SNOW HILL — Worcester County Public Schools took part in a new kind of collaboration this spring when students from three Snow Hill area schools worked together on a project called “Monsters Inside.”
“It touched probably 60 students countywide,” said Snow Hill Elementary School Art Teacher Cindy Sullivan.
Monsters Inside started with Sullivan’s class where students read books by Mercer Mayer, a prolific author famous for his monster stories and illustrations. Sullivan’s students were then asked to create drawings based on the monsters they had read about. Those drawings put an emphasis on using shapes and colors effectively as well as knowing the difference between primary and secondary colors.
“So I was introducing geometric and organic shapes to them and also painting skills,” said Sullivan.
Students then named their monsters and came up with a backstory including where the monster was from and what kind of special powers it had. This led to monsters like Strawberry, Donut and Crazy Monster. While most came from areas as exotic as their names, Donut at least is a local, supposedly hailing from Snow Hill.
After the 2D monster drawings were finished, they were brought to life by art students at Snow Hill High School’s (SHHS) after school program.
“With the pictures that they drew, we mapped out what they would look like smaller, like the size of a stuffed animal,” said SHHS student Samantha Dykes.
The high school students also did all of the detail work, including adding hair, eyes, appendages, or any other touches the students had on their drawings that personalized their monsters. Taking the images from the paper and making them into actual stuffed monsters was a lot of fun, according to Dykes.
“It was really rewarding to see the beginning and the drawing compared to how it looked at the end,” she said.
After being built at SHHS, the monsters were taken to Worcester Technical High School’s (WTHS) Interactive Media Production class. Students there were responsible for branding the monsters as if they were products about to hit the shelves in stores. This meant designing packaging and graphics for each monster that meshed with its shape and backstory.
Molly Wooten, a Stephen Decatur High School student who also attends WTHS, admitted that her class was intimidated by the scope of the project at first.
“When we first saw the project, I didn’t think it would be that big of a success or if we were going to finish it on time,” she said. “It was all of those worries, I guess. But when we were making it we kind of just all came together and it came out great.”
The project covered a variety of skills starting at the elementary level with shapes and colors and going all the way to high school with the transition of 2D to 3D and basic principles of marketing.
“I’m always intrigued by taking 2D art and turning it into 3D,” said Sullivan.
The partnership also leaned heavily on developing skills based around the “Common Core” standards, which are becoming the norm nationwide. Creating the projects used Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills and contributors to the project relied on critical thinking and time management as well as creativity.
“We wanted a collaborative, creative project that enhanced our core curriculum and our college and career readiness across the county,” said Sullivan.
A project stretching across three schools and incorporating so many different elements has “never happened before,” said Sullivan.