An interesting Book & Hidden Monster Shape Play!
After reading Steve Light’s “Have You Seen My Monster?” we decided to replicate what we’d seen in the book. My daughter initiated drawing the monster so we can hide him, as well as the shapes, in shredded paper for fun sensory play. Easy to put together and many ways to play and engage in math concepts, I’m excited to show you. So, let’s get started…
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Summary of “Have You Seen My Monster?”
“Have You Seen My Monster?” by Steve Light is an fantastically illustrated book about a little girl who’s looking for her hairy purple monster friend. The setting is a county fair with all you would imagine seeing, from the ferris wheel to the food trucks and everything in between.
The book highlights 20 different (and I truly mean different) shapes, each highlighted one by one as the pages turn. There are simple shapes that you typically see in a read aloud, like circles, triangles and squares. But there is also nonagons, quatrefoils, and other shapes, that I’ll admit I had never heard of before reading this book.
The illustrations are pen and ink with only one color highlighted on each page, making the shape stand out even further and making it a fun interactive read, as kids will undoubtedly point to both the hidden monster, and the highlighted shapes!
Hidden Monster Shape Play?
You might be wondering… “What do you do with it?” or “How is this not just going to be a sensory mess?” There are many ways to answer these two common questions…
First, the most basic answer to “What you could do with Hidden Monster Shape Play?” is… have Fun. Sensory play at its finest is not about “doing” something specific. It is about exploring, feeling, listening, watching, problem solving, creating, etc… This is an open-ended activity. Just as each child has their own unique personality, experience, and preference in play, the outcome of this activity is just as special.
As for the second question, Yes, this is could be a messy one! But, I hear you. I’ve been asked that question many times. Therefore, a detailed answer, along with strategies for successful messy sensory play, can be found by reading, “What about the Sensory Mess?”
What We Did with Hidden Monster Shape Play…
We tend to keep the activities as simple as possible around here. We’re not interested in complicated or costly. We are also all about fostering independence. So, for this activity, first my daughter drew her own monster like the one shown in the book and colored it purple. While she was working on that, I gathered the shredded paper and tiny shape erasers we had found at Target. Then she gave me the monster to hide, which I did, as I sprinkled the shredded paper and shapes on top.
My daughter quickly commented on how the shredded paper felt. She liked the feeling, I on the other hand did not. Then, she noticed how noisy it was as she rustled through it. She gathered the tiny shapes using her fine motor skills and found the monster in no time. I did not pop quiz her on what shape or color she had found.
Why I don’t believe in Pop Quizzing your Child
I often see well intentioned parents doing this during play. I’ll admit I’ve done it myself many times too (I am a teacher after all 😉 ). But I’ve also seen it be the quickest way for a child to loose interest in a task. In our FREE Printables Library I offer suggestions, specific to each activity you will find here on our blog, of open ended questions you can ask instead. Questions that will assist you in engaging your child in meaningful conversation.
But because I work with little ones (under 3) & because I’m also a special educator, I understand your child, regardless of age might not be ready to answer open ended questions. Therefore, it will be even more tempting to pop quiz them, but I still stand by my suggestion to not do that.
So what Could I Do Instead of Pop Quizzing?
I have found both in working with young children and with my own kids, that less is more. If you give them the space to explore the sensory materials without conditions, they will often begin to excitedly share what they are feeling. Little ones tend to comment, “look!” (excited about what they see), “uh-oh” (when the shredded paper falls out of the container), “go?” (asking where the monster is), “monster!” (when they find it), etc… Patience is key, being mindful, waiting for them to initiate, responding and reinforcing their communication by smiling, repeating what you heard, agreeing or disagreeing with them, etc..
I’m not at all suggesting you don’t talk to them while they are playing, quite the opposite in fact. Just try to be mindful in what you are saying. Narrating and expressing what you are thinking is always a great direction to go in, especially if you have a child who is not yet verbal. Hearing you describe the textures “wow, this paper is very crinkley, its noisy too, can you hear it?”, looking for the monster “monster where are you? Are you under the triangle? nope, he wasn’t under there. Maybe he’s under the red circle, do you see him under there?”, and commenting will help them build their vocabulary with words they would otherwise probably not be hearing. And its a way to connect with them.
Back to What We Did
After collecting all the shapes and finding the monster several times, my daughter initiated stacking the tiny shapes by color, which in this case meant by shape as well, as each shape was only one color. If you are making your own shapes for this play, I suggest making each shape in 2-3 different colors. It will help you expand play to sorting and pattern making with more options and critical thinking.
Speaking of patterns, this is where she took her play next. She made different patterns, then we took turns setting up the beginning of a pattern for each other to finish. Once we were done with making patterns, we made a rainbow tower. This led to her trying to see how many tiny shapes tall she could get her tower to be. Lastly, she made designs using the shapes as tangrams. Besides shapes being included in this sensory play, I truly had no idea how much math we were going to cover, all while having fun.
I would suggest Hidden Monster Shape Play if you’re looking for a simple & interactive activity to connect with your child & work on math in a fun way!
Materials We Used
- “Have You Seen My Monster?” by Steve Light (from the library or you can buy one here)
- Shredded paper (if you get any subscription boxes you probably already have some or you can buy it here)
- Shapes (I couldn’t find the ones we used, but I love the idea of using these foam sticker shapes, then you could extend the activity even further by creating shape art! But truly any shapes will work, including cutting some out of paper)
- Paper monster (have them draw one or color one that you draw with them in!)
Click HERE for Free Printable copy (Email Subscribers Only)
How to Make Hidden Monster Shape Play?
- Sprinkle some shredded paper into a container.
- Scatter some shapes onto the shredded paper.
- Sprinkle more shredded paper onto the shapes.
- Hide the paper monster somewhere in the paper shreds.
- That’s all!
Click HERE for Free Printable copy (Email Subscribers Only)
Wait, There’s More…
I believe you can easily strengthen communication skills and foster independence all while playing and connecting with your child. To help you do this; I’ve created a FREE printable for each activity called, “Communicating & Connecting”.
It will give you a list of suggestions I’ve found very helpful as a Mom & as a special education teacher; to help you build lifelong skills. Please don’t feel obligated to do everything on the list (but if you do, you’re a rockstar 😉 ).
As a Thank You for subscribing; this is a special FREEBIE for our Email Subscribers Only. 🙂 Click here if you’ve already subscribed. Otherwise, Sign Up below to get the password & access to our entire FREE Printables Library today! 😉
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