War I began in 1914 with the assassination of Austrian Archduke, Franz Ferdinand.  The Allies (France, Great Britain, Italy, Serbia, Russia, Japan, and the U.S.) fought the Central Powers  (Germany, Austria,  Turkey, and Bulgaria).  The United States didn’t want to enter the war, but when the Germans sank a British ship with Americans on board, the U.S. decided to fight.  The war ended in 1918.  It was a horrifying war.  Soldiers battled with modern weapons.  Millions of lives were lost.

#8 The Roaring 20s and the Stock Market Crash – In the 1920s,  people were making lots of money in the stock market.  The economy was booming and people were spending money on merchandise and entertainment.  Women had new freedoms and the right to vote.  People were optimistic about America’s economic future.  They started buying merchandise on credit.  America’s debt grew quickly.  In the meantime, many American banks and businesses were unregulated and used poor business and accounting practices.  Much of the wealth was held by a few people. Stock values soared.  People thought this prosperity would go on forever, but it didn’t.   On October 29th, 1929, the stock market crashed.

#7 The Great Depression was a period in the 1930s when the economy tanked, leaving about a fourth of the population homeless, hungry, and jobless.  Homeless Americans built temporary housing out of  junk like wood scraps, cardboard, cement blocks, and tar paper.  They lived in these make-shift shantytowns near soup kitchens so they could get a warm meal each day.  These shack towns existed in most U.S. cities.  They were called “Hoovervilles,” named after the president people blamed for the bad economy.

#6 The Dust Bowl was a terrible drought in the Midwest in the 1930s.  Lack of rain created soil that was so dry, it turned to dust.  Wind picked up the dusty soil creating black dust clouds.  The giant storms were called “black blizzards.”  Sometimes, the dust was so thick, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.  Farmers couldn’t grow crops in the dusty soil.  Their animals were choking and dying.  People packed up and left their farms.

#5 The New Deal was a series of government funded programs, initiated by the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, that helped Americans recover from the Great Depression.  It changed the way people thought about the role of the government.  The New Deal created a public works program that provided jobs for people who were willing to help rebuild city roads and buildings.  There were programs to help farmers improve their farms.  There were housing programs to help keep people in their homes.  The Social Security Act was passed in 1935.  A labor act which guaranteed rights to unions and workers was also passed.

#4 World War II  was a war between the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, Japan) and the Allied Powers (Britain, U.S., Russia, and France).  The Nazi party of Germany promised the German people that it would once again become a great economic and military power.  They banned free speech and a free press.  They persecuted people who were not of “pure” Aryan descent by taking away their rights and hauling them away to concentration camps.  Meanwhile, Japan had invaded China.  They wanted to control all of Asia.  They signed a military alliance with Germany and Italy.  The United States hoped to stay out of the war, but in 1941, the Japanese made a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.  In 1944, the U.S. Army Air Corp began a massive bombing on Dresden, Germany.  They completely destroyed the city and killed many civilians.  On June 6, 1944, D-day took place.  It was a huge military operation.  The allied forces attacked by land, sea, and air to drive the Germans back into Germany.   On August 6 and 9 in 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on two cities in Japan, killing and wounding thousands of people and destroying the cities.  On September 2, 1945, Japan officially surrendered.  The United Nations was formed to provide a forum where member nations could discuss their grievances and solve problems to, hopefully, avoid war.

#3 Airplanes and Automobiles – The first airplane flight took place in Kitty Hawk, NC on December 17, 1903 when Orville Wright made a 12 second flight in a plane he and his brother, Wilbur, designed and built.  On May 20, 1927, Charles Lindbergh was the first pilot to fly from New York to Paris.    In 1932, Amelia Earhart was the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.

