Ball Bounce Animation
Updated: Jun 4
Students animate a bouncing ball using Google Slides in this activity. They begin by drawing or selecting a ball from the Internet to use in the animation. Students animate the ball by duplicating slides and slightly repositioning the ball between each copy. When the ball hits the edge of a slide, they use the Squash & Stretch principle to create a bounce effect. The activity takes about 45 minutes, and students need a basic understanding of Google Slides.
The ball bounce animation is the first animation activity I do with students because it’s simple and students can apply two of the basic principles of animation: Timing and Squash & Stretch. When students move the ball between slides, moving the ball a lot makes the ball go fast. Moving it a little makes the ball go slow. This is the crux of the Timing principle. Using the Squash & Stretch principle, the ball compresses and then decompresses as it bounces. This makes the ball seem livelier and gives it a cartoony look.
When I show students how to make a Google Slide animation, it often amazes them by duplicating slides you can create animation. Even though most kids have seen a lot of animation, they don’t necessarily understand how it works. This harkens back to the early days of animation. In the early 1900s, merely creating animation was an accomplishment, and audiences were thrilled by drawings that seemed to move on their own. You can see this in some of the early animations. For example, the first fully animated cartoon, Fantasmgorie by Emile Cohl in 1908, is a series of nonsensical drawings on a chalkboard.
Student Google accounts
Students need to know how to use Google Shapes and duplicate slides
Students can use PowerPoint or other similar presentation software, such as Prezi. However, there are some advantages to using Google Slides to create animation. Google accounts are free, and many schools already offer them to their students. Since Google Slides are web-based, students can work on their animations at home. Students can also share their animations by adjusting the transition timing so the slideshow runs in the browser (see the tutorial).
I begin the activity by showing students various balls bouncing animations (see resources). It's useful to draw attention to specific details, such as how the ball squashes and extends as it bounces. Then, either show the tutorial or demonstrate how to make a ball bounce animation in Google Slides.
Allow pupils a minute to mentally plan their slides before they begin creating them. Here are some questions that may help them plan:
What type of ball will I use?
What path will the ball take?
What background should I use, and how will it relate to the ball?
They might also think about variations of a simple ball bounce. They could, for example, race or bounce two balls against each other, spin the ball as it moves (this works nicely with an image of a ball downloaded from the Internet), or bounce a basketball into a goal. Even though this is a simple animation, students can have a lot of fun with it.
Encourage students to take their time creating their first slide since they will replicate it many times. In between slides, students should only move the ball only a little. Moving the ball a lot results in a jerky animation that seems more of a slideshow than an animation. Many students tend to create only a few slides, resulting in a brief animation. I require students to create at least 100 slides, which is still only about 10 seconds of animation.
By holding down the arrow key, students can watch their animation. They can also watch it by publishing their slideshow to the web and altering the timing of the transitions. This creates an animation that runs on its own. An additional benefit of publishing to the web is that it creates a slideshow presentation that students may share but that no one else can alter. Students can easily share this link by posting it in a Google Doc that is shared with everyone in the class.
You can show the following videos to the whole class or use as student resources.