Elementary School Program - Monsterology
by Megan Clark
Books to Share
Jabberwocky by Joel Stewart
Luck of the Loch Ness Monster by Alice Weaver Flaherty
Monster Museum by Marilyn Singer
Mythical Creatures: A Classical Bestiary by Lynn Curlee
Strong Stuff: Herakles and His Labors by John Harris
Books to Show or Booktalk
Behold…the Dragons! by Gail Gibbons
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist: Flight of the Phoenix by R.L. Lafevers
The One-Eyed Giant by Mary Pope Osborne
A Practical Guide to Monsters by Nina Hess
We’re Going on a Monster Hunt
Create several samples of the monster book craft explained in this chapter. Blow up images of dinosaur tracks and have them cross the width of bulletin board towards the monster books.
Copy the nametag provided at the end of this web page. Clipart copyright © 2010 by the University of South Florida, Florida Educational Technology Clearinghouse.
Create a monster museum by displaying items from different monsters. Examples could include a feather from a phoenix, the fur of a griffin, the eye of a Cyclopes, the hoof print of a centaur, etc.
Rhymes and Poetry
(By Lewis Carroll. As an extension activity, pass out a piece of paper to each child. Have them fold the paper into fourths and then reopen the paper. Choose four words from Carroll’s nonsensical poem and have the kids draw what they think the word means or looks like.)
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead and with its head
He went galumphing back.
‘And has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
He chortled in his joy.
Jabberwocky Drawing Contest
Have children submit their original drawings of their visual interpretation of the Jabberwocky monster. Distribute a copy of Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky with an entry sheet that lists the prizes for each age group. Recruit judges from the community to judge the entries.
Perform “Chapter 1: I Accidentally Vaporize my Pre-Algebra teacher” adapted by Mary G. Milligan from Rick Riordan’s book The Lightning Thief, available from The Online World of Rick Riordan.
Stories to Tell
The Slaying of Medusa (Adapted from Greek mythology by Megan Clark)
Prop Suggestions: plastic sword, round mirror, medusa mask with plastic snakes.
Photo and artwork by Megan Clark
The most terrifying monsters in Greek mythology were the Gorgons. Gorgons were monsters who looked like females except for their hair. Instead of strands of human hair Gorgons had a mass of live, writhing snakes on their heads. They were so terrifying that anyone that looked at them was immediately turned into a stone.
In the stories of Greek mythology there were only three Gorgons, and the most famous one of all was named Medusa. Medusa was once a beautiful mortal woman who was transformed into a Gorgon as punishment for angering a Greek goddess. Enraged at the loss of her beauty, Medusa took savage pleasure in turning men, women, and children into stone statues.
Many brave heroes lost their lives trying to slay Medusa. Despite their bravery and their great fighting skills, all who attempted to face her were killed. Many decided that it was impossible to slay Medusa. After all, how can you fight a monster with your eyes closed?
For many years Medusa strode up and down the ancient world spreading terror where ever she went. As the Gorgon passed over land and water she left behind her the lifeless statues of her victims. It was said that Medusa was as deaf and dumb to human suffering as the statues she created, as all of her victim’s cries for mercy were silenced by stone.
Drunk on her great power, Medusa reveled in the knowledge that all mortal beings were forced to flee from her presence or pay the price with their lives. She was convinced that none could withstand her fury and that no puny human could ever injure her.
But on the island of Seriphos there lived a young boy named Perseus. Unlike other heroes, Perseus had a quickness of mind that matched, if not exceeded, the quickness of his feet. As the boy grew he worked hard not only on obtaining great physical strength and advanced fighting skills, but also on cultivating his keen and clever mind.
When Perseus was still a young man, the king of Seriphos threatened to harm his mother if Perseus did not bring him the head of Medusa as payment. As Perseus listened to the king’s demand, he thought of all the dreadful stories he had heard about Medusa, as well as the assertions of brave men that the Gorgon was impossible to defeat. The young man’s knees quaked at the thought of coming face to face with Medusa. But the thought of his mother’s suffering was even more terrible than the thought of facing a monster. So with courage born from desperation, Perseus set out to find the Gorgon.
Medusaby Caravaggio (1597)
Perseus soon discovered that Medusa lived on a small island, and in order to reach it he would have to travel for many months by boat. Perseus was terribly afraid that if he was gone for too long his mother would suffer at the hands of the king. However, as fortune would have it, the Greek god Hermes generously lent Perseus his own pair of magical, winged sandals. And once Perseus put on the shoes of the messenger god, he was able to fly over the ocean at tremendous speed, straight towards the island where Medusa and the other Gorgons slept.