The automobile or “horseless carriage” changed everything.  One very noticeable difference, streets were cleaner once horses stopped using them as bathrooms.  There wasn’t just one inventor of the automobile.  There were many scientists whose innovations eventually led to the creation of the engine.  Nicholas Otto was not a scientist, he was a traveling grocery salesman who taught himself engineering.  Otto made the first efficient gasoline engine.  Karl Benz built a carriage that used the engine.  His wife and kids took the “car” on a road trip without asking.  The boys had to get out and push to car up every hill.  That test-drive gave Benz the idea to put gears in the car.  In the 1800s, Charles Goodyear discovered the secret to making good tires.  But it was Henry Ford’s idea to manufacture cars on an assembly line that made owning a car possible for many Americans.  Ford cars cost $260 in 1925.

#2 The Atomic Age Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity changed the way scientists looked at the world.  (E=mc² is one equation from his theory.)  Einstein’s work set the foundation for many new inventions including the atomic bomb and nuclear energy.

#1 Entertainment – People from both sides of the United States were watching the same movies and listening to the same music and radio shows.  The first film to be distributed internationally (1902) was Le Voyage dans la lune or “A Trip to the Moon.”  It’s about 14 minutes long and you can watch it on YouTube.   The silent film era lasted from 1895 to1936.  “Talkies” or films with a soundtrack were commercially shown in 1923.  The first full length talkie was “The Jazz Singer,” released in 1927.  “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With the Wind” were the first Technicolor films (1939).

Before television, people listened to the radio.  Radio broadcasting began in the early 1900s.  People listened to music, news broadcasts, sports games, fictional stories, lectures, and weather reports.  By 1930, 60% of American homes had radios.  On October 30, 1938 a broadcast of H G Wells novel “The War of the Worlds” caused mass panic when listeners thought aliens were attacking Earth.

Because motion pictures have changed the way we see the world, I decided to make a ZOETROPE craft.  The zoetrope was a toy that showed the viewer a series of pictures in motion.  In 1877, Edward Muybridge set up 12 cameras on a racetrack to photograph a running horse.  He put the photos in a spinning wheel to show the motion of a galloping horse.  Click ZOETROPE to get the pattern and instructions for the craft.

Click the link to go to 20TH CENTURY MODERN on my website for FREE activities or to purchase the unit.

Statue of Liberty

Learn about Lady Liberty.

Make this 3D statue.

Statue of Liberty Craft
Click the image to view or print the pattern and instructions for this craft.



THE AGE OF INVENTION (1850 to 1900)

In fourth grade I was introduced to tall tales and legends of the Wild West.  Our teacher shared with us the stories of Pecos Bill and his girlfriend Slue-foot Sue.  She taught us a song about John Henry and his hammer.  And she read us the adventures of Paul Bunyan and his giant blue ox, Babe.   Hearing theses stories was like reading my favorite comic book, “The Fantastic Four.”  Paul could stretch out to great heights and lengths like Reed Richards.  John Henry was super strong like Ben.  And Pecos Bill and Sue were amazing like Johnny and Sue Storm.  I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to be in a classroom where this was a topic of study!

In fifth grade, our music teacher taught us the words to a song about a brave abolitionist named John Brown.  “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave.  His soul is marching on.”  I did not know what abolitionist meant or who John Brown was or why he was molding in a grave.  I just remember we had to stop singing the song because it made the twin brother and sister in my class sob uncontrollably.  Their mother had passed away and any mention of death or graves was too much for them to bear.  I liked singing the song and felt annoyed by their crying.    It wasn’t until years later, when I learned the history of John Brown that the words to the song came flooding back into my brain along with the feeling of embarrassment for my lack of sensitivity to the twin’s immense sadness.

When she was a first grader, there was nothing my daughter wanted more than an American Girl doll, specifically, Samantha.  She wrote a long note to Santa requesting just one gift, the Victorian era doll with beautiful clothes, long dark hair, and brown eyes.   She cited good behavior and good grades as the reason she deserved such an expensive gift.  Santa agreed with her self-assessment.  She got the doll!  She also got an education about the Victorian era.  The doll came with a series of stories about her life in Victorian America.  It was a really clever (and expensive) way to introduce girls to history.

