Using StoryMonsters In the Classroom

Ways to use Story Monsters Ink in the Classroom

by Larissa Juliano

What is already available at your fingertips?

Website and Feature Articles

Explore the Story Monsters website! The Story Monsters team is constantly updating their site with so many features and tools for teachers/students to access on their own. Issues are archived for easy access to the magazine contents and contests, opportunities for kids to publish their own work, and a teaching guide that goes along with each issue are always up to date! Questions in the teaching guide can be modified depending on the child’s age- use your teaching experience and love of literature to make Story Monsters come alive in the hands of your students!

Also…When you receive your magazine, check out the features in the Table of Contents. There are usually 1-2 articles that reference specific lessons and ideas for teachers to implement in their classroom. Use the table of contents and the Story Monsters website as your guide as you determine lesson ideas for your child/student pertinent to that issue!

Below are additional ideas that can be used for students of pretty much any age! They have been generally organized by age range but use your teaching experience and instincts to modify for your classroom and or/child.

*Idea for any age

Primary Elementary

Which Character?

Look through the book reviews and find all the books with animal characters, human characters, fantasy characters etc. *

The W Questions

Read a story about friendship and ask the students what makes us really know and connect with someone to have a friendship. Introduce the “W” questions (Why, Where, What, When, Who) and have examples of these questions already made for student picking.  Once a question is picked, students can address another friend in the class- 

For example:

Where do you live?

What is your favorite food?

Why do you like playing ______?

When do you go to bed? When is your birthday?

Who is someone you like reading books with?

 Talk about how the W questions can really generate questions and interest in one another and help  us listen to what is important to people. As a class, create ‘W’ questions for Story Monster and submit to the magazine for a possible response! Look through the website and magazine ahead of time to get ideas and additional pictures of this special Reading Mascot! *

Author Websites

Visit three (or more!) author’s websites that you/student saw in the magazine…Discuss what makes their website unique and special! How is the website organized? What special features/resources/printables are available to you? Coloring pages? More books to order? Does the author have upcoming books for pre-order? What else can you find out about their lives from their website? Is there a space to write the author an e-mail? Story Monsters Ink has dozens of author’s website listed in every single issue. 

Which ones catch your interest? Is there enough interest to contact them for a school visit?

Conrad and KWL

Do a KWL with the class prior to reading the topic featured in Conrad’s Classroom- read the article, add to your chart/discuss – then look up the referenced resources pertaining to that topic!  *

Library Visit

Bring Story Monsters Ink to the library and see if you/your student can check out three books that are on the summer reading or review list! *

Reading Buddy

Have your student draw a picture of them and Story Monster reading a book together! They can write about their favorite book/topics and send it to the magazine for a possible feature! Check out the website for the most current writing and coloring contests!

Upper Elementary/Middle School

Review Yay or Nay?

Check out 5 of the books reviewed in the magazine and read them!

Do you agree with the review or not? *

Kids Can Publish

Visit StoryMonsters.com and click on Kids Can Publish to submit your work.

Monthly writing opportunities featured on the Story Monsters website!

Author’s Purpose

Discuss with a partner/class the ‘gist’ of each feature story. The gist is what the article was mostly about. What was the author’s purpose? (To entertain, persuade, inform) How did you decide their purpose? Are their key words in the article? Was it in an interview format? Did the interviewee feel extra passionate about certain issues? Find examples of articles that are strongly persuasive articles or articles that are strictly to entertain. What style of writing/topic do you prefer writing? How can this feature story inspire you into writing something you are passionate to entertain, inform, or persuade readers? *

Non-Fiction Scavenger Hunt

Grab different non-fiction materials for students to explore- newspapers, brochures, flyers, non-fiction books, advertisements, and magazines (Story Monsters Ink of course!) Explicitly teach what non-fiction text features are (they are to non-fiction what story elements are to fiction!) and what purpose each one serves (this can be open-ended!)  Text feature examples: captions, table of contents, headings, photographs, quotation marks, bold words, graphs, charts, glossary, index, and more.

Focus in on Story Monsters Ink Magazine for a high interest resource to begin a non-fiction feature scavenger hunt (prep ahead of time).

Essential Question:

How do they help you navigate through the magazine and find what you are looking for? What purpose do they serve the reader?

Genre Study

Have a ‘genre’ discussion with students (i.e: fantasy, mystery, humor, etc). Grab examples of each genre from your school library and look for key words/pictures that signify what genre it belongs to. Discuss why some authors may prefer to write mystery stories versus animal stories. Work with a partner to determine what genre YOU like. Book Pass Jigsaw Discussion: Have books from multiple genres scattered on tables through your working space with accompanying chart paper next to it.  When the music stops, look through the book and write down your thoughts about things you notice – key words on the back, characters appearances/expressions, color choice, etc.

(Model this first!)

Next…Based on the description of books in the Reading Guide and Book Reviews- ask students to look through a Story Monsters Ink issue to make a prediction about what genre they belong to. Look them up online or in the library afterwards to see if you are correct! Do some fit into multiple genres?

This can take several days or weeks, depending on how long you would like to stretch your genre study! *

Essential Question: Look for key words in the book description- what makes you think it is a __________  book? Is it right there in the text or do you have to make inferences?

Pick their Brain!

Read the interview of the featured author/celebrity. What was their inspiration for writing or helping people out in some way? Is there family life mentioned? Why do you think Story Monsters decided to feature them in an article? Discuss the interview and something new and inspiring you learned from the interviewee. What surprised you? Did you wish they talked more about a different topic? Write down three questions your class would like to ask and them to Story Monsters for a possible response! (Note: see if the featured author/celebrity has a website!)

Middle School

Author Study Stations

Has your class embarked on an author study? What books have been ultra popular in your classroom? Display these in groups in your class- discuss the appeal of the books and plot line. Have students walk around to different station and answer questions(on a clipboard or large chart paper) such as:

  • Explore the author’s website (laptop or interactive whiteboard)
  • Popular characters in the series and their characteristics (add a drawing component for your artistic students)
  • Favorite stories by this author and why (one to two sentences maximum!)
  • Write a letter to Story Monsters persuading them to interview this author! (Lesson on letter writing prior is helpful)

Note: For additional author studies, challenge your class to choose ones that may not be as well known – expand those interests and look for ideas in Story Monsters for Author Studies as well!

Story Monster Story Starter

Finish this story starter for a chance to be featured in “Kids Can Publish!” * 

High School 

Graphic Novel

Create a graphic novel with Story Monster in a dystopian adventure. Find your favorite graphic novels and create some kind of monster world universe that follows a similar premise to your inspirations in these books. Find graphic novel paper already available online to get started…

Where is Story Monster?

Research the places where Story Monster is having an adventure! 

Magazine Graphic Design

Study the graphic design of Story Monsters Ink’s layout. 

What are the ten basic elements of design? Look through an issue of Story Monsters and consider the following:

Line, Color, Shape, Space, Texture, Typography, Scale (size), Dominance and Emphasis, Balance, Harmony 

Be a Book Reviewer

Read the book reviews and consider submitting a sample review for consideration