ARTSEDGE Lessons for Elementary School

Adjective Monster

Use language arts and literary arts to creatively tell stories and express emotions


Key Staff

Classroom teacher

Key Skills

Making Art: Producing, Executing and Performing


This lesson explores the connections between visual art and language arts, and how both are used to creatively tell stories and express emotions. Students will read the book Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley. They will be introduced to adjectives as descriptive words then create their own monsters using paper sculpture techniques.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Define “adjective” and list at least one example.
  • Create a monster that reflects a chosen adjective.
  • Recognize and name basic geometric shapes.
  • Use paper sculpture techniques.

Teaching Approach

Arts Enhanced

Teaching Methods

  • Brainstorming
  • Modeling
  • Independent Practice

Assessment Type

Informal Assessment


What You'll Need

Required Technology
  • 1 Computer per Classroom
  • Projector
Required Plugins
Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

Visit A Love of Monsters for photos of architectural monsters that you may wish to post to inspire students.

Prior Student Knowledge

General knowledge of basic shapes


Individualized Instruction


Lesson requires open space on the board. If you choose to project the Paper Techniques chart, projector must be set up.

Accessibility Notes

Students with physical disabilities may need modified movements.


Resources in Reach

Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.

Build Knowledge


1. Read the book Go Away Big Green Monster and discuss adjectives with the students.

2. Explain how adjectives can be used to describe an emotion or describe an appearance, like, "grumpy" or "hairy." To illustrate this point, read the sentence from the book where these two words are used. Continue to reference the book, and make note of the adjectives used in the book like "sharp" and "squiggly." Always read the sentence that the adjective is used in so that the students can get a clearer picture of what an adjective is and how an adjective is used.

Build Knowledge

1. Ask students to brainstorm lists of adjectives. Create two lists on the board, one titled "Emotion" and the other titled "Appearance." If students are able to write or print, have them use the Adjectives List worksheet located within the Resource Carousel. Copy the words on the board for reinforcement. Students who volunteer an adjective for one of the lists should use the word in a sentence.

2. Ask students to identify the names of geometric shapes using paper cutouts of a square, triangle, circle, rectangle, and oval. Review the names with students. Then tape the shape to the board and write the name beside it. Do this for all four shapes. Distribute the Geometric Shapes worksheet located within the Resource Carousel and have the students draw a shape next to its name.


1. Have students choose an adjective for their monster from the list they created at the beginning of the lesson. Refer to the lists on the board.

2. Pass out a large sheet (12x18) of black construction paper and a light colored chalkstick or crayon to each student. Have students write "Go Away Big ___ Monster" at the top of their black paper. They will then fill in the blank with their chosen adjective. Walk around the room and check for understanding.

3. Have students choose a shape that they will use for the head of their monster. Explain again that this shape will be the shape of their monster’s face. Tell them that they should carefully consider that the shape and the adjective they are using should complement each other.

4. Discuss how to make the face reflect the chosen adjective. Ask the students to make the face of a "mean" monster and discuss with them what their eyes, eyebrows, and mouth do. Explain that when you make a mean face the eyebrows point down to the nose, when you make a happy face the eyebrows arch upwards, when you make a sad face the eyebrows dip down towards the ears, etc. Pass out construction paper and scissors so students can cut out a shape for the face. Have students begin to cut out and design their monster’s head using the construction paper.

5. Explain to the students that they will be creating their features with construction paper and paper sculpture techniques. Demonstrate some paper sculpture techniques for the students. Some suggested techniques include: cut a small strip of paper and curl it around a pencil, fold a small strip of paper in small accordion like folds, cut the paper in small grass-like strips, fold a small strip of paper in a zig-zag shape, and create hair strands that pop out on the monster. Add these to the monster for hair, 3D eyes, noses, etc. Show students your completed example. Remember to share your chosen adjective.  Encourage students to come up with their own ideas for sculptural effects.

5. Monitor students' progress and remind each student that his/her monster must have eyes, nose, mouth and ears, but may also have multiple features. Provide feedback and comments, explaining to students how they can make the features reflect the adjectives.


1. Have each student stand and share their monster with the class. Ask students to discuss how the chosen adjective is reflected in the features of each monster.


Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.

The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the National Core Arts Standards (http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.

ArtsEdge Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.

Common Core/State Standards

Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.

National Standards For Arts Education
Visual Arts

Grade K-4 Visual Arts Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

Grade K-4 Visual Arts Standard 2: Using knowledge of structures and functions

Grade K-4 Visual Arts Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

National Standards in Other Subjects

Math Standard 1: Uses a variety of strategies in the problem-solving process

Math Standard 2: Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of numbers



Barbara Gardner
Original Writer

Amy Heathcott

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