Earlier this school year I posted about Pivot, which is a free download for making stop animation movies. You can read about Pivot and see an example here.
ABCya Animation for Kids
For a simpler stop animation maker, there is ABCya's animation for Kids. The background button allows you to make a background for all of your frames. I found it easy to use the copy and paste button for copying a frame and pasting the objects onto the next frame. I also used the select mode instead of the drawing mode to easily select and then move the objects I had drawn. Here is an example I made of a bouncing ball.
Recently I came across another stop animation maker. It is called JellyCam and it uses the webcam on a computer to capture frames for the movie. I haven't used this with our students yet, but I plan to soon. JellyCam is free and needs to be downloaded onto your computer. Here is a short video of how JellyCam works!
I tried JellyCam out myself and found it easy to use and fun! This would definitely be easy enough for our students in 5th grade!
The first stop animation movie I made was with a digital camera and Photostory 3. We used clay and formed our own characters. We made a background and created a story board. The movie took around 120 pictures and was quite an involved process. Having programs like Pivot and JellyCam, or a site like ABCya's Animation for Kids is making stop animation a much simpler and quicker process.