Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli

Timeframe: 3 hours, summer camp setting
Grade Level: K-4
Materials: pencils, 11x14 white tagboard, 9x12 white tagboard, 11x14 blue construction paper, black permanent markers, condensed liquid watercolors, crayons, scrap construction paper (especially black, yellow, white), crayons, old magazines, newspapers, salt, glue, scissors, cotton balls

This would be a GREAT activity for a regular classroom teacher. It lends itself easily to a writing activity. After creating their own monster, students could write about what their monster doesn't do! The possibilities are endless!

This project is based on a book by Barbara Jean Hicks entitled, Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli. I came across this book, as well as a lesson plan for the art project at Deep Space Sparkle. Deep Space Sparkle is a wonderful site for teachers, and I highly recommend it. However, I usually find that some things have to be tweaked in order to meet the needs of my students. So, that is what you will find here. This is how I implemented this plan for summer camp. At this camp, I had one 4 year old, two 5 year olds (who will enter kindergarten this fall), a 6 year old (who will be in first grade in the fall), and three students who were third grade and above. Thus, there was a wide range of abilities at this camp. This project worked well for that unique mixture of students and was easily adaptable for each one's ability level.

I started by reading the book to the students. We stopped and discussed as we read. The ending of the book is great for addressing comprehension skills, especially with younger students because they have to grasp an abstract concept by looking at the pictures. 

Then the students drew a monster on their 9x12 sheet of white tagboard. We discussed how monsters can look anyway that they imagine. They can have twelve arms and 1 1/2 eyes if desired. This was truly the most fun part of the project. After they were finished drawing, they traced over their pencil marks with a black permanent marker.  They used liquid watercolors to paint the monster and sprinkled salt over it while it was wet to create a texture. 

After they cut it out, they used the construction paper scraps to create eyes, teeth, horns, and even shadows. I allowed them to add whatever details they felt their monster needed only after discussing it with me first. If a student explains to me why they want to do something, I almost never tell them that they can't do it. However, I like for them to discuss it with me first when they want to do something that I haven't given specific instructions for. The dialogue is important for their academic development, and it is a great way for me to informally assess their learning.

They used the 11x14 white tagboard to create the background scene for their monster. I had originally envisioned the monsters in a city for this project, and some of the students did want their monster in the city. However, after reading the book, their little brains went wild with possibilities for places their monsters could be. They also used black permanent markers to trace over the pencil marks on their background scene. They used crayons to add details and then painted over everything with liquid watercolors to create a resist effect. 

After finishing their background scene, each student determined whether or not their scene needed to be mounted on construction paper. Some felt their work did not need to be cut out and mounted (the picnic scene and the fountain above). Others wanted a blue sky, so they glued their scene to blue construction paper. They used white crayons to draw clouds. Another student wanted his monster to be roaming around the city at night, so he used black construction paper. He also used silver, yellow, and white crayons to create stars (below).

Below is an example of how a student used magazine pages to add detail to her city scene. She tore a strip of magazine pages and painted it green with liquid watercolors to make grass. The newspaper can be used in this way as well.

The final step was to glue cotton balls behind the monsters and then to glue them on top of the background scenes. The cotton balls added depth to the work. 

This was a lot of fun and very successful and engaging for the students. 
Let's face it! Kids love friendly monsters!!!