Green screens and underpants: How I engaged my little monsters!

Amy Kingsley

Since qualifying as a primary school teacher in 2009, I have taught across KS1 and 2 at three schools in the Manchester area. After studying English and Hispanic Studies at Sheffield University, I went on to complete a PGCE Primary in Spanish at Manchester Metropolitan University. I'm passionate about making English lessons exciting and engaging through the use of ICT. I was thrilled to join Russell Scott Primary School earlier this year and I'm loving my role developing the teaching of literacy through the use of iPads.

Follow @MissKingsley85

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

My job as a Year One teacher is many things, but it is certainly never dull! I count dressing up, leaving mysterious messages and generally making a bit of a fool of myself as all in a day’s work! Luckily, my colleague is almost as crazy as me and fully on board for the ride! Faced with a lively and very enthusiastic cohort, we wanted to end the previous school year with a topic which would really engage them. Thus we began our topic ‘Do monsters live amongst us?’ by hooking pupils into Claire Freedman’s book: Monsters Love Underpants.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, here’s a video of our pupils reading it aloud in front of a green screen:

YouTube link

Pupils arrived at school after the May half term break to find a mysterious puddle of slime and an envelope containing a misspelt but phonically decodable letter addressed to Year One. They were amused at the visitor’s poor spelling but could decode it, which was excellent practise for the upcoming Phonic Screening Check!

In the letter, Slimy Steve (who was considering relocating to Denton) asked the children some questions about their local area. Children enjoyed answering his questions, particularly “Whair can I goa shopping for nyoo underpants?”

The next day, pupils were surprised to find that Slimy Steve (and his family) had left their underpants to dry in the classroom! Pupils discovered a washing line displaying underpants in a variety of sizes and styles, as well as some monster profiles. Pupils read the profiles in groups and matched each pair of underpants with their owner!

Pupils then wrote sentences to explain their choices, which was a perfect opportunity to practise using the connective ‘because’. This image shows an example of a monster profile and a finished piece of work:

Year One were excited to return to school the next day to find out if Slimy Steve had left any more surprises! We explained that, curious to discover the slimy culprit, the headteacher had been closely examining the school CCTV and had spotted some interesting footage of the KS1 playground!

Pupils watched the CCTV and listened to a witness statement from their Reception teacher, who had been shopping when a suspiciously green and spiky looking creature rushed past!

YouTube link

Children then generated adjectives to describe the slimy suspect and created posters to display around school.

Our ‘book hook’ week culminated in children discovering a gift along with another misspelt but decodable note from Slimy Steve. The gift was a copy of Monsters Love Underpants and children recognised some of the familiar characters, such as the slimy Drool Monster, whose pants fall down all the time!

A week of hooking children into the story led to pupils planning and writing their own ‘Monsters love…’ stories. They had some imaginative ideas, such as ‘Monsters love Mars bars’, ‘Monsters love tarantulas’ and (my personal favourite) ‘Monsters love high heels’!

To complement our English work, we planned monster-themed topic lessons on mythical monsters around the world. Starting with the Loch Ness Monster, we looked at spoof images of Nessie throughout history and discussed how they had been made. We looked at more modern spoof images and explored how images can be manipulated using the cropping feature within the Explain Everything iPad app.

Simple instructions for cropping an image using Explain Everything can be found here.

To introduce pupils to email as part of the Computing curriculum, we used a fake email generator website to send pupils an email from ‘Scary Susan’, challenging them to find images of the Loch Ness Monster. They used Google to find pictures and then replied to Scary Susan’s email as a class. Fake email generators can be found quite easily with a Google search.

We spent a Geography lesson investigating the physical and human features of Loch Ness, prompted by a message from Nessie herself!

YouTube link

I used the free iPad app Chatterpix to easily create this video. If accents are not your forte, you may want to ask someone to help you. I am lucky enough to have a mother who does an uncanny Scottish accent! A simple guide for using Chatterpix can be found here. During the lesson, pupils looked at images of Loch Ness and annotated the features, colour-coding the human and physical features.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of our monster topic was Monster Day! Children (and adults) dressed up as monsters and we enjoyed a fun-filled day of monster madness! My colleague revealed her talent for dancing when we created this instructional video for the ‘Monster Bop’ dance. Children watched the video, learnt the dance and then took part in a monster flash mob! You can put your dancing shoes on and enjoy the instructional video here:

YouTube link

The instructional video was made using iMovie and Green Screen by Do Ink. iMovie is one of my favourite apps, as it can be used to create professional movie trailers to introduce lessons. I made this movie for my lesson on mythical monsters around the world during Monster Day:

YouTube link

A simple guide for creating an iMovie trailer can be found here. Children then used Chatterpix, which is very KS1-friendly, to create these clips in role as the mythical monsters. Here is an example of a Siren being brought to life using Chatterpix!

YouTube link

Our final Monster Day activity involved introducing pupils to stop-motion animation. They had lots of fun painting mythical monster habitats and making the monsters with playdough. Pupils worked in pairs to create the following short animations, concentrating on keeping the iPad still and keeping their hands out of shot!

YouTube link

The children were enjoying the topic so much that we decided to prepare for our school trip to the zoo by introducing pupils to some real-life monsters! I used iMovie to create this trailer as a lesson hook.

YouTube link

Children then completed a ‘reading trail’, reading texts on real-life monsters and answering comprehension questions on what they had read. Children enjoy finding the texts, which are displayed around the learning area and working collaboratively to answer the questions. To differentiate the trail, children can be given simpler versions of the texts, or captions to match with pictures.

To see the full reading trail and comprehension questions, visit our blog.

The impact of this pupil-led topic was clearly reflected in the high standard of written work produced by the pupils when asked to apply their learning by writing an information book about real-life monsters. The next day, we asked pupils to record themselves reading their written work aloud using the Book Creator app. This activity enables pupil to edit and improve their own work. To view pupils’ iBooks, visit our blog.

I hope that by sharing our fun-filled topic, I’ve given you some ideas for how to engage your little monsters. Please do follow me on Twitter (@MissKingsley85) and my class account (@ClassMissK) and visit our school blog site For now, I’ll leave you with my little monsters coming face to face with a real-life monster at Blackpool Zoo!

Have you utilised resources to a similar effect? Let us know in the comments!

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"