Wild West Town


#10 Realism & Impressionism are the art styles from this time period.  The realists wanted their art to look like real life.  They painted real people doing real life things.  Their paintings often represented the harsh reality of poverty.  In the past, only rich people appeared in paintings.  The impressionists used dabs of color to give an impression of what they saw.  They were more interested in the scene than the people they were painting.  Before the impressionist movement, the people were always centered in a painting.  The impressionists often painted the people off to the side.

#9  Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a series of newspaper stories about a slave named Tom.  The stories told of the horrors inflicted on enslaved African Americans.  Her articles became a book called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”  It was read by many people and started an anti-slavery movement in the North and widespread anger in the South.

#8 The Underground Railroad was a passage to freedom for some slaves.  It was named “underground” because it was a secret, and “railroad” because it was a way to transport people.  The homes where slaves would hideout were called stations or depots.  The people who helped the slaves escape were called conductors.  Conductors provided temporary shelter and supplies.  The trip was dangerous.  Stations were 10 to 20 miles apart.  Slaves traveled on foot at night from one station to another.   Slaves or conductors who were caught would be severely punished or killed.

#7 The Civil War (The War Between the States) The southern states had grown wealthy from the use of slave labor on their plantations.  The northern states were using machine labor.  As American territory started expanding westward, people began to question whether or not slavery should be permitted in the new states.  The “Missouri Compromise” said each state should decide for themselves.  This created more problems.   In the 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott decision, it was decided that a slave did not become free when taken to a free state.  The United States needed to be united in their thoughts about slavery.  The North and South went to war to fight for their side of the argument.   The Civil War cost more American lives than any other war in history.  The North won the war.  On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued the “Emancipation Proclamation” which freed all slaves.  On November 19th, he gave the “Gettysburg Address” in which he expressed hope that the nation would be freer and more united.

#6 The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments – The 13th Amendment to the constitution ended slavery.  The 14th amendment granted citizenship to all people born in the United States.  The 15th amendment gave African American men the right to vote.

#5  The Wild West was the untamed area west of the Mississippi River.  Outlaws, pioneers, Native Americans, cowboys, prospectors, and gunslingers  were the people of the Wild West.

#4 Tall Tales and Legends – As mentioned above, kids love hearing the exaggerated stories of the heroes of the Wild West.

#3 Immigrants – Ellis Island has welcomed many immigrants.  Unless you are a Native American, everyone has an immigrant ancestor.  Immigrants from European countries were coming to America on large crowded ships.  The voyage took a week or two.  Every ship carrying immigrants passed the Statue of Liberty as it arrived in New York Harbor.  Each ship was carefully inspected for disease before anyone could exit.  Wealthy passengers were the first to exit onto ferry boats.  The boats took them to Ellis Island where the passengers were given a medical exam.  If they passed, they were asked a series of 29 questions about their personal history and intentions in America.

#2 New Inventions –  Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.  Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.  The Singer sewing machine was manufactured for home use.  Early versions of the typewriter, camera, and automobile were also invented.

#1 The Industrial Revolution took place when America became a country dominated by industry and machines.  Before this time, Americans were farmers and handcrafters.  Factories with machines that created goods brought jobs to the cities.  Railroads connected the U.S. from coast to coast.  Trains transported goods and people.

Many poor children (as young as 4)  worked full-time to help support their family.  The hours were long.  The work was dangerous and the pay was super low.   Some kids worked as Breaker Boys—breaking up coal, Matchgirls—dipping wooden sticks into dangerous chemicals to make matches, Chimney Sweeps—cleaning soot out of chimneys, and Newsies—selling newspapers on street corners.

THE STATUE OF LIBERTY is one of the most recognized symbols of America.  Click STATUE OF LIBERTY CRAFT to get the pattern and instructions for the craft.

Click the link to go to the REALISM / IMPRESSIONISM page of my website for FREE activities or to purchase the unit.