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Laughing Moon (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.

Classroom Activities

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  • What does the yellow circle become?

  • What sounds can you hear?

  • What characters do the tangram shapes become?

  • What are the people doing?

  • What animals are created?

  • How do the shapes change from one character/object into another?

  • When do the shapes change from one character/object to another?


  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • Screen the film and ask children to write a text version of the story. Encourage them to use cause-and-effect language (e.g. “the moon becomes a ball then bounces towards the dog”).

  • Watch a few ‘transformation’ scenes from other films and compare with sequences from Laughing Moon. What techniques or special effects do other films use?


  • Research what a tangram is.

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

  • 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.

  • Think about how the use of sounds 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).

  • 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. Then ask children to put the linking word arrows between two images to create a new sequence.

  • In physical education or drama, ask children to explore sequences of movement, changing slowly from one form to another.


  • Create and cut out a giant tangram or small ones for each pupil (or pairs of children) and explore the different characters they can make. Focus on positional language (e.g. below, at the side, on top, beside, etc).

  • Get the class to 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”).

  • Get children to create voices and thoughts for the characters in the film.

  • 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 new story for these characters.

  • Create a tangram animation of your own using shapes and either photographing them or filming them with a video camera.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-007-C
Resource Rights Holder Kiyoshi Nishimoto
Project Ref STST1-04
References Storyboard stills sheet
Year of Production 2000
Genre Abstract, Folk Lore
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Literacy and English, Numeracy, Social studies, Religious and moral education, Sciences, Technologies, Mathematics, Modern Languages
Who Kiyoshi Nishimoto (Filmmaker, Animator)
Country of Origin Japan
Medium / Content 2D Animation, Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Origami, Symbolism, Shape, Animism
Clip Length 06:00