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Flip Books for Fun and Learning

Updated on June 27, 2015

Kids Will Flip For Animated Flip Books

Flip books are low-tech fun that still appeal to kids today, especially if they are creating them themselves. It's not as difficult as you might think to make a flip book. Here I'll give you several easy ways to make them with normal office supplies that you probably have sitting around.

If you need a creative idea for a homeschool lesson plan, maybe making a flip book would work. Although very small children will probably find flip books too difficult to make, children in grades fourth grades and up can easily visualize and plan the frames needed for a small animated book. Younger children can play with pre-printed flip books that they cut out and assemble.

photo credit

Cute Flip Book Example

How to Make a Flip Book

Choose Your Paper

You need at least 25 pages for your flip book. The more pages you have, the nicer it will be, so don't be afraid to go for 40 or 50 pages. The pages don't have to be large. Small strips or squares are best. You want something that is easy to hold in your hand and flip with your thumb.

Small pre-purchased notepads and notebooks can be great for flip books. Sticky note pads in the traditional two inch square size are perfect. And as a plus, they can be easily taken apart and re-aligned together. If you don't have little note pads, you'll have to cut small pieces to size.

A heavy weight paper works best for flip books since they are going to be handled a lot. Don't use flimsy paper.

Plan Your Action

Do some planning on scrap paper. Make some preliminary sketches, especially knowing where you will start and end and a few of the frames in between.

Use an example flip book like the big fish eating a smaller fish here to see how the changes in the art create the illusion of motion. Watch some of the videos linked below for more ideas. Make sure the flip book artist has an understanding of how the flip book works.

Draw Your Pages

Draw on one side or even in the bottom corner of your pages. Remember that one side will be bound or clipped together. You want your animation to be on the other side. Don't go past the middle of the page towards your bound edge. Keep all the art on the open side.

Start by drawing your beginning frame and ending frames on the first and last pages. Then draw some some in-between images. Continue filling in the action with transitions of action until your pages are filled. The formal word for filling in the frames in an animation so that the transition is smooth is tweening or morphing.

Loose pages are great for being able to move your drawings around and re order them if needed.

An easy option is to use rubber stamps or stickers. Your image will be static, but you can move it up and down the pages to give the illusion of motion. Try stamping partially off the page as a starting or ending point.

Check Your Work

Look at your action by flipping through the pages. Does it work? Where does the action jump too much? Add transition frames in those bad spots. Edit as necessary to make your animated flip book smooth.

Bind Your Book

When you are satisfied with your animation, Make a cover page and secure one side firmly with a binder clip. Enjoy your flip book!

Supplies For a Simple Flip Book

Post-it Notes Cube, 1 7/8 in x 1 7/8 in, Orange Wave, 400 Sheets/Cube (2051-N)
Post-it Notes Cube, 1 7/8 in x 1 7/8 in, Orange Wave, 400 Sheets/Cube (2051-N)

The standard two inch square post-it note is perfect for flip books. Choose a color that you can easily draw onto.

 
OfficemateOIC Mini Binder Clips, Assorted Colors, 60 Clips per Tub (31024)
OfficemateOIC Mini Binder Clips, Assorted Colors, 60 Clips per Tub (31024)

Clip one edge or securely with binder clips. They are far superior to simple paper clips when it comes to holding power.

 

Applications for a Flip Book - Or When Could I Use Flip Books for Homeschool?

Let me say right off the bat that flip books can be made purely for the fun of them. Even without tying them to a lesson plan, making a flip book is a critical thinking activity (more on that below). And it's crafty. So you can count the flip book as your art lesson if you'd like.

You can also study the history of movie making, animation, and the science of optics.

But if you want to tie a flip book into an academic subject, here are some ideas that work well.

  1. steps in process

    a seed germinating and growing

    life cycles such as egg, larvae, chrysalis, and butterfly

  2. growth and movement

    dough rising

    an animal's motion

    a ball hurtling through the air

    a vehicle moving forward

    cell division

  3. an event from history

    For a more advanced artist or a high school student, a flip book could actually recount a snipped of history. Imagine the apple falling on Issac Newton's head, Columbus's ship landing on the coast of Hispaniola, or the Great Chicago Fire starting in a barn.

A Flip Book How-to Manual Plus Supplies

Quick Draw Flip Books
Quick Draw Flip Books

This kit (perfect for gifting) contains not only directions for making flip books but also some reusable clips to hold the pages together and some markers.

 

Free Printable Flip Book Templates - Cut and Assemble

This collection of links is a hodgepodge of academic printables plus just for fun printables. But they all create flip books simply by cutting and assembling. Although they may not suit the topic you wanted to make a flip book for, at least they will give your children a clear idea of what a flip book is.

A Flip Book Made With Rubber Stamps

A Flip Book With Index Cards

Educational Benefits of Making Flip Books

Although flip books are very fun, they are not a silly waste of time. There are many academic connections that can be made with creating flip books.

  1. Planning

    To make a flip book, you've got to plan ahead (and sometimes even backwards) to make the action work.

  2. Visualization

    Imagining the action you want to capture and then putting that on paper requires a mental ability to visualize.

  3. Critical Thinking

    Once the problem spots are identified, the flip book creator must decide the best way to smooth them out. That can require trial and error and plenty of critical thinking.

Animation Bible - Taking Flip Books to the Next Level

If your child shows a real interest in flip books, he may want to go on to study more animation. This reference book is a great place to start learning the principles and even how they apply to digital animation too.

The Animation Bible: A Practical Guide to the Art of Animating from Flipbooks to Flash
The Animation Bible: A Practical Guide to the Art of Animating from Flipbooks to Flash

Flip books are just the beginning. Learn about the principles of animation with this comprehensive guide. The ideas transfer into digital flash animation as well.

 

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    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 3 years ago

      I used to love to make these as a kid. I bet my daughter would so enjoy this. Thank you!

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 5 years ago

      I remember making some flip books when I was in school, it was lots of fun. These were a precursor to animated gifs on the internet.

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 5 years ago

      I always enjoyed making animated doodles on notebooks and post-it pads. It's a great activity to pass the time!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 6 years ago from Royalton

      I remember making flip books as a child. They were so much fun! I hadn't thought of using them as a teaching or learning tool. Thanks for the lens and delightful suggestion.