Most children love monsters, and creating them in craft activities is always loads of fun as it allows their vivid imaginations to roam unfettered. Monsters can be any shape and size, and therefore all sorts of household bits and pieces can be used to make them.
This activity uses simple easily-sourced materials including cardboard boxes (of any type) and scrap paper, as well as child-friendly scissors, glue and felt-tipped pens. I always find that local retailers are more than happy to provide parents and teachers with waste cardboard packaging, so they’re usually my first stop when I’m collecting materials for this kind of activity.
You can use boxes of any size, but I usually try to limit them to about 30cm by 20cm. If they’re any larger young children tend to get bored as the activity can drag on too long, while the use of smaller boxes can make it finish too quickly. However, creating larger monsters would be a great activity for a group of children, so if you’re a teacher or child-care provider perhaps you may want to give this a try.
As with many children’s craft activities this one is extremely flexible. There are no hard and fast rules, and you can make your monsters as simple or as elaborate as you like, depending on the age and level of ability of the children you’re working with. As this activity is quite simple most older children will be competent to work independently. However, littler ones will definitely need adult assistance with the cutting and pasting.
Finally, this activity encourages the development of fine motor skills, so remember that even if your children struggle to ‘properly’ use the scissors and glue, simply fiddling around with these items is so beneficial for their development.
Time: 1 hour
Age: Any Age
A box to use as a base for your monster. I usually find one that’s medium in size is most suitable (approximately 30cm x 20cm) but use whatever size is most suitable for the children you’re working with.
Various types of paper to use for his or her hairy body. Recycled newspapers, junk mail, brown paper, gift-wrap, postage wrapping and bubble wrap are all perfect to use for this activity.
Glue - paper glue is great if you’ll just be using paper, but if you want to stick on other things as well craft glue may be necessary.
Eyes - either ‘wobbly eyes’ (easily purchased at craft shops or online), or you could draw your own.
Sticky tape and / or masking tape.
Felt, cardboard, small wooden spoons, paddlepop sticks or small twigs to use as arms and feet.
Pipe-cleaners in various colours
Cotton wool (optional)
Craft jewels or any other embellishments you have on hand (optional)
Cut strips of paper, approximately 10cm wide by 7cm high. Use these dimensions to start with – as you progress, you may find that larger or even smaller pieces are better for your child to work with. You can use a single type of paper (for example, newspaper) or mix various kinds, depending upon what you have available.
Take one of the pieces of paper and guide your child to gently cut into it, creating a fringed or hairy effect. While this will be a breeze for older children who have mastered their fine motor skills, very young ones will definitely need some assistance so they don’t chop the pieces of paper in half. If your youngster struggles to use scissors, perhaps encourage him or her to tear a fringe instead.
When you’ve completed several ‘paper fringes’, you and your child can start gluing them onto your monster. Start at the bottom of the cardboard box, with the fringe hanging down towards where the monster’s feet would be.
Continue cutting or tearing paper fringes, and gradually add layer upon layer on your monster’s body, creating a hairy effect. You can cover the monster’s entire body (including the back) with ‘hair’, or you may prefer the quicker method of just covering the front of the box.
To create a scruffier look for your monster you could gently ruffle the paper fringes. However, be sure to do this gently as otherwise you may damage it.
If you aren’t using shop-bought ‘wobbly eyes’, use a felt-tipped pen to draw some eyes and then cut them out. For one of our monsters we also made eyelashes from a circle of black paper which we fringed around the edges. Using a felt-tip pen, felt or coloured paper, you can draw a mouth for your monster. Perhaps add some long fangs to provide an extra-scary effect.
At this point you can add the monster’s eyes. Choose where you want them to go, and if necessary cut back some of the paper ‘hair’ so they’ll glue on more easily. Let your imagination run wild! Monsters don’t need to only have two eyes. Why not experiment with one, three or even more – perhaps even cross eyes or blood-shot eyes?
If you like, sticky-tape paddle-pop sticks, small wooden spoons, cardboard or felt onto the monster to create arms and feet for it.
Now that your monster is suitably hairy you may want to add some fun extras. Paddle-pop sticks and pipe-cleaners make great antennae, cotton wool can make fabulous eyebrows and glitter glue always adds a magic touch.