Mythical Beast Creation Using Monsterology

The word myth comes from the Greek word 'mythos' which means 'to tell a story'. Myths are the oldest and most powerful of all story forms, they were usually passed on through spoken word as books had not yet been invented. They often carry an important message for a culture or group, their function was to explain, to teach lessons, and to entertain.

Myths are stories that give people a relationship with the universe, the passing of time, and with their environment. Some myths give the official view of creation, others are a way to explain natural events.

Every culture has its own myths that are centuries old and even now through various mediums the creatures and monsters from myths and legends emerge.

For a certain generation of people the name Ray Harryhausen is synonymous with myths and legends. the mention of his name conjures up many images of wonderful creatures. Ray Harryhausen was a legend, a genius, an artist, a filmmaker, a magician, but more than all of that he was an inspiration. His work has inspired many generations including such luminaries as James Cameron and Steven Spielberg. Harryhausen showed us that even as adults, we could play with monsters and get away with it. Harryhausen created 'Dynamation' (stop motion using silicon figures he created), the technique he used to create such matinee classics such as 'Jason and the Argonauts' and 'Clash of the Titans'.

The amazing scene where Jason battles the Skeletons... when I first saw this I was in awe! This is one of the defining moments of cinema in my opinion.

Using the work of Ray Harryhausen as inspiration, we created a sequence of lesson plans for the 'Myths and Legends' unit of Literacy work. We also used the wonderful book 'Monsterology' to ground the work in information text style writing.

The Monsterology book is fascinating, it presents the mythical beasts and creatures in an information book form.

The layout of the pages is interesting and there are often flaps, swatches of materials which are the 'skin' of the animal and maps of where they live.

Below are examples of work achieved in year 6 using this sequence of lesson plans. Also in my year 2 class we modified the lesson plans and achieved great results creating an underwater mythical beast.  To link with our 'Flotsam/Beside the Sea' lesson plans (check out the links below to go to those lesson plans and examples of work created).