Monsters at the Prince

Grade 2:  Playing the Hand Monster Game

This is a great game to play with a new class, if you can get the kids on board.  Once again, I was in the school doing a one-off … so the kids didn’t know me.

After my introductions I told them we were going to play an Art Game.  Here’s how it goes:  everyone gets a piece of 11×17 paper to put their hand on and trace it with a pencil.  I demonstrated some different ways that they might do that, to get different shapes, and that they would want to close of the open end where the wrist would continue.

Why different shapes?  Because … they were going to continue to draw to make that hand some kind of monster (sea monster?) in it’s natural environment.  That would mean drawing inside the hand shape (Where is the eye or the mouth?  Does it have 3 noses?  How about teeth – or fangs?), and outside it (Does it have spikes or feathers?  What kinds of things might swimming or flying around it?  What does it eat?  Where does it live?)  Don’t start yet!

“Wait a minute.  Before anyone picks up a pencil crayon or a marker to continue, I am going to give you some directions about how you might draw these things.  Here’s the game.  I have two sets of cue cards with directions on them – one set with suggestions about what kind of line to draw (squiggles, circles, zig zags (always a favourite – that one), dotted), and a set of cards with the colour you will draw with for that turn. (BTW:  They all acquired a new skill in learning how to draw spirals at this point – we practised!) I also have a bell to tell you when to follow my directions and for how long:  each turn will begin and end when I ring the bell.

Oh, one more thing.  We are going to do this as a class, and you will all get to draw on each other’s papers.  (Here’s where some students get nervous – they want to and are excited to do their own.)  Every time I ring the bell to stop, you will pass the paper to the classmate on your right.”

(The drawings move around the classroom – not  the students.)  

I hastily let them know that, yes, they will get their original artwork back – yes, the one with their hand outlined.  The fun will be to see what their classmates did with it!  What kind of monster did they end up with?  

I reminded them that everyone should try their best with the directions given each turn, and not ‘wreck’ their classmate’s monster by just carelessly scribbling all over it.  It takes some doing to get kids to release their artwork to one another – trust, seeing the fun of the game, and letting go of their own monster ideas they were already formulating.

Time to get at it!  For the first turn of monster detail, each student got a chance to do their own, just to get it going.  Ding!  Pass it to your right.

Most kids threw themselves into the game, and enjoyed using their imaginations to create wacky monsters.  Everyone was excited to see what happened with their own, and I had to keep assuring them they would get it back for the final turn.  The classroom was noisy and excited, and punctuated by the sound of my bell.  They had an array of markers and pencil crayons at their desks so they could respond to the directions without leaving their seats (that is key).  How fun!

At the end, when they were finished exclaiming over their hand monsters now back in their hands – there was one more thing.  Googly eyes!  Of course, because they are just so much fun.  Of course, because I have thousands of them, scrounged from my mother.  Thanks again, Mom.  Some monsters just had one eye, some had three, and the teacher and I came around with a little white glue and the requisite eyes for that final touch.

I love this lesson.  Can you tell?

PS>  There was one boy who found the prospect of a collaborative game too stressful – he really wanted to do his own and needed that control – so the teacher took him aside and he carried on with my directional turns by himself, discreetly. 

Spring 2013 / Prince of Wales School

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