The iPad+MilkCrate idea originated in working with my wife’s English class on their iBooks Author Project.  We had a need for something cheap, fast, and easy that the kids could use to either record a paper slide presentation and/or do stop-motion paper animation. I’m aware that there are plenty of digital ways of doing this, but kids seem to like having choices. Combining analog with digital media can produce some very novel results that preserve the student’s voice and personality in the project. So in brainstorming together, the iPad+MilkCrate idea was born. The cool thing is that it didn’t even involve duct tape.
iPad + Milk Crate = Document Camera edtech edtechteacher
We used the following materials:

  • milk crate
  • black felt
  • foam board
  • zippy ties
  • glue
  • exacto knife
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • 2 adhesive LED lights from hardware store
cut out two pieces of foam board edtech edtechteacherTurn the milk crate on it’s side so that the opening faces toward you. The new “bottom” of the crate is where you will mount your stage. The iPad is simply laid on top of the crate with the camera looking through the grates. You can position it so they are never seen.
carefully measure and cut edtech edtechteacherWe created our stage with pieces of foam board covered in black felt. Measure 1 piece of foam board to cover one of the internal sides of the milk crate as shown. Ours measured just under 12 inches. Next cut a piece with the same width, but half as long to be what we called front stage. It is important that these be separate pieces so that everything can fold up neatly when not in use.
edtech edtechteacher edtechchris.comcut holes for the zippy ties edtech edtechteacherFasten the foam board to the milk crate by cutting holes with an exact knife and then using zippy ties through the holes and around the grates of the milk crate as shown. We used 4 small zippy ties and then scooted the head around so that it was not protruding from the bottom much.
To help the stage lay flat, raise the “front stage” piece by gluing 2 additional strips of foam board to compensate for the thickness of the milk carton.

measure felt edtech edtechteacher edtechchris.comcompensate for the thickness of the crate edtech edtechteacher Next, measure and cut your felt liner so that it covers the width, but leave some excess in the length to wrap under the front stage.

edtech edtechteacher

Apply an ample amount of glue evenly over the foam board out to the edges. Firmly press the felt liner on to the foam board and position it to cover and extend out the front of the stage area. After it dries, you will flip the front stage up and tuck the rest of the felt under and glue it down.

edtech edtechteacher edtechchris.comedtech edtechteacher

The finished product should lay flat and have a continuous piece of felt from the back to the front. I ironed the wrinkles out of the felt before gluing down.

You will need a light source inside of the box, especially if you turn the room lights down to project the “document camera” via the iPad.

I purchased 2 adhesive LED lights from the local hardware store for about 5 bucks each. The stick really well and the LEDs are quite bright.

lights edtech edtechteacher

light fasteners edtech edtechteacher

stick it edtech edtechteacher

The lights came with velcro adhesive which sticks very well to the milk crate. You will want to experiment with the position of th lights for your situation. Later I hung an average night light in the back using * ahem * bailing wire.

The finished product looks pretty good and works great. We were able to use a stop motion app with the milk crate to do some paper craft animation similar to South Park or Monty Python. It was very easy to do and did not take much time.

ipad document camera milk crate edtech edtechteacher

ipad document camera milk crate edtech edtechteacher
ipad document camera milk crate edtech edtechteacher edtechchris.comEverything packs up neatly into the milk crate when you are finished for easy storage.

In this last picture, you can see how we used this set up with the Stop Motion app to animate William Shakespeare for the class projects.

iPad + MilkCrate being used for Stop Motion paper animation ipad document camera milk crate edtech edtechteacher
Using the Milk Crate as a stage for stop motion paper animation.

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IT Director in Austin TX • Husband & Father • Apple and Linux aficionado • Passionate about connecting w/ & supporting educators to improve teaching and learning.

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