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Laughing Moon — Kiyoshi Nishimoto, 2000

A yellow circle (the ‘laughing moon’) pops out of a black square, which breaks into several shapes of a puzzle. The shapes move and combine to create characters, vehicles and objects. Although there is no clear narrative as such, this cut-out animation has a fable-like quality. All the creations attempt to possess the moon, but it has a nature of its own and somehow none quite manage to get the better of it. A fabulous stimulus for creating your own cut-out animation.

Use our video tutorial on 'Laughing Moon' to help you get started: Lesson example - Laughing Moon.

Classroom Activities

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  • Sound On/Vision Off. Listen to all or some of the soundtrack without the images. List all the sounds that can be heard. Get pupils to take it in turns to mine/act out who or what they think is making the sound.
  • Screen the film and freeze frame on different parts of the story. Get pupils to write words/phrases that describe the movement going on (e.g. spinning, jumping, etc).
  • Watch the film, looking out for people or animals. What were they doing? Make a list.


  • Find other film sequences that involve things moving (e.g. a car starting and moving off, a train racing along a track, a skateboard travelling, a bird screeching). Listen to how the sound and action are used together. When are they in sync? When are they not in sync? What difference does it make?
  • Watch a few ‘transformation’ scenes from other films and compare with sequences from 'Laughing Moon'. What techniques or special effects do other films use?
  • Think about how the use of sound in 'Laughing Moon' adds humour. Are the images funny on their own or is it the combination of sound and image? Watch some cartoons that use sound effects to create humour (e.g. Tom and Jerry).



  • Write a text version of the story using cause-and-effect language (e.g. “the moon becomes a ball then bounces towards the dog”).
  • Make a class book of a series of adventures based on the film: “What Happened to Laughing Moon Next”.
  • Take examples of the characters in the film and create new situations for them or put them in the same scene. For example: what would happen if the dog ran up to the two people playing football? Write and draw the story for these characters.
  • Screen the film and ask your pupils to identify a sequence that shows change (e.g. the dog changing into a dinosaur). Discuss ‘linking’ phrases and connective words. Write these on arrow cards. Ask pupils to put the linking word arrows between two images to create a new sequence.


  • Investigate how sound changes the story: select a sequence from the film and ask your pupils to create their own sounds for the actions (with objects or instruments). Now replay the sequence with the class sound effects.
  • Experiment with synchronising sounds to the image. Explore what difference it makes if the sound happens before or after the action.
  • Create a tangram animation of your own using shapes and either photographing them or filming them with a video camera.


  • The animation is set against a plain white background. Invent settings for each of the scenes and draw the settings on the storyboard stills sheet.


  • Create and cut out a giant tangram or small ones for each pupil and explore the different characters they can make. Focus on positional language (e.g. below, at the side, on top, beside, etc).
  • Use a variety of flat shapes to create new characters. Create instructions so someone else can replicate it (e.g. “put the circle on top of the square”).


  • Create voices and thoughts for the characters in the film.
  • Explore sequences of movement, changing slowly from one form to another.


  • Research what a tangram is.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-007-C
Resource Rights Holder Kiyoshi Nishimoto
Project Ref STST1-04
Year of Production 2000
Genre Abstract, Animation
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Modern Languages, Literacy and English, Maths, Religious and Moral Education, Social Studies, Technologies
Director Kiyoshi Nishimoto
Country of Origin Japan
Medium / Content 2D Animation, Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Feelings, Culture / Society, Creative Expression
Clip Length 06:00
Clip Length 06:00
Age Group P1-P4, P5-P7, S1-S3, S4-S6