Stop-frame animation spurs creativity. Chris Drage explores two expert options, one a startling debut, the other a favourite aiming for homes

Zu3d screenWithout the splendour of stop-motion animation there wouldn’t have been any life in The Corpse Bride and no grand days out for Wallace & Gromit.

More than mere mechanics, this funky old art form is the miracle ingredient that can be used to challenge children to build, invent and explore and, as film director Tim Burton, who is a master of stop-motion says, “To give life to something that doesn’t have it is cool.”

Jack Kenny encounters a school's essential companion to exploring and making movies – 'Making Movies Make Sense'
Making Movies Make SenseThere is a powerful case to be made for teaching all students about video and film: collaborative working; encouraging logical thought; revealing the pervasive and persuasive power of technology; culturally rich; universal language; motivating. And it gives an understanding of the most powerful medium in most of our lives.  

Video technology is now available in most phones and every tablet: shouldn’t  we encourage students to go well beyond point and shoot? Six seconds on Vine is not enough. Creating intelligent, well structured video is extremely relevant to the lives of most students. Isn’t that the real literacy now?

Roger Frost learns about 'pencasting' with the Livescrive Echo Smartpen
Livescribe EchoThe Livescribe Echo Smartpen is a remarkable note-taking pen that a student would probably nag a parent to buy. When they struggle to keep up with a quick-firing, careless lecturer, this gadget is an answer. It is a pen to take paper notes, yet it is also a pen with a microphone that records what is being said.

At first I wondered whether any MP3 recorder would do the job as well. When I tried I had to review most of a talk to find the parts I needed. With the Livescribe Smartpen however, a word you write becomes a bookmark for that moment in the recording.

Windows tablets are finally here, and Ollie Bray is impressed by the Acer W510 from RM

Acer W510I have to admit to being one of the people who was looking forward to the release of Microsoft’s Windows 8 and I had an early release version running on an old laptop long before its official launch in October 2012. However, during my early testing I didn’t really ‘get’ Windows 8 and spent nearly all my time in desktop mode rather than using the 'metro', modern user interface.

I quickly concluded that one of the reasons for this might be because my laptop didn’t have a touchscreen and there is now no doubt about it in my mind – Windows 8 is designed for touch. And it gets a thumbs-up.

Why should the little ‘uns have all the fun? Hugh John muses on what the ‘big kids’ want for Christmas
In no particular chronological order... apples, oranges, Cabbage Patch Dolls, PlayStations, smart phones, chocolate coins, My Little Pony, Action Men, Brazil nuts, Barbie Dolls . . . . .they’ve all had their day in the pale winter sunshine of a Christmas morning. But how about us grown-ups?

Don’t we need some seasonal pampering and retail therapy as well? Here are four suggestions to entice you.