Monsters make a good metaphor for fear. Small children are sometimes sincerely scared of monsters, but older students can relate to the idea of vanquishing the monsters in their lives. Approaching monsters, feeling the fear, deciding whether it’s wise to continue, and showing courage or prudence — these are all good life skills to practice.
Monsters also have some good literature and science connections — see lesson plans for middle and high school below.
A monster classroom theme is fun and surprising — and this year, it’s also easy, because Scholastic has a bunch of classroom decoratives with this theme:
- Monsters Back to School Bulletin Board
- Monsters Welcome Chart
- Monsters Welcome Bulletin Board
- Monsters at Work Bulletin Board
Here’s our DIY monster bulletin board idea:
Melissa and Doug’s Monster Bowling Game is a very good match for the Scholastic decoratives, and good for hand-eye coordination. Another great option for a plush for this theme is Gund Cookie Monster , since Cookie Monster is the most loveable monster around. David Kirk’s Stacking Mongo Monster is a building toy for preschool and an art object, too.
Get some monsters onto your classroom book table. We’re starting the list with preschool and younger elementary books, and moving up to middle school and high school choices:
- Go Away, Big Green Monster! deals with kids’ fears of monsters in an innovative way; this will be a favorite in your classroom library.
- Glad Monster, Sad Monster looks at emotions. Ed Emberley is the author of both this book and the first one on the list; his monsters are goofy and fun, not scary.
- Bye-Bye, Big Bad Bullybug! is another in Emberley’s die-cut monster series. This one helps kids cope with bullies.
- The Monster at the End of this Book stars Grover from Sesame Street. This book builds up suspense with the threat of a monster at the end of the book, of whom Grover is terrified. Grover begs the reader not to turn the pages because he is “so scared!” At the end of the book, it turns out that Grover himself is the monster at the end of the book. I love the way this book lets kids play with fear and bravery.
- No More Monsters for Me! is a bracing story by Peggy Parish, author of the Amelia Bedelia books.
- There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Meyer
- My Monster Mama Loves Me So
- Where the Wild Things Are is Maurice Sendak’s classic story about those times when we’re like monsters ourselves.
- Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is a classic of literature and of monsters. Check out our Frankenstein lesson plans for everything from a Google Earth tour to science and art connections.
- Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll And Mr. Hyde follows a mild-mannered man who discovers that he can turn himself into a monster.
- We’re not saying that Twilight is a classic novel, but your reluctant readers might be willing to read it for fashion’s sake.
- ReadWriteThink has a phonics-focused lesson plan for Ed Emberley’s Go Away, Big Green Monster!
- Monster Exchange has a lesson plan for There’s a Nightmare in My Closet in which students draw a monster, describe it to a partner, and attempt to draw their partner’s monster from the description. This is a great way to practice clear oral communication.
- Consider book-focused lesson plans for Where the Wild Things Are.
- Penguin has a thorough PDF lesson plan for Doctor Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.
- Stevenson uses lots of adjectives — this makes a great study of antonyms and synonyms. Collect all the adjectives you can in a Pocket Chart and sort them into groups.
- A lesson plan on horror stories looks at how knowing the backstory of a novel enriches our understanding of it, and works on research and reading skills as well.
- Artsedge has a lesson on monsters using Beowulf.
- Monsters make a good metaphor for germs. Germs by Judy Oetting is a good book for emergent readers (just 79 words) that takes this approach with stylish illustrations and a focus on handwashing. The Magic School Bus: The World of Germs is a hands-on science kit for elementary students.
- Kevin Baker has a five senses lesson plan for his Brave Little Monster.
- Make a Cornstarch Monster in your classroom! That’s a non-Newtonian fluid responding to vibrations. Garage Science explains the science. (Cornstarch in the U.S. = cornflour in Britain.)
- Monsters — which is to say, creatures outside of the natural order — have been reported with complete sincerity in the past by travelers. Before photography, drawings based on people’s memories and stories that were passed around were the only evidence. Check out some medieval and Renaissance monsters. Then have students draw an armadillo, platypus, or other unusual creature from their memory or their best understanding of what they’ve heard about the animal. Can they see how stories of monsters could arise?
- Challenge students to study famous monsters such as the Coelacanth, Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness monster. The coelacanth is a real fish, but it certainly surprised the people who found it in 1938, when it had been thought to be extinct for 65 million years. Have students write reports on the monsters they study, including their conclusions on the reality of the creatures.
- Learn more about cyrptozoology — the study of monsters — at the Cryptid Zoo.
- Help students learn to read critically. Cryptozoology has a nice collection of links to articles about monsters of various kinds. Read some as a class and discuss the quality of the support and how you can tell whether a source is trustworthy or not. Then have students read more on their own or in small groups, sorting them into reliable and unreliable sources. Have students present one of each, explaining why they believe that one is reliable and the other is not.
Have a monstrous time with your monster unit — and check out our Vampire Lesson Plans, too!