PLANS and ACTIVITIES for
THE MONSTER WHO
ATE MY PEAS
Written by Danny Schnitzlein
Illustrated by Matt Faulkner
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!
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.
and Praise for The Monster Who Ate My Peas
2003-2004 Young Hoosier Book Award (Indiana)
2003-2004 Black-Eyed Susan Award (Maryland)
List, 2003-2004 Show Me Readers Award (MO)
List, 2003-2004 Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award
*Nominee 2004 Virginia Readers’ Choice Award.
rhymes flow, begging to be read aloud. Children
will clamor to hear this one again and again.” --School
is one of the best picture storybooks to come along in a while.”
story will drive home a point while making your child laugh out loud.”
--Christian Parenting Today
of action and fun. An endearing
tale for both reader and listener alike.”
--Christian Library Journal
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.
you listener to look at the cover of the book and guess what the story might be
occasionally to ask your listener how he/she thinks the boy is feeling.
your listener to retell the story in his/her own words.
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.)
hearing about other people’s fears makes our own seem less ferocious.
If you wish, discuss your own fears with your listener.
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?
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?
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.
Write a story about an incident from your own life which taught you
something about responsibility or consequences.
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
rhyme patterns, like ABAB, AABB, and limericks.
Which one is The Monster Who Ate My Peas written in?
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?
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.
Arts: Just Doodle It!
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.
Arts: Myth-maker Myth-maker
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.
Read aloud or have students read “Theseus and the Minotaur” or
“Perseus and Medusa.”
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
Create a monster myth. What
is your monster’s name? How was
it created? Where does it live?
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)
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.
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?
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.
Arts: Character Building
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.)
Is your character a boy or girl?
How old is your character?
Write a description of your character’s appearance.
Give your character a name. Names
can tell us something about the character, like Ichabod Crane.
What is your character’s talent? What’s
she good at? What can she do better
than all her friends?
What is your character’s greatest fear?
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)
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?)
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?)
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.
Arts: Life is But a Dream
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?
Arts: Point of View
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.
at a map or globe and find these places named in The Monster Who Ate My Peas:
North Carolina, USA
of these places are countries? Which
are cities? Which one is an island?
a report about one of these places.
Foods Around The World
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?
of these foods do you think kids would or wouldn’t like to eat?
a report on the foods of one of these places.
your listener to define the following words from The Monster Who Ate My Peas:
Arts/ Language Arts: Create a
of all ages love monsters.
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.
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.
and Research Skills: Monster Or
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.)
sure to include these details in your report:
Does this animal have any natural enemies?
Do humans interact with this animal?
Have humans affected the populations of this animal?
If this animal were to become extinct, what would happen to the other
plants and animals in its food chain?
In your opinion, is this animal a “monster” or not?
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|