When Perseus reached the island, he found that Medusa was deep in slumber. While this was to his advantage, he knew that he still had to find a way to get close to the Gorgon without looking at her. For even in sleep Medusa had the power to turn him into stone.
But being a clever young man, it took him only a few moments to come up with a plan. Taking his bronze shield, Perseus carefully tilted it to one side until he could see Medusa’s reflection in its brightly polished surface. With his shield in one hand and his sword in the other, he crept up on the snoozing Gorgon, making sure to look only at Medusa’s reflection and not at the monster herself. At last he was so close Perseus could have reached out and touched the prickly, dragon-like scales on her neck.
Then, without warning Perseus swung his blade with incredible speed and cut off the Gorgon’s terrible, snake-like head. He wiped his sword clean of the black blood of the Gorgon, and then carefully wrapped Medusa’s head in a long bolt of cloth.
Putting on the magical winged sandals once more he flew towards his homeland, and upon reaching it, marched straight into the king’s palace. The king had been celebrating Perseus’ death with a feast, so it was with great surprise and horror that he saw Perseus entering his palace very much alive. As Perseus drew close to the king he cried aloud with a great voice, “King! Look here! I give you your requested head!” And with that he held up the terrible head of Medusa. The eyes of the dead snakes flew open and even in death they froze the king and his court into statues of stone. Then Perseus rewrapped the gruesome head, opened his own eyes, and went home to his family.
- Two sheets of 8.5” x 11” cardstock or poster board
- Blank paper
- Black felt
- Animal print paper
- Plastic spiders and similar items (Spooky Halloween items work well)
- Wiggly eyes of various sizes
- Black pipe cleaners cut into 4-inch pieces
Photo and artwork by Megan Clark
Give the children the supplies listed above and let them create their monster books following these instructions. Cover one sheet of cardstock with black felt. Decorate the covers of the monster book with spooky items. Use a three-hole punch to punch holes in both sheets of cardstock. Put blank paper inside the book. Use the pipe cleaners to assemble the book of monsters.
Games and Activities
We’re Going on a Monster Hunt
(By Megan Clark)
Rumor has it that hoards of monsters has escaped from the pages of your library’s books and are currently living inside the library. Divide the monsterologists into teams. Their goal is to locate the evidence that the monsters have left behind. To do this, they must carefully read each clue card and decide where in the library the monster is likely to have been. Once they find the evidence, they must answer the question on the clue card and record it in their monster book through drawings or words. For an extra bonus, provide a small prize for the team of monsterologists that finishes first.
Prior to the program, print enlarged copies of the Monsterologist Clue Cards available at the end of this web page. Each team of monsterologists should have one complete set of clues.
Monster evidence can be bought or created with inexpensive materials from dollar or craft stores. The following is a list of monster evidence suggestions and hiding spots.
Monster Evidence Hiding Spot
Phoenix - Red, orange, yellow Craft feathers - Bird Books
Cyclops - One large wiggly eye - Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
Basilisk - Snake-like textured felt - J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series
Centaur - Create a simple arrow using a wooden dowel, triangular rock, toothpicks, and rubber bands - Astronomy books
Cerberus - Blow up a dog’s paw print - Dog books
Medusa - 3D gold mask with plastic snakes attached - Snake books
Minotaur - Cut a Styrofoam wreath in half, and whittle into a horn shape using sharp scissors - Puzzle or maze books
Werewolf - Cut a pair of white plastic vampire teeth into individual teeth and place in a small clear bottle - Wolf books
Sphinx - Write out the riddle the Sphinx gave Oedipus on a brown paper bag - Ancient Egypt books
Dragon - Plastic gold coins - Dragon books
Lenny’s Alice in Wonderland Site - Read several explanations of the meanings of the words in Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem on this website.
Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll - This beloved sequel to the classic children’s book Alice in Wonderland contains the full text of the Jabberwocky poem.
The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki - key stories about the Greek gods and goddesses are told in this nonfiction title with brevity and clarity.
Florida’s Educational Technology Clearinghouse Clip Art - A large collection of clipart from old books is available for educational purposes.
Download this PDF file of the Monsterologist Nametag, cut out the image, and use it as a nametag. An example of the nametags is shown below.
Monsterologist Clue Cards
Download this PDF file of the Monsterologist Clue Cards, cut out the cards, and use them for the We're Going on a Monster Hunt game. An example of what the cards look like is shown below.