I thought it was about time I introduced you to the two most popular members of my class. Please say hello to the Number Monster and the Alphabet Monster! These guys are the star of the show any time they make an appearance, and I use them every week for teaching new concepts, revising old ones, and practicing those skills that we need to go over regularly. My monsters have been the single best teaching tool that I have used in my classroom in the past few years - they make those repetitious activities exciting and engaging every time! Keep reading for ideas of how to use them in your own classroom. :)
I made both of my monsters from old boxes. The Number Monster is a baby, he was made from a Kleenex box. I spray painted it and added some dot stickers, googly eyes and card teeth and tongue. The Alphabet Monster was a wine glass box (!) and required a bit of cutting to make the teeth. I painted him and glued on some scrapbook paper dots. The eyes are supported at the back with craft sticks and are made from more scrapbook paper and card circles. I've seen other DIY monsters made from plastic bottles and little swing-top garbage bins, but I've had mine for years and they have never needed repair even though they are only cardboard.
We usually use the monsters during carpet time, we sit in a circle and I hold them as they are fed (don't tell the kidlets, but it's really me making the "nom nom nom nom nom!" noise as they eat!). I either give each child a card/object or place them in the middle of the circle for the kidlets to choose from. I tell them that "The Alphabet/Number Monster wants to eat..." and they choose the 'correct' food.
The Alphabet Monster eats:
*Letters during letter recognition or phonics activities - either magnetic letters, beads, or cards.
*Picture cards or objects during phonics activities - initial/medial/final sounds, rhyming work or based on a word family.
The Number Monster eats:
*Numerals, ten frames, dot patterns, number words - during recognition activities.
*Numbers more than/less than.
*Two numbers that add to another.
But really... they can gobble up just about anything! I love to have a basket of 'Monster Food' (scrap paper cut into squares) so that the kidlets themselves can draw/write to make the type of food the Monster wants to eat.
The most important thing to remember when using the Monsters is that the more 'alive' you make them seem, the more engaged the kidlets will be when you use them. Each Monster should have it's own voice and personality. Our Number Monster is a baby, so he is very quiet and shy. You have to be quite careful when you feed him so he doesn't get scared. My kidlets love to give his head a pat when they've fed him. The Alphabet Monster is much more confident, his voice is louder and his mouth moves - if you're not quick enough when feeding him, he bites! Whenever we begin a monster activity, I always begin by saying 'We haven't fed the Number Monster in a few days, he must be so hungry!' or, "The Alphabet Monster was telling me how much he felt like gobbling up letters for lunch today!" Then the kidlets are participating in the activity to please the monster, not me - it adds another personality to your teaching team. :)
I hope you can use this idea in your classroom, too. Feeding monsters is so much fun, your kidlets will love it and best of all they will be learning as they smile and giggle!