Monster Theme Fun
Maybe you could tell by the title, but we are using monsters to help teach our 2-year-old about diversity, emotional intelligence and of course, courage and bravery.
Using Monsters to Teach Diversity
Craft Foam Monster Feet (template)
I put together these little monster feet using this template from Make and Takes (I did have to alter it for her little feet to make it smaller). She put one of the monster feet on and I asked her to compare it to her ‘people’ feet, as she said.
This was really just a fun little activity to get her into the monster mood, so to speak. It worked wonderfully! More importantly, we talked about how appearances can make something scary but that really, underneath, it’s something familiar.
I used craft foam and they held up. They are still going strong and have even survived a trip to the grocery store. She wore them nearly all day and had a lot of fun stomping around singing, “stomping in my monster feet” over and over.
The Best Books about Monsters
We have a neat book that we’ve read at least 100 times: Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin (partner link). Each of the simply drawn, toddler and preschool age-appropriate monsters describes their favorite primary color and they all work together to make sure other monsters get their favorite color through color mixing. Other than the color mixing, it is a book with a few other themes: helping others, working as a team, taking turns and diversity.
To accompany this book, I drew out two identical monsters on a large piece of activity paper. I folded it in half and asked Elise what features the monster had and asked her to color it.
Then, I flipped over the paper and asked her to describe what features she saw on this monster. She then colored the second monster. When finished, I opened up the paper and she talked about how they looked the same, but how the colors she used made them different.
Another great book to incorporate is Some Monsters Are Differentby David Milgrim (partner link). We’ve enjoyed it already and it inspired the two plush monsters I created for Elise. If you’d like to read about them, click on their pictures below.
Using Monsters to Teach Emotions and Emotional Intelligence
Elise is very emotive nowadays. She’s 2-years-old, so I guess that’s a given, right?
The research I’ve done shows that although they are having feelings like surprised, sorry, and frustrated, toddlers do not understand how to communicate their emotions. Jeff and I thought this kind of exercise could help her learn to identify and verbalize her emotions.
Monster Emotion Cards (Free Printable)
During one of my Pinterest time-wasting sessions, I stumbled across this free printable of emotion cards from Professor Poppins. They are simple enough that Elise can decipher between them and fun enough that she didn’t bore of them quickly.
We talked through each one and the emotion she best identified with was frustrated. Without being prompted, she said, “Is frustrated when I want Sidney’s toy but can’t take it ‘cuz I get in trouble?”
Below she is acting out her favorite card: surprised!
Quick Monster Finger Puppets and Monster Hand Puppets
I also whipped up some felt puppets to reinforce our learning with some role play. It’s very easy for kids to associate certain “bad” emotions with puppets instead of themselves.
I didn’t use a template for the hand puppet but found this one for you in case you’d like to check out how easily they take shape.
After the big fella was done, I used the scraps to create two finger puppets. I used my sewing machine for everything except the faces, but because it’s felt, you could hand stitch these no problem (or use this glue).
Courage, Bravery, and the Choice to Stay Afraid
Teaching children courage, bravery and how to overcome fear is easy using monsters. It just makes sense.
Own your fears. Obviously, this is a bit of an advanced concept to work into a 2 year old2-year-old’s she learned the word “scared” somewhere and has been using it.
We want to make sure she knows there are alternatives to being scared and feeling powerless.
Fun Monster Wreath
This monster wreath was super easy to put together and was a very quick craft. Each Halloween, this is hanging on one of the doors!
Monster Books to Reinforce Bravery, Courage, and Choice
We chose a familiar book for her: Where the Wild Things Areby Maurice Sendak. Discussions were brief, but centered around Max’s desire for adventure and his courage with the wild things.
We used these Where the Wild Things Are puppets to act out some scenes and solidify the concept. You can read more about some fun we had with this classic story, and find your own free printable for the puppets there.
Monster Food, Songs, Crafts, and More Monster Fun!
Sweet Monster Petit Fours
These ridiculously easy mini monster cakes were so much fun. We will definitely make them again!
Wow, this was such a bit hit! It took a minute to put together but was the talk of the neighborhood. I used black olives for the eyes and pickles for horns. I suggested carrot sticks for the hair but was vetoed.
I cannot tell you how much Elise enjoyed helping to make her monster sandwich. When Jeff asked about her day, it was the first thing she mentioned.
Happy Monster Card Match Game (Free Printable)
We also used the monster theme learn and play session to have more fun! We played match using the Happy Monster cards, a free printable from 1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 1.
Elise really enjoyed this and even suggested we make a rainbow monster garland!
A Fun Monster Song
I’ll end this bit of fun with a song we sang today – a take on “Five Little Monkeys.” You can find this, and so many other great songs, at Preschool Education.com.
Five Little Monsters:
5 little monsters, sleeping in my bed.
1 crawled out from under my spread.
I called to Mama and Mama said.
“No more monsters sleeping in your bed!”
Continue until there are no little monsters and sing
No little monsters sleeping in my bed.
None crawling out from under my spread.
I called to Mama and Mama said,
“There are no more monsters, please go to bed!”
Over to You
I know this was a big day and you don’t have to do all of it, but it was such a great way for us to tackle some “big” issues. I can’t wait to set up our next monster theme learn and play session.
What would you add?!