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Monsters Inc.

three smiling teachersThrough a monster-of-a-project, district elementary and middle school students are recognizing the power of their own imaginations and the strength of their creative potential!

Teachers from Centennial Middle School and Machias Elementary recently collaborated on a project for their students. The project combined elementary literacy learning through imagination and creativity and the execution of hands-on career and technical education (CTE) skills through learning at the secondary level (see project skills below).

“I first got this idea at a family and consumer sciences conference this past winter,” said Jamie Mesman-Davis, Family and Consumer Science teacher at Centennial Middle School. “I was talking to a teacher from Colorado, and she said she was going to have her 7th graders make monsters.  I thought this was a fun idea but wanted to make it more applicable and wanted to expand it.”

Mesman-Davis developed the idea of having her two 7th grade classes team up with elementary students to create monsters on paper and then have her students create and sew monster stuffed animals to replicate the drawings. She contacted 1st grade teachers Becki Koehler and Lisa Ranniger at Machias Elementary and the three teachers executed the monster-of-a-plan into action.

Secondary students traveled to the elementary school to meet their new buddies. Students were divided into pairings of 7th grade family and consumer science students with 1st grade students. The pairs met to let their imaginations run free and discuss in detail and draw their monsters. The creativity expanded to include the monster’s name, character, personality and what their lives would look like. Students got to decide where their monsters live, what they like to do on the weekends, what they eat.

“The hardest part of drawing my monster was that I just had so many ideas!” said one of the 1st grade students.

After the brainstorming session, 1st graders took the next few weeks to apply story-writing skills to construct a comprehensive story about their monsters while the 7th graders got busy selecting fabric and materials, planning, and executing the creation of the monster stuffed animals to be as close to the drawings as possible so they could surprise their new elementary school buddies.

After the monster stories were written and illustrated and the stuffed animal monsters were constructed, the 1st graders met with their 7th grade buddies at Centennial Middle School for the big reveal. The reactions of the 1st grade students were priceless as they laid eyes on their huggable monsters and the 7th graders eagerly listened as their elementary friends read them their stories.

“I can’t believe how close all of the physical monster creations look like the drawings,” exclaimed 1st grade teacher Becki Koehler. “They did such an incredible job!”

To see photos from this event posted to the district’s Facebook page, please click here.

Skills learned though the project

1st grade:

  • Shapes (for bodies, head, arms, etc.)
  • Numbers (how many arms, legs, eyes, noses)
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Colors and textures
  • Imagination through producing character, personality, habitat and giving their monsters lives
  • Beginning, middle and end of the story
  • Verbs, nouns, and adjectives

7th grade:

  • Three main sewing stitches: running stitch, back stitch, and blanket stitch
  • How to sew on a button (or 10!)
  • How to stitch materials and accessories together
  • Fabric and materials selection
  • Material functions and purposes.
  • How to use a ruler and importance of ruler margins
  • Securely tying knots and thread tightness importance
  • Project planning and efficiency from start to finish