Students hold up their monster dolls and drawings in a classroom

Pre-K students at Livingston Manor aren't afraid of monsters.

At least not ones they designed and the high school clothing and textiles class brought to life.

In November, after discussing monsters around Halloween, Mari Martin's young students filled out a form describing their monsters. The students gave the monsters names and detailed what they like to eat, what they are scared of, their favorite color and their favorite thing to do. The students drew what their monster would look like.

That is where the juniors in Debra Davis' class came in.

Using their knowledge of fabrics and textiles, the students created soft, cuddly monsters, based on the 11 younger students' designs. 

"I think the approach to making the monsters is quite unique in that an exact replica of their drawing can be made into a real object," Martin said.

Each monster took on average three or four days to complete, students said.

"One monster that was a solid color with some eyes and a mouth took me about two or three days," Stephanie Mead said, "but we had a rainbow one and that took us about a week. Some we had to come back to because we wanted them to be just right."

The project taught the older students much more than sewing.

"I learned that crafting is all about a person’s interpretation of the project," Hailey Wolcott said. "It will never be the same for everyone. When looking at a project, one person might have a vision that is completely different from another person and that’s what makes it so fun."

"This whole experience made me learn a little bit about myself and what I can do to achieve the goals I have even when I think I can’t," Meade said. I learned a little more about time management, considering I worked on the weekends I had to really utilize my class time as well as study hall and other free times.

"I remember having a major set back on the first monster I made and I sewed it up all wrong and I felt super down about it," Meade continued, "but I realized that it’s OK to have set backs."

This is the first year the classes have collaborated on the project, said Davis, who is in her second year teaching family and consumer sciences at LMCS.

"I love making things for other people and seeing how happy they are in the end," Wolcott said. "Making the monsters specifically for the Pre-K made me look at the project in a new light. It made me want to work harder and perfect every detail on each monster."

Being an all-grades building helps make projects like these possible, the teachers said.

"I was happy to be involved with the high school, as I am a big supporter of interdisciplinary course work." Martin said. "I love the chance to have some of my 'old' students back in their Pre-K classroom, and the students love working with older students any chance they can."

The older students agree.

"The project was such a cute and creative way to get to know the Pre-K class and allow them to showcase their own personality through their imagination," Wolcott said. "It challenged me and my abilities to bring their drawings to real life in the best way that I can."

The pre-K students were introduced to their monsters Wednesday, May 18.

More monsters may be on the way next year.

"We are hopeful it will turn into an annual thing," Davis said.

Projects like the monster project should be encouraged, Meade said. "I think more people should test out projects like this because it provides problem solving skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, and all around real life skills that students of all ages should and can learn."

There is also a tangible benefit, she added. "It makes me smile that these kids may find their monsters years down the line and have a positive memory of their school experiences."