The Big Ugly Monster

By Joe Tyler

Session uses picture book: 'The Big Ugly Monster' by Chris Wormell


Elephant puppet and Ugly Monster puppets.


Introduce the elephant puppet.  Then we shall remind ourselves what philosophy is.  Then we shall try to guess what the story is about as I remove puppets from the bag; happy monster, sad monster, and the little stone rabbit.

Task Question:  Is the monster ugly? Or, Is the stone rabbit the monster’s friend?

Read the story up to the ugly monster page.  Pair everyone up into an A and B. Ask the A’s to stand up and show the B’s what an ugly monster face looks like.  Then ask the B’s to do the same for the A’s.

Pick one of the children and ask them to pull their face again.  Ask the other children, 'Is that an ugly face?', 'Why?'  Then ask a different child to show a beautiful monster face.  Again, ask the children, 'Is that beautiful face?'

Read the rest of the story and then at the end ask, ‘Was the monster ugly?’

Possibly follow up with, ‘What is ugly?’

If ugly is ______, then is the monster ugly?

Nested Question:  

  • If another monster calls him beautiful, is he beautiful? If one person calls him ugly and another calls him beautiful, what is he?  Can you be both beautiful and ugly?  Is ugly/beautiful an opinion or fact?

Use Philosophy Elephant to get controversy going if necessary.  Say, 'the puppet looks very carefully at the big ugly monster and says, "you are beautiful!"'  Is Philosophy Elephant right?

Task Question 2:  Were the monster and the stone rabbit friends?

Possibly follow up with: ‘What is a friend?’

If a friend is______, then are the monster and the stone rabbit friends?

Nested Question:

  • Is something a friend when it plays with you?  Is something a friend if it makes you happy? Does it matter that the stone rabbit is not alive?



Could offer a blank postcard to each child after the session for them to draw what they think ugly looks like, and on the other side to draw what they think beautiful looks like.

Download The Big Ugly Monster