Green screens and underpants: How I engaged my little monsters!

Amy Kingsley

Since qualifying as a primary school teacher in 2009, I have taught across KS1 and 2 at three schools in the Manchester area. After studying English and Hispanic Studies at Sheffield University, I went on to complete a PGCE Primary in Spanish at Manchester Metropolitan University. I'm passionate about making English lessons exciting and engaging through the use of ICT. I was thrilled to join Russell Scott Primary School earlier this year and I'm loving my role developing the teaching of literacy through the use of iPads.

Follow @MissKingsley85

Website: 2016year1.russellscottblogs.net/ Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

My job as a Year One teacher is many things, but it is certainly never dull! I count dressing up, leaving mysterious messages and generally making a bit of a fool of myself as all in a day’s work! Luckily, my colleague is almost as crazy as me and fully on board for the ride! Faced with a lively and very enthusiastic cohort, we wanted to end the previous school year with a topic which would really engage them. Thus we began our topic ‘Do monsters live amongst us?’ by hooking pupils into Claire Freedman’s book: Monsters Love Underpants.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, here’s a video of our pupils reading it aloud in front of a green screen:

YouTube link

Pupils arrived at school after the May half term break to find a mysterious puddle of slime and an envelope containing a misspelt but phonically decodable letter addressed to Year One. They were amused at the visitor’s poor spelling but could decode it, which was excellent practise for the upcoming Phonic Screening Check!

In the letter, Slimy Steve (who was considering relocating to Denton) asked the children some questions about their local area. Children enjoyed answering his questions, particularly “Whair can I goa shopping for nyoo underpants?”


The next day, pupils were surprised to find that Slimy Steve (and his family) had left their underpants to dry in the classroom! Pupils discovered a washing line displaying underpants in a variety of sizes and styles, as well as some monster profiles. Pupils read the profiles in groups and matched each pair of underpants with their owner!



Pupils then wrote sentences to explain their choices, which was a perfect opportunity to practise using the connective ‘because’. This image shows an example of a monster profile and a finished piece of work:

Year One were excited to return to school the next day to find out if Slimy Steve had left any more surprises! We explained that, curious to discover the slimy culprit, the headteacher had been closely examining the school CCTV and had spotted some interesting footage of the KS1 playground!


Pupils watched the CCTV and listened to a witness statement from their Reception teacher, who had been shopping when a suspiciously green and spiky looking creature rushed past!

YouTube link

Children then generated adjectives to describe the slimy suspect and created posters to display around school.

Our ‘book hook’ week culminated in children discovering a gift along with another misspelt but decodable note from Slimy Steve. The gift was a copy of Monsters Love Underpants and children recognised some of the familiar characters, such as the slimy Drool Monster, whose pants fall down all the time!

A week of hooking children into the story led to pupils planning and writing their own ‘Monsters love…’ stories. They had some imaginative ideas, such as ‘Monsters love Mars bars’, ‘Monsters love tarantulas’ and (my personal favourite) ‘Monsters love high heels’!

To complement our English work, we planned monster-themed topic lessons on mythical monsters around the world. Starting with the Loch Ness Monster, we looked at spoof images of Nessie throughout history and discussed how they had been made. We looked at more modern spoof images and explored how images can be manipulated using the cropping feature within the Explain Everything iPad app.

Simple instructions for cropping an image using Explain Everything can be found here.

To introduce pupils to email as part of the Computing curriculum, we used a fake email generator website to send pupils an email from ‘Scary Susan’, challenging them to find images of the Loch Ness Monster. They used Google to find pictures and then replied to Scary Susan’s email as a class. Fake email generators can be found quite easily with a Google search.

We spent a Geography lesson investigating the physical and human features of Loch Ness, prompted by a message from Nessie herself!

YouTube link

I used the free iPad app Chatterpix to easily create this video. If accents are not your forte, you may want to ask someone to help you. I am lucky enough to have a mother who does an uncanny Scottish accent! A simple guide for using Chatterpix can be found here. During the lesson, pupils looked at images of Loch Ness and annotated the features, colour-coding the human and physical features.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of our monster topic was Monster Day! Children (and adults) dressed up as monsters and we enjoyed a fun-filled day of monster madness! My colleague revealed her talent for dancing when we created this instructional video for the ‘Monster Bop’ dance. Children watched the video, learnt the dance and then took part in a monster flash mob! You can put your dancing shoes on and enjoy the instructional video here:

YouTube link

The instructional video was made using iMovie and Green Screen by Do Ink. iMovie is one of my favourite apps, as it can be used to create professional movie trailers to introduce lessons. I made this movie for my lesson on mythical monsters around the world during Monster Day:

YouTube link

A simple guide for creating an iMovie trailer can be found here. Children then used Chatterpix, which is very KS1-friendly, to create these clips in role as the mythical monsters. Here is an example of a Siren being brought to life using Chatterpix!

YouTube link

Our final Monster Day activity involved introducing pupils to stop-motion animation. They had lots of fun painting mythical monster habitats and making the monsters with playdough. Pupils worked in pairs to create the following short animations, concentrating on keeping the iPad still and keeping their hands out of shot!

YouTube link

The children were enjoying the topic so much that we decided to prepare for our school trip to the zoo by introducing pupils to some real-life monsters! I used iMovie to create this trailer as a lesson hook.

YouTube link

Children then completed a ‘reading trail’, reading texts on real-life monsters and answering comprehension questions on what they had read. Children enjoy finding the texts, which are displayed around the learning area and working collaboratively to answer the questions. To differentiate the trail, children can be given simpler versions of the texts, or captions to match with pictures.

To see the full reading trail and comprehension questions, visit our blog.

The impact of this pupil-led topic was clearly reflected in the high standard of written work produced by the pupils when asked to apply their learning by writing an information book about real-life monsters. The next day, we asked pupils to record themselves reading their written work aloud using the Book Creator app. This activity enables pupil to edit and improve their own work. To view pupils’ iBooks, visit our blog.

I hope that by sharing our fun-filled topic, I’ve given you some ideas for how to engage your little monsters. Please do follow me on Twitter (@MissKingsley85) and my class account (@ClassMissK) and visit our school blog site www.russellscottblogs.net. For now, I’ll leave you with my little monsters coming face to face with a real-life monster at Blackpool Zoo!

Have you utilised resources to a similar effect? Let us know in the comments!

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