Monster Class

monster class photo

Even monsters need to learn their ABCs! These easy monster mask / hat combination costumes made it easy for terrifying young scholars to brainstorm ideas for their very own spooky alphabet books.

We read My Creature Teacher, written by Laura Leuck, and illustrated by Scott Nash (South China Printing Company, 2004). It’s your typical day at school…monster school that is! Hang up your spider sack, raise your paw in class, spell spooky words, and take the fire-breathing class pet out for a little fresh air. Teachers, no matter where they are, or how big their fangs are, all deserve our respect and gratitude.

You’ll need:

  • 1 plastic hat
  • Poster board
  • Mask decorating supplies (more on this below)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

The thing I like best about these masks is that they’re attached to a hat. This makes it easier to avoid the dreaded “mask sag.”  And let’s face it, hats are awesome, especially on werewolves!

werewolf maskWe offered 3 different types of hats, all purchased from Oriental Trading Company:

  1. Top hat ($7 a dozen, item #13743494)
  2. Fedora ($10 a dozen, item #31/243)
  3. Derby ($7.50 a dozen, item #25/562)

Cut a mask from poster board, then curl it a little and tape it to the inside front of a plastic hat. In the below image, you can see where we attached the Creature from the Black Lagoon mask to the plastic fedora:

creature from the black lagoon maskHowever! It’s best to decorate the mask before you attach it to the hat. Just make sure you leave some empty space at the top of the mask so it rests flat on the inside of the hat.

For decorating supplies, we offered curling ribbon, paper crinkle, crepe paper streamers, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, sparkle stems, craft ties, mesh tubing, iridescent cello, patterned paper, foam beads, pom-poms, dot stickers, goose quills, cone water cups, fabric flowers, and self-adhesive foam. And the Bling Bin of course.

The crepe paper streamers were INCREDIBLY popular for making braids down the sides of the masks. The more streamers, the thicker the braids. We secured the braid to the hat with tape, but we secured the bottom with staples.

skeleton maskOnce the transformation to monster students was complete, we gathered in the “classroom” to learn the monster alphabet. Basically, I created a template with space for illustrations (see mine below). I had the class recited the monster alphabet with me (even though it was hard not to giggle).

monster alphabetWe also printed and stapled together a set of alphabet letters for kids to take home a illustrate themselves. And yes, Z is for ZOMBIE!

z is for zombie

Projects, Projects, Everywhere

project bookIt’s the age-old question. What, oh what, am I going to do all of my kid’s artwork? The fridge door is full, the closets are stuffed, the space under the bed is crammed, and that cabinet in the entertainment center is approaching alarming.

This question is especially relevant for patrons who come to my Tiger Tales weekly story time. The program is year round and we always make a project. Sometimes a rather large and involved project. We definitely have regulars who attend every session, so…that’s one project a week over the span of a year. Give or take some holidays, sick days, and vacation days, that could be 40 projects to store in your abode.

No fear! I have a solution. I spotted it in FamilyFun magazine a few years ago and it works a treat. It’s an art project brag book.

brag bookBrag books are basically small, 4″ x 6″ photo albums. Typically, they hold 36 – 40 photos and retail for $6 – $8. I snagged this one from a discount bin at Bed, Bath, & Beyond for $1.99 (and then I shamelessly used a 20% off coupon on it).

The next time an art project has run its course in your home, simply snap a photo of it, print the photo, and add the photo to the brag book. That way, the artist still has a record of his/her work. A “pint-sized portfolio” if you will. You can even customize the cover!

customized coverYou could also include the child in the photo with his/her artwork and gain a sweet little timeline of the artist. Later, when he/she has their first show at the Met, you can bust it out at the opening reception whilst warbling “Sunrise, Sunset.”

Want to know more about the two projects pictured in the brag book that started this post? You’ll find the answers here and here!

School for Scoundrels

school for scoundrelsBehold the vilest collection of literary villains ever to gather in an esteemed place of learning! In other words, here is the cast from School for Scoundrels, a program we hosted at my library. Scroll to the bottom of the post for a complete listing of who’s who!

School for Scoundrels began as a tribute to the various villains who hounded our favorite heroes. Then I thought…what if all the villains belonged to an elite school? What if kids could attend the school and learn all sorts of nefarious, gross, and classically villainous things? A program was born!

In addition to mingling with the school’s famous “alumni,” kids practiced ciphers and codes, started a petri dish bacteria farm, produced a nasty “severed finger” gift box (and received instructions for more gross out activities to try at home), met Aragog the live tarantula (and made a dangling arachnid of their own!), learned how to detect a lie (and fool a polygraph machine with hot and cold packs), built a secret lair (suggestions: classic castle, wooden fort, tank, gingerbread cottage, innocuous bungalow), created an evil nickname (aided with our helpful hint sheet), swashbuckled with pirates, designed a wanted poster (with caricature assistance from Kemy Lin, a very talented student artist), and got into magical mischief with some select Harry Potter spells (the most laugh-inducing was Confundo).

They also practiced cape twirling and evil laughter. The cape twirling was my favorite, especially with names like “The Classic Reveal,” the “Side Arm Sweep,” the “Full-Extension Glide,” and the “Dramatic Egress.” When all the courses were complete, kids earned their very own School for Scoundrels diploma:

diplomaThis program wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous assistance of Princeton University student actors, who were recruited and coached by my student assistant, Sarah Paton. They were SO game to dress up and stay in character the entire time. But they also knew when to take it easy on the younger (or more timid) kids. For a program of this nature, that’s really important.

school for scoundrelsTop row, left to right: Professor Moriarty (Matt Trujil), Iago (Gregory Kufera), Wicked Witch of the West (Katie McGunagle), Wicked Stepmother from Cinderella (Kerry Brodie), Eye of Sauron (Gideon Grossman), Evil Queen from Snow White (Julie Chang), Slytherin Students (Kemy Lin, Vivian Qin), IT (Dana Sheridan). Bottom row, left to right: Long John Silver (Ambika Vora), Captain Hook (Sarah Paton). Well, Mrs. Silver and Mrs. Hook, respectively.

p.s. – You might notice the name tags. They said things like “Hello! My name is The Evil Queen.” Parents LOVED them!