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LESSON PLANS and ACTIVITIES for

THE MONSTER WHO ATE MY PEAS

                                                Written by Danny Schnitzlein           Illustrated by Matt Faulkner

 

About The Book

How far would you go to avoid facing your fears?  Sometimes we go so far, we create situations worse than what we’re trying to escape.  The boy in The Monster Who Ate My Peas makes a wish for his dreaded peas to disappear, and faces a “Twilight Zone” dilemma when a monster appears, offering to get rid of his peas . . . for a price!

Author Danny Schnitzlein draws from his own childhood aversion to peas to create a story which helps the reader examine his/her own fears, and to discover that fears are often based on invented or inflated truths, which have no basis in reality.  When the monster asks for the boy’s dog in return for eating the dreaded peas, the boy must decide which is more important to him, and helps us see how our choices build character and determine who we really are.

 

Themes

*Facing fears

*Actions and consequences

*Responsibility

*Character

*Courage

 

Awards and Praise for The Monster Who Ate My Peas

*Winner 2003-2004 Young Hoosier Book Award (Indiana)

*Nominee 2003-2004 Black-Eyed Susan Award (Maryland)

*Master List, 2003-2004 Show Me Readers Award (MO)

*Master List, 2003-2004 Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award

*Nominee 2004 Virginia Readers’ Choice Award.

 

“The rhymes flow, begging to be read aloud.  Children will clamor to hear this one again and again.”  --School Library Journal

“This is one of the best picture storybooks to come along in a while.”  --Tampa Tribune

“This story will drive home a point while making your child laugh out loud.”  --Christian Parenting Today

“Full of action and fun.  An endearing tale for both reader and listener alike.”  --Christian Library Journal

 

Before You Read

*Ask your listener what foods he/she doesn’t like to eat.  Remind your listener that this story is drawn from the author’s childhood fear of peas.

*Ask you listener to look at the cover of the book and guess what the story might be about.

 

As You Read

*Pause occasionally to ask your listener how he/she thinks the boy is feeling.

 

After You Read

*Ask your listener to retell the story in his/her own words.

 

*Talk about fears with your listener.  “What are you afraid of?   What do you do to stop from being afraid?”   (The author of the book was once afraid of eating peas, but had to re-examine his fear when he ate what he thought was avocado soup and liked it.  Then he discovered it was actually pea soup!  Sometimes our fears are based on things which aren’t even true.) 

 

*Sometimes hearing about other people’s fears makes our own seem less ferocious.  If you wish, discuss your own fears with your listener. 

 

*Discuss with your listener the difference between “reputation” and “character.”  “Reputation” is what other people think of you.  “Character” is the way you view yourself from the inside.  What’s the difference?  How did the boy’s character change when he ate the peas?  How do you think he felt about himself after facing his fear?

 

*Ask your listener these questions:  Do you think the boy in the story got back his belongings at the end of the story?  Why do you think he should or shouldn’t get them back?

 

*Discuss actions, consequences, and responsibility.  Ask your listener to give definitions of each, in his or her own words.   Talk about these concepts in relation to the story.

 

*Assignment:   Write a story about an incident from your own life which taught you something about responsibility or consequences.

 

*Are there things in the illustrations that aren’t mentioned in the text?  (examples:  The little sister.  The monsters on the last page.)  How does the illustrator use the character and expressions of the dog, Ralph, to tell us how to feel about the monster?

 

 

 

 

ACTIVITIES

 

Language Arts:  Poetry

1.  Discuss rhyme patterns, like ABAB, AABB, and limericks.  Which one is The Monster Who Ate My Peas written in? 

2.  Note how the meter and phrasing of The Monster Who Ate My Peas is the same as in Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who.  How do poetry and rhyming help stories to be more like music?

3.  Read some poems from some of these rhyming authors:  Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, Ogden Nash, Jeff Moss.  Notice how they often end their poems with a joke or a surprise.  Can you find examples of alliteration in their poems?

Assignment:  Have your listener write 20 words that rhyme, (or do it as a class), then use those words as a springboard to write a limerick or poem.

 

Visual Arts:  Just Doodle It!

Dr. Seuss often doodled to get ideas for his stories.  Doodle on a piece of paper, then write a short rhyming poem about what you just drew. 

 

Language Arts:  Myth-maker Myth-maker

Greek and Roman myths often featured stories about monsters.  (The hydra, the minotaur, harpies, Medusa, and the Cyclops.)  Sometimes myths were written purely as entertainment and sometimes they were written to explain natural phenomena. 

Class Discussion:  Read aloud or have students read “Theseus and the Minotaur” or “Perseus and Medusa.”

Assignment A:  Create a myth to explain a natural phenomenon like lightning or fog.  Why does a snake have no legs?  What are clouds?  Why does the moon have phases?

Assignment B:  Create a monster myth.  What is your monster’s name?  How was it created?  Where does it live?

