Nederland High students design toys inspired by kindergarteners

Published 12:14 am Tuesday, December 17, 2019

NEDERLAND — Ruffrogs, Gollums, Nightcrawlers, Larrys and Leos came to life Monday at Helena Park Elementary.

Ghouls, goblins and monsters from the imagination of more than three dozen kindergarten students turned from fantasy into reality for a holiday surprise.

In the month of October, three Helena Park kindergarten teachers in Nederland ISD read “Monster Trouble!” by Lane Frederickson.

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Students were instructed to draw a monster from their imagination following the reading. The images were sent to Nederland High School art students, who created a doll in the likeness of their drawings, which Santa Claus presented to the children Monday in the school’s cafeteria.

Raymond, a Helena Park Elementary student, receives his handmade monster ‘Ruffrug’ from Santa on Monday in the cafeteria.

Mathew, a Helena Park Elementary student, receives his handmade monster ‘Gollum’ from Santa and Nederland High School student, Maura Tibodeaux, right.

“I heard of other high schools collaborating with kindergarteners and doing this sort of thing,” said Lynell Smith, NHS art teacher. “We decided this was something we wanted to do. This is our second year doing it and the students absolutely love it. They get really excited when they get the drawings and then they fight over who gets who.”

Sophomore Maura Tibodeaux selected Mathew, a bright-eyed kindergartener who drew an imaginary pet ‘Gollum.’

“When I first heard about the project, I didn’t know how to sew and I thought it was going to be terrible,” she said. “Then when I started making the doll, I realized it was really easy and got super excited about it.”

Tibodeaux said the hardest part was translating the paper drawing into a concrete item that her students would enjoy.

“My drawing not only had one monster, but different monsters,” she said. ‘They were all different shapes and colors. Their eyes were all different, too. So I had to pick the main one and focus on that.”

Leilani receives her handmade monster ‘Diamond.’


Karter, a Helena Park Elementary student, receives her handmade monster ‘Boo.’

Senior Brandon Charlot sewed together ‘Leo,’ a fuzzy purple puppet from the depths of the ocean.

“The doll wasn’t hard, but the background was,” he said. “I was struggling with it, but when I saw the kid’s face, it was worth it. The struggle and the sweat were worth it. He kept coming up to me to say how much he liked it. He didn’t even care that his teacher was telling him to sit down, because he was so excited.”

Brandon said he enjoyed the whole process, especially making the swirling background.

“They gave us a chance to not only put our personality into it, but a child’s perspective, too,” he said.

Diane Gallier, a kindergarten teacher at Helena Park, said the whole collaboration demonstrated creativity and kindness.

“It’s a big thing,” she said. “It not only shows the kids how creative the (high schoolers) are, but it’s a way of kindness for the children. It makes the little ones see that these big high school students are here for them. It makes them feel special.”

Jackson, below, a Helena Park Elementary student, receives his handmade monster from Santa and Nederland High School student Brandon Charlot.

Gallier said receiving the dolls meant a lot to her young students, who played with them immediately after leaving the cafeteria.

“To be able to see their drawing come to life is just priceless,” she said. “When I was telling them about the project, they didn’t really understand how they were going to make those drawings come to life. So when they got those packages, they kept looking at the front and the back, and it was what they drew come to life. It’s just priceless.”