Monster Book, by Alice Hoogstad (Lemniscaat, 2014)

What the book’s about

It starts with one girl and a piece of sidewalk chalk. She draws a red heart on a string, introducing a bright bit of color to her black-and-white neighborhood. Next, she draws a friendly-looking monster who comes to life, bounding down the narrow street. The girl draws more colorful monsters who set to work coloring the entire village. While these activities make some of the neighbors cross, other children join in the fun. Then they turn on the hose and start to wash everything clean just as it begins to rain. Order is restored and the neighborhood is black and white once more, but wait — look in the corner! Are those children and monsters at it again?

Three Activities for kids pre-kindergarten through 4th grade, by Jessica Young

Activity 1: Creature Features

Prekindergarten – 4th grade

Kids create their own monsters after brainstorming various “creature features.”

Supplies

  • Paper
  • Pencils/colored pencils/crayons/markers

Activity

After reading Monster Book, divide kids into small groups and have them brainstorm a list of “creature features” that monsters might have. Challenge them to come up with as many features as they can. These might include characteristics of real animals or mythological animals: fins, tentacles, horns, tusks, fur, feathers, claws, wings, nostrils, tails, scales, etc. Then have them share their list of features with the larger group. Younger kids can brainstorm as a large group, with the teacher or group leader directing the discussion.

Follow up the large group discussion by having the kids draw and name their own monsters, incorporating a variety of “creature features” in an interesting way. Suggest that monsters can have various amounts of features — like ten eyes — and that certain features may help them survive and thrive in their environments.

Older kids can follow this up by writing a paragraph about their monsters, including information on habitat and food, life cycle, etc.

When the new monsters are drawn and their environments described, display all monsters side by side to create a bestiary exhibit.

Activity 2: Pass-around Monster Drawings

1st – 4th grade

Kids make monster drawings collaboratively, with each child adding to the other kids’ monsters.

Supplies

  • Paper
  • Pencils/colored pencils/crayons/markers

Activity

After reading Monster Book, kids each hold a paper vertically and fold it in half, then fold it in half again the same way. (When they unfold their papers, there should be four horizontal folds going across them.)

Divide kids into groups of four and have each child draw the head of a real animal or mythological monster on the top section of their papers. When they’re done, have them draw connecting lines over the fold onto the top of the next section, then fold their drawn section back so it’s hidden from view. (The connecting lines will show the next child where to begin the next part of the monster.) Kids then pass their papers clockwise to the next person in the group. You can set a 2-5-minute time limit before each “pass.”

The second monster maker to draw on another group member’s 3/4 sheet uses the section now begun with the dotted lines, but without peeking at the hidden head, and adds the top of the body/shoulders/arms (if they want their creature to have them) on the next blank section. Again, the artist folds back and hides what’s been drawn, leaving connecting marks for the third person to start drawing the torso. At this point, the third person will only see the bottom half of the paper, as the top half has been drawn on and folded under.

Repeat the process, with the third child drawing the torso/midsection of the monster’s body. Then have the fourth child draw the bottom of the body/legs/tail.

The kids then pass the papers back to their original owners (whoever who drew the monsters’ heads). Each “head” artist unfolds the monster and names it.

Activity 3: Monster Masks

Pre-kindergarten – 4th grade

Kids create unique monster masks that can be worn or displayed, thinking about monster features and their shapes.

Supplies

  • Heavy construction paper/cardstock/paper plates
  • Assorted fancy papers (foil paper, origami paper, wrapping papers, etc.), which can be pre-cut into shapes if desired
  • Pencils/colored pencils/crayons/markers
  • Scissors
  • White glue
  • Feathers
  • Colored shape stickers (available in paper or foam)
  • Pre-cut fun fur or fleece shapes
  • Yarn, ribbon, buttons, found objects, etc.

Activity

After reading Monster Book and looking at picture of masks from around the world, kids come up with as many monster features as they can. These might include characteristics of real animals or mythological animals: fins, tentacles, horns, tusks, fur, feathers, claws, wings, nostrils, tails, scales, etc.

Have kids draw a large head shape on construction paper or cardstock, or use paper plates as the mask base if cutting can’t be done. Kids can then draw and cut out shapes for monster features to glue onto the monster’s head. (You can pre-draw or pre-cut head shapes and/or other “feature” shapes (horns, noses, mouths, eyebrows, fins, ears, eyes, etc.) for children unable to produce their own pieces in the activity’s setting).

When they’re finished, have children name their monsters and hold up their masks to take a group picture!

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