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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Monster love connects elementary to high school students

Aug 10, 2023 11:11AM ● By Julie Slama

Through an integrated learning project, third graders bond with high school students.

“It’s awesome; it looked like what I drew.”

That’s what Bella Vista third-grader Ellie Hughes said when Jordan High sophomore Morgan Thompson presented her a stuffed monster that the youngster had designed.

“I thought her design as really cool, and I really liked how her crown was on the top,” said Morgan, who took the design and created it into reality in about 10 days. “For the most part, it was just smooth riding, and it was fun to make.”

The idea behind the exchange came from Jordan High fine arts teacher Keven Proud, who had his Sculpture I students make the cuddly toys.

“I love this interaction, the connection we can make between a younger generation of kids and an older generation of students,” he said. “I love the creativity that we get to share between the 2D (dimensional) younger artists and 3D older students. I love to see the faces on the youngsters when they get the monsters and I love to see these high school students’ faces when they get to give them. It’s amazing to see how much more motivated my students are when they’re able to do something for somebody else than any of the other projects that we’re doing.”

Proud, who has done this project with multiple schools, reached out earlier this fall and did it with another Bella Vista Elementary class, timing it for Halloween. This time, the high school students got the drawings in late February.

“It takes a couple weeks to do. As part of the core, my students have to learn how to do a two dimensional to three dimensional art and work with fabric mediums. But my biggest want from these guys is to be able to make that connection that giving art can be a service,” he said.

Proud also likes the creativity of the project.

“It’s fun and it’s easier for my high school kids to adapt something that’s not realistic,” he said.

Bella Vista third-grade teacher Rebecca Allen wanted a learning experience for her students as well.

She incorporated literacy into the collaboration.

“We read the book, ‘Love Monster’ by Rachel Bright, about a character who is awkward-looking and he doesn’t see anybody that is like him until the end of the story,” Allen said. “It’s a good message that we’re just not all the same and at the same time, we could talk about diversity and relate it back to monsters. I wanted the kids to learn they can always relate to somebody who they could talk to or make a friend. Afterward, we followed Keven’s YouTube video where he modeled how to create a monster to specifications and then, they created monsters all by themselves, which was really fun.”

After the third graders received their monsters, the high schoolers helped them incorporate writing about their monster into the project.

“It’s a good integrated project, where you’re using arts, you’re using texture, you’re reading and using the creative writing process. Our students think it’s fun to write their own stories about their monsters and to have that freedom to come up with background on their monsters, to tell a story and to have a mentor for an hour,” she said. “Another plus is that there are a lot of big emotions in elementary school, and they all haven’t quite managed to figure out what they are or how to deal with those. I feel like kids are needing that help. So, we talked about how we could use our monsters could just be good listeners.”

Third-grader London Perry was happy with the outcome of her new monster friend, Pom Pom.

“I put a few wavy things on it and then added a nose and put the bow on it — and she just did it like I wanted,” London said.

Senior Gabi Montoya followed the drawing and used her sewing skills to craft the monster into a reality.

“When I saw her drawing, I thought it would be really fun to meet the person that I’m drawing for,” she said. “I liked that I got to use somebody else’s inspiration; everybody’s pictures were really cute. It was nice knowing that somebody was going to get to curl up with it and love it.” λ