With the help of the story
bag (and perhaps a modest
flying carpet) all ages get to work on imagining characters and putting into words what they might see hear, touch and feel in situations they set up. Later they write up their ideas in a follow-up session with me on hand, if that's scheduled, or with their teacher. With older students the focus is on creating characters and settings that feel real and engage the writer and reader without spelling everything out...
The story bag is packed
with objects (a mix of the
strange and the everyday},
that trigger ideas for stories and characters. I work with junior or senior school students and there are always lots of ideas! Some get more fully developed than others. The main thing is to give the chance to handle things that fire the imagination and share what comes out of it. Tips: Class-size groups are better than larger ones. And it's great to build in time afterwards for children to write and share their stories.
Something Else workshops
"I felt compelled to write to you immediately as we had such a wonderful day today! The impact on our children was literally amazing - I have never seen them so enthusiastic about writing. I was amazed about how you could be such a calming influence and yet so inspirational at the same time." [Year 5 visit]
There's a list of recent visits below. I live in London (and can work from Cornwall as well).
Feedback from visits
Story bag sessions
(with story bag/magic carpet)
Where do I visit?
Able Writers' Days
Working with a group of children is a real delight. No two sessions are the same. It can be a lively free-the-imagination ideas-generating encounter, a more sustained session on making and writing stories, or a read-aloud/slide show /Q & A visit (with the focus on Something Else, other picture books, or longer stories). I do – and enjoy – all of these. I'm open to new ideas and suggestions too.
"The quality of their writing, particularly my hard-to-motivate boys, is excellent.
I would say that for some of those children this is the best piece of writing they have produced all term. I will be doing my very best to build upon it!" [Year 2 visit]
"The children have
been so enthusiastic
about their writing. I
gave my class some more time
to finish their writing this afternoon, as they requested, and they were working in self-imposed silence - this is almost unheard of for Year 2 in the afternoon!" [KS1 visit]
PS: Pirates and wolf are by Chris Riddell. Click on an illustration to see the books where they appear.
I spend the day with a keen writers from several schools in an area, giving them the chance to try out mini writing assignments: creating villains and heroes, starting a ghost story, mocking up a title page, for example. Contact Authors Abroad to find out more about these workshops.
Cowley St Laurence
Wellington Primary, Hounslow
International Book Day, Dhubai
Upwell, West Norfolk
Hale Primary, New Forest Downside, Epsom
Palmers Green HS
Annemount Pre Prep, NW3
Grove Infants, Hemel Hempstead
Eveline Day School, Tooting
Rosedale College, Hillingdon
Durston House, Ealing
Galley Hill, Hemel Hempstead
University of Wales, Carmarthen
Hoebridge School, Woking
Latchmere School, Kingston
Wellington Primary, Hounslow
Thorpe School, Egham
Sherwood School, Merton
St Thomas More, Bexleyheath
Lambrook School, Ascot
St James, Weybridge
Belswains, Hemel Hempsted
Lambrook School, nr Ascot
The Vineyard, Richmond
St Thomas, W10
Carr Mill Primary, St Helen's
Combe Bank, Sevenoaks
Chislet Primary, Canterbury
St Michael's, Sandhurst
Qatar Academy, Doha
"The staff and children
really enjoyed your visit and
the writng that the children did after was great. So they were inspired! "
Membership of Society of Authors (CWIG group)
National Association of Writers in Education
PEN English branch
"The writing the children produced was so imaginative ...
you have brought ideas and
imagination out in them that I
didn't know they possessed" [Year 5 visit]
"An excellent visit to the classroom with perfectly pitched resources and interaction that had the children (and Staff!) hooked."
I tell the story alongside a slide
show, pausing to discuss the scenes
in depth. Children share ideas on how
the creatures might be feeling, and
what they might do themselves in
that situation. We talk about how I
came to write the story and where ideas for stories
come from. This session lasts 25-40 minutes, and because it's about sharing ideas rather than handling things, it works with larger groups than the story bag workshops.
"[My daughter] came home so enthusiastic about her writing. It is not easy to engage teens but Kathryn did and lit up such enthusiasm in her for the written word."
Author in Residence
I enjoy working with schools (primary and secondary) over a longer period as author in residence. Most recent visit: Qatar Academy, Doha.