 

Language Arts:  Legends

Places all over the world have their own monster legends.  (ex:  Bigfoot, Sea Monsters, vampires, dragons, Loch Ness Monster, Yeti, Ghosts, El Chupacabra, The Skunk Ape)

Assignment A:  Research a monster legend and write a report on it.  Do you believe this legendary monster exists?  Or is it imagined?  Make a case one way or the other.

Assignment B:  Make up your own legendary monster.  Write an article about it as it might appear in a newspaper.  When and where was it first sighted and by whom?  What does it look like?  What times of day is it usually spotted? 

Assignment C:  You are the Monster Hunter, hot on the trail of an elusive monster, never seen before.  Describe the monster’s appearance, where it lives, what it eats.  Draw a picture of it.  Write up the report of your investigation.

 

Language Arts: Character Building

Creating an interesting or convincing character gives your story a focus and tells you what your story needs to be about.  Have your listener create a character by answering the following questions.  (There are no wrong answers.  It’s okay if they want to make the character a monster or animal, but they’ll be able to identify more with the character if he/she is like them.)

1.  Is your character a boy or girl?

2.  How old is your character?

3. Write a description of your character’s appearance.

4.  Give your character a name.  Names can tell us something about the character, like Ichabod Crane.

5.  What is your character’s talent?  What’s she good at?  What can she do better than all her friends?

6.  What is your character’s greatest fear?

7.  What does your character want more than anything in the world?  (Not all desires are for tangible things.  For example:  wanting to make friends at a new school)

8.  What is preventing your character from getting the thing he/she wants most?  (This will provide the conflict in your story.  What would “Star Wars” be without Darth Vader?)

*Your listener may wish to make up additional questions and think about more things to describe the character.  (examples:  your character’s best friend, pets, home life, is he messy or neat?)

*After creating the character, your listener may wish to write a story about this person.  Note how the kernel of the story is contained in the character.  Or you might say, the story is entwined in the character’s DNA.

 

Language Arts:  Life is But a Dream

The Monster Who Ate My Peas was inspired by Danny Schnitzlein’s childhood fear of eating peas.  Writing from your own experience makes your story more powerful because you are drawing on real emotions and sensory information.  Start with the words “I remember . . .” and write a story about something that happened to you at any time in your life.  Make sure to use description which engages the senses.  At that moment, how did things look, smell, sound, feel, and taste?

 

 

 

Language Arts:  Point of View

Grendel, by John Gardner, is the story of Beowulf written from the monster’s point of view.  Write a well-known story from the antagonist’s point of view.  (Some possibilities:  the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, the witch from Hansel and Gretel, the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk.

 

Geography:  Globetrotting

Look at a map or globe and find these places named in The Monster Who Ate My Peas:

Bali, Indonesia

Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Chile, South America

Sweden, Europe

*Which of these places are countries?  Which are cities?  Which one is an island?

*Write a report about one of these places.

 

Geography:  Foods Around The World

Ask your listener to research foods that are eaten by children in another part of the world.  What do kids eat in Japan, China, Indonesia, South America, Russia, Croatia, Chile, Mexico City? 

*Which of these foods do you think kids would or wouldn’t like to eat? 

*Write a report on the foods of one of these places.

 

Language Arts:  Vocabulary

Ask your listener to define the following words from The Monster Who Ate My Peas:

1.  mysterious

2.  gruesome

3.  bloated

4.  writhe

5.  candid

6.  torso

7.  quiver

8.  boorish

9.  gaze

 

Visual Arts/ Language Arts:  Create a Monster!

People of all ages love monsters. 

Assignment A:  Have your listener draw a monster that’s never been seen before.  They might use objects such as buttons, leaves, fabric, pipe cleaners.  Or, the monster could be created in 3d using modeling material.  Air-drying clays (like DAS) allow the monster to be painted after drying.  Now have your listener name the monster.

Assignment B:  Write a story about the monster you created.  Was this monster always a monster?  If not, how did he become a monster?  Is the monster truly evil or does he just look scary?  Consider having your listener write from the monster’s point of view.

 

Science and Research Skills:  Monster Or Not?

Humans view certain animal predators as “monsters.”  Research a “monstrous” animal and write a report.  (examples:  shark, crocodile, alligator, snake, lion, cheetah, leopard, lion, tiger, panther, wolf, coyote, grizzly bear, komodo dragon, etc.)

Make sure to include these details in your report:

1. Does this animal have any natural enemies?

2. Do humans interact with this animal?

3.  Have humans affected the populations of this animal?

4.  If this animal were to become extinct, what would happen to the other plants and animals in its food chain?

5.  In your opinion, is this animal a “monster” or not?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danny Schnitzlein’s first book, The Monster Who Ate My Peas, received the Young Hoosier Book Award and was nominated for readers choice awards in five states.  Danny also writes scripts and songs for children’s educational television.  He enjoys playing guitar and ukulele, reading, painting, and movies.  He lives in the Atlanta area with his wife and son.  Visit DannySchnitzlein.com  to learn more and find out how to invite Danny to your school.

 

                      Copyright 2003, Danny Schnitzlein