A fun activity to do on a mobile!

During that first long lockdown, Chris found this great way to bring animals to life on her phone (all those screen hours paid off!). You might have seen it too. As soon as I saw it, my mind was racing on about 3D animal ideas for classroom use. It’s great fun just for the students to use it to make animals.  But I really like the way that you can film and save the video too – it lends itself to so many project ideas!

Unfortunately, you can’t make every animal (yet). There are around 30 so far (full list at the end of the page, but sadly no monkeys to play with Charlie, or frogs for ‘Keep fit with Froggie’).  Google has said it will be adding more animals in the future.

By the way, it’s not just animals, but also planets and the body, which they’ve done in conjunction with BioDigital. This has some pretty amazing 3D body parts: https://www.biodigital.com/. We’ll look at this in another post.

Here’s the video on how to do it, followed by the 3D animal ideas we’ve had so far about exploiting this app.  We’ll be adding more when we think of them.


Film yourself with one of the 3D animals, or probably an easier way would be to get someone to film you!! You could use this as an introduction to the book by Judith Kerr The Tiger who came to Tea. Show the students a video clip of you having tea with the tiger, and ask students about it. For example, ‘Where am I?’, ‘What am I doing?’, ‘What’s that?’, ‘What’s the tiger doing?’ And then tell the class ‘That reminds me of a really interesting book called The Tiger who came to Tea. Do you want to hear it?’. You’ve already set the scene, and showing the film allows you to teach and explain the vocabulary in context too.

You could do something similar for Aesop’s ‘The Lion and the Mouse.’

Or as an introduction to one of my favourite books: Brown Bear, Brown Bear.

Show and tell

Just like the original ‘Show and Tell’ (which is sometimes called ‘Show and Share’), a common activity in primary schools in the UK and North America. This is where the student brings something to class and talks about it for a few minutes. It’s normally something that makes a lasting impression; for example, something that reminds them of their favourite holiday. It aims to help with public speaking.

Anyway, the students can do the same with a 3D animal – they choose an animal, show it walking around their house, do a bit of research and tell the class about it. You could give the students stem sentences to complete. You can make them as easy or as difficult as you want, depending on the age and level of your students.

Example ‘show and tell’ template

The animal I chose is a/an………….

I like it because………..

Here you can see it in my ……….. but normally it lives in ………….

They eat……….

3D panda photo

At least we had some visitors at the height of lockdown!

3D eagle photo

Simple story boards

This is a great idea for 21st-century skills. What students will need are storyboard templates that you can easily find with an internet search, or simply a page with large squares. Basically, the students have to carefully think about what they are going to film before they do it. I’m all for improvisation, but, in this case, spending some time planning what they are going to shoot can lead to some spectacular results. Personally, I think that if you offer the opportunity for students to do the pictures by hand it’s more advantageous than using computer images or clip art. There will always be a couple of kids in the class who will complain that they can’t draw, but the vast majority will get on with it. It’s important to remember that actual act of drawing is extremely satisfying. The putting of pencil to paper helps their ideas to develop and grow.

Animal habits and habitats

We can’t leave this post without mentioning the many ways you could use this for animal projects.  Seeing the animals in 3D really engages students’ interest.  It motivates the older ones to discover more about their favourite animals, so there are many possible follow-ups.  They could write something to accompany the videos.  Younger learners could just make a poster.  Once they’ve found out more about their creature, this makes a good springboard into playing ‘Guess my animal’ (20 Questions).

Full list of 3D animals available so far:

Alligator, python, brown bear, cat, cheetah, deer, various dogs, duck, eagle, rabbit, emperor penguin, panda, goat, hedgehog, horse, leopard, lion, macaw, octopus, raccoon, shark, shetland pony, snake, tiger, turtle and wolf.

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