Monsters invade first grade class at Lincoln Trail Elementary

Art students make the imagination of elementary students come to life.

Dailey Harris

Monsters Inc., Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. These childhood cartoons bring back memories of stacks of white papers, crayons, and endless drawings of your monster friends. Whitney Carpenter’s Art II class revamped monster drawings from Alana Edward’s first grade class (at Lincoln Trail Elementary School) into life-like sculptures.

This project all began with a simple discovery on Pinterest by Carpenter.

“I saw the project on Pinterest a while back, and I thought it was neat,” she said. ”It was a little bit different on Pinterest where this kid had sent the artwork to an artist, and the artist created the monster more professionally, so I thought that was something we [art students] could do.”

Carpenter had to find enough art students at Central to complete four 1st grade classes’ art projects. She chose her Art II class and Art Club, Antonio Menendez’s art class, and other students who wanted to complete an individual project, to help create sculptures, drawings, and paintings for Lincoln Trail’s entire first-grade class.

I really like it a lot. I named her Haley.”

— Mauve

The project started with art students spending countless classes designing and making their monster sculpture. According to sophomore Anna Turlington, the inspiration for her first grader’s sculpture came from her artist’s basic drawing and anything she found around the classroom.

“I decided to do that [monster] because it’s based on interpretation of the children’s drawings,” she said. “It was cool to look at a plastic bag and to think ‘Oh, I can use this to shape it into the head, or legs, or the body. I thought that was fun.”

Once the students arrived at Lincoln Trail, the Art students met their kids. According to senior Brianna Utley, her student, Roxy, was exhilarated to see her monster.

“She was excited, and she was the most excited in the class,” she said. “Whenever I arrived at the classroom, the art teacher pointed her out to receive the first monster because she had been talking about it since the students first heard about it.”

My favorite part about my monster is that it’s really creative.”

— Roxy

When Turlington met the creator of her monster, Elijah, he had a fun time playing and describing his monster to her.

“He was looking around the room, and I knew who he was because they all had nametags. He was looking around the room, and when he saw my monster, his face instantly lit up,” she said. “He was playing with it and telling me all about it. He told me his name was Hairy Head, and he liked to jump on people.”

After completing this project, Carpenter was surprised at her student’s reactions when meeting the kids.

I like it sooooo much!”

— Jazzy

”It was precious. You would have never  thought that the high school kids were nervous about meeting a first grader,” she said. “My class was very nervous that the elementary school kid wouldn’t like their project or that they didn’t do justice to their monster.”

According to Edwards, the elementary students really enjoyed having the “bigger kids” create their projects for them and she is grateful for Carpenter’s art students because of their hard work.

“They were so excited before and after the event,” she said. “They couldn’t believe that a high school student would want to make something for them.  They were doubly excited that they got to keep it.  They are now in the display case and have garnered a lot of attention. I appreciate Mrs. Carpenter and all her students for their hard work and kindness.”

Edwards also thanks Carpenter for taking time to make this project happen. Reflecting on the project, Carpenter says this project has gained much attention, especially from other schools.

“I essentially created a monster by doing the monster project because it turned out so well that now more people want to do it,” she said. “I think the next day after it was seen on social media I had other art teachers and parents of other schools message and email me that they were upset we chose Lincoln Trail and not their school. The art teachers were upset that they didn’t get to me sooner because of how good it was.”

Carpenter hopes that all students who created a project can visit with their elementary school artists before the end of the school year.

“I want them all to meet their little kid, and I want the little kids to meet their high school kid,” she said. “120 kids leaving school to go to an elementary school is very difficult.”

One thing Carpenter hopes to change for future projects is to have all classes use the same medium of art. After the Monsters Project first run, she believes this project is more of a life lesson than an academic lesson.

“It’s an act of kindness on their part because they put all this work and time, they put their heart and soul into this, and they gave it up to the little kid,” Carpenter said.

I like my monster because it has spiky hands and spiky horns.”

— Marcus