Mitosis Claymation Videos

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SWBAT demonstrate their understanding of the phases of mitosis by critically evaluating changes in each phase to create a claymation video.

Big Idea

Create lasting knowledge of mitosis when students create their own mitosis claymation videos.

The Need for the Lesson

Middle school students learn about cell replication and genetic reproduction. While we are not asking students to memorize the phases of cell division, we do want students to understand the process.

Making cells from clay and recreating the cell division process helps students clearly understand the mitosis is the process by which cells divide to create two identical daughter cells. This is asexual reproduction.

Later students will learn meiosis, having a deep understanding of mitosis will help students make the distinction between asexual and sexual cell division.

Investigation Preparation & Summary

5 minutes

In this lesson students will be digging deeply into understanding the first part of this standard - (MS-LS3-2 Develop and use a model to describe why asexual reproduction results in offspring with identical genetic information and sexual reproduction results in offspring with genetic variation.) The model of asexual reproduction is the claymation videos of cell division - mitosis. In the process of creating the videos students can clearly observe that the DNA is copied exactly when the cell divides which will result in genetically identical information being passed from one to the daughter cells. Students are developing mastery of their understanding of cell divisions by creating models represent changing phenomena. (SP2 - Developing and Using Models)

Clay and cameras are used in this lesson. I allow students to use the "camera in their pocket" (phone) to take photos as well.

A complete materials list is available in the resource section.

Students in Action

225 minutes

Students in Action

Today we begin the process of making claymation videos of Mitosis. 

To inspire my students, I share this stop motion animation featuring a Robot Elephant created in a biology notebook.

For reference, we use a page from the student textbook showing a colorful image of the mitosis process. There is one image per phase beginning with interphase, moving to prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase and cytokinesis. 

In order to create a video that show the cell division process in action, we need to imagine what small steps occur between each phase. We want the claymation video to show movement over time. To do that it would be best to create 10 steps between each phase. You should have no less than 50 images in you video.

We have a few cameras to share. You may also use your phones as long as you have a way to extract pictures and place them on your computer.

You may select clay as follows:

  • One color the size of a ping-pong ball for your cytoplasm
  • One color the size of a shooter marble for your nucleus
  • Five additional colors the size of a regular marble for your chromosomes, spindle fibers, chromatids, chromatin and centrioles


Setup a location to take your photos. We want the photos to be as consistent in location as possible.

  • Use the same location each day
  • Keep the camera in the same location for each photo taken
  • Make note of the lighting to be sure it is the same each day
  • Decide whether or not to use the flash - which ever you decide, it should be the same each day


This group of future engineers created a stand for the camera


This group used a ruler for each shot

Create a folder on your computer to store the photos. At the end of each day store a copy of the folder in you Google Drive. If you are working with a partner, be sure to share the folder. You will be taking 50 or more photos after you painstakingly manipulate your claymation. We do not want to risk loosing your hard work.

We will be using Microsoft Movie Maker to create our animated film.

This short video explains how to use the basic functions of Movie Maker.


Below you will see three different approaches to the assignment. 


Sample Student Mitosis Videos



Connecting the Learning

5 minutes

After students have submitted their videos, I ask a few groups to share what they created.

Some students have added interesting effects or transitions at the beginning or ending of their video. They give a short how to demonstration.

It is fascinating to see the different approaches to their videos. Students enjoy seeing that there is no one right answer in the creation of the mitosis videos.