PicaSsO MoNstERs!

I have been waiting a full year to post this project! Last year, I had to document all of the steps and by the time I did that, it was too late to blog about it. This is one of my second graders' favorite projects and it was adapted from a lesson that has been floating around the net for awhile. In that lesson, the kids all made witches, but I thought my kids would like more variety, so I came up with this.

Materials: Info (books, visuals, videos) about Pablo Picasso, construction paper in all colors, scissors, glue, scissors, black marker, patterns for heads (see below), masking tape, pencils, variety of items for decorating (google eyes, glitter, pipe cleaners, etc.), metallic markers

Art History: Discuss Pablo Picasso and share various examples of his cubist portraits. I show the video Dropping In On Picasso.


Step 1- The Head
Hand out patterns for the monster heads, I have 4 different patterns that I hand out to each table. We discuss which shape head would make each type of monster (squared off top for Frankenstein, etc.)
Have the kids choose 2 different colored pieces of 9" X 12" construction paper and then trace their head shape on each paper and cut out.

They need 2 of the same head!

I then demonstrate how to split the head down the middle so that we can show our faces from two different perspectives.

Begin at the forehead- middle of the top of one head shape.

Next comes the nose shape. Be sure to tell the kids to make it big! At this point, they should be more than half way down the face or else the chin will be HUGE. I often show them "Mr. Wrong" and draw it incorrectly so they see what NOT to do.

Add the chin.

Cut on the line to split the head in half.

Students will glue the piece with the nose and keep the scrap piece for later.

Using the piece that has the nose, glue it to the other head shape, lining them up carefully.

Step 2- The Neck

Using the remaining scrap from the head, draw a large neck shape and cut out.

Add some glue to the top edge and lay the head on top.

They should have a rounded neck as shown.

Step 3- The Face

Hand out 2 scraps of white paper and have students draw one eye shape that is facing forward (like a football) and one eye that is facing sideways (like an ice cream cone.) Cut them out.

Have students glue the eyes on as shown, making sure that one side of the face is looking forward and the other is in profile.

Offer a variety of colored paper scraps for the eyes. Students choose 2 of the same color.

I tell my students that they need to draw one circular iris and one oval shaped iris on their colored paper. They are told to make these shapes BIG- they can always be trimmed later. Glue the circle to the eye looking forward and the oval to the eye in profile. I tell them that they are adding the scoop of ice cream to the cone. It works!

For the mouth, they will need a scrap of red or pink paper and a scrap of black.

On the black paper, the students draw a large potato shape.

The mouths of our monsters will be open, as if they are yelling.

Glue the black shape on to the red/pink paper scrap.

"Bubble cut" around the black paper, leaving a little of the red/pink paper showing.

These are the lips of the monster.

Glue the mouth into place.

Hand out a strip of white paper to the students.

Cut small rectangles to make the monster's teeth and glue along the inside edge of the mouth.

Some of my students made fangs and I let that slide!

Next up- the cheeks. I had students choose 2 squares (the same color) of construction paper.

They stacked their papers, drew a large circle, and cut them out to make 2 cheeks.

Glue them on the cheeks, as seen. I told them it was ok to have one cheek hanging over the edge, rather than have it covering the nose.

Step 4- The Shoulders & Background

I have a variety of construction paper laid out for the kids. They choose one piece of 12" X 18" paper (in Halloween type colors) for the background and one 9" X 12" paper for their monster's shoulders. They need to think about this- what color would their type of monster wear? What color would show up best as a background?

The shoulders of the monster will be made from the smaller paper. Lay it out horizontally and draw an arc from one corner to the other, as seen below.

This piece gets glued to the larger piece of construction paper, along the bottom, as shown below.

Next, add the monster, making sure the neck is on top of the shoulders slightly.

Don't worry if the head extends beyond the top of the background paper.

Some kids' work in progress:

Step 5- Outline

Using a black marker, outline all of the facial features and add pupils to the eyes. We also added swirls to the cheeks and scars. Eye brows may be added as well. Demonstrate how the placement of the brows can show different emotions.

Step 6- Extend the Background

Flip the monsters over and tape another piece of construction paper to the top of the background. This will allow more room for the kids to decorate the sky.

Extended paper.

I have given you the basics for making the monsters.

Now the really fun part begins- adding all of the costumes, backgrounds, and other details.

Yes, we used glitter for this project.

I know some teachers hate glitter, but for Halloween projects, I think it is appropriate!

I found these mini pom-poms that made really cool warts.

We love this iridescent paper to make the moons.

Aliens added stars, planets, antenna, and spaceships.

Frankensteins added hair, coats, and bolts.

Witches added hats, buckles, and pipe cleaner hair.

Werewolves added ears, claws, and full moons.

Some kids came up with their own creatures, like this pumpkinhead.

Vampires added capes and hair.

Everyone added bats or ghosts in the sky, moons, and glittery stars.

They also used silvery pens to add some detail to the costumes.

I hope your kids have as much fun with this project as mine did.

They can get REALLY creative with these!

View more of our creepy monsters at Artsonia


  1. incredible! what fun this is, I am about 50 years since 2nd grade and I can't wait to make these myself. love your blog, thank you so much for sharing.

  2. So terrific! Thanks for this great tutorial, I'll definitely try it once in one of my classes.

  3. What a fantastic tutorial!! This is definitely on my "to-do" list. What a fun project for Halloween. Thanks!

  4. Oh my gosh! What a wonderful and detailed lesson! I may have to prepare this as a lesson for when I am gone to conference in a month. You rock!

  5. I love this! I'm impressed your 2nd graders did such a good job! I think I might try it with 3rd!

  6. I am totally doing this with 2nd grade. How create to tie in Picasso!

  7. This is awesome! I usually do "Picasso Portraits" in second grade, so this will be a good/fun review for my third graders! Thanks for a great tutorial!

  8. Not only do I love this, but I understand cubism a little better, too!

  9. I am going to do this project next week. I am very excited. Thank-you so much for sharing! Your blog is very inspiring.

  10. Oh this is soooo brilliant! I have to try it with my kids.
    Check out my blog as well, I'm similarly named! Picasso's Basement!


  11. fun! i've done the picasso face lesson but this looks way more fun! what a great idea to make monsters! and just in time for halloween!
    i'm going to give it a try with my class today. check out my blog to see how we did!

    p.s. i linked to your site for a hundertwasser project we did. thanks for that lesson too!

  12. What a fabulous project! I am an Art teacher who LOVES glitter and use it alot in projects.

  13. I really enjoy all of your pictures! It makes following the process so easy! And I agree, I'm an art teacher who also loves glitter!

  14. HI, I LOVE how detailed this lesson is. thank you so much! I'm wondering how big the monster head patterns are? Can 2 fit on a 9 x 12 piece of paper? Thanks!

  15. Yes, the heads fit on 9 X 12 paper. Hope you have fun making these with your kiddos!


  16. I really love that ! A good idea, thank you !

  17. This post is really incredible, one of the most helpful I have ever read, indeed.

  18. Hello, do you by any chance have the head shape templates for download? Thanks!

  19. Ooh- good idea! I don't currently have the templates online, but I will work on that right now!

    1. Hello Mrs. Picasso Pam Cary Sub Art Teacher at Defiance Elementary School Defiance, Ohio. Love you monster project. We are using Monsters Inc. as the theme for right to read week.
      Would love to have your templates if you have them on line. Any other ideas if you want to share. Pam

  20. love so much your monster. I am kid painter

  21. Wow Great Post by author Pablo Picasso you can visit here for best Pablo Picasso.


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