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Back To School

April 24th, 2020

World Book Day was very exciting for me. Through my publisher I was invited to a local primary school in Derbyshire to lead a series of half-hour workshops for all the year groups. I was thrilled by the opportunity as I love running workshops and I have never been part of a World Book Day before!

The first thing I had to consider was updating my DBS Check. Ideally my mind would be at ease if I could have gotten an enhanced DBS which covers everything.  However, as a self-employed writer you can only get a basic check which is £23. You can’t ask yourself some of the questions on more enhanced checks which is why you can’t get one. I have been advised that a basic check is sufficient as usually there is someone on hand to help with the workshop anyway, so that was one less worry!

The next thing I had to consider was each group’s learning ability (alongside what I would do in just half an hour). The groups I was teaching ranged from nursery to year six. My recently published book Yancy Yellowhammer is suitable for the younger years but the older ones might have found it a bit juvenile. For them, I drew inspiration from a Derbyshire folktale I discovered when I visited Buxton museum last year. Two sheep were sold down to a farmer in Kent; the sheep didn’t like their new farm so they walked all the way back home! This tale is very open as to the main details so I got them to create titles, characterisations and explore the five senses to inspire them with what could have happened along the way. The interest in this story was high with it being close to home and the debates on whether it was true or not were very intelligent; even if it was agreed that the sheep weren’t.

For the younger groups I used my book and its characters in various different ways. For the nursery children I supplied them with some giant letters that spelled out Yancy to colour and decorate with things you would find in the woods. This went up proudly in their classroom so they can look at it and take inspiration from the things they had drawn. The year two group had the task of thinking about what they’d do if they were a woodland creature for a day. The children had fun with this; with those choosing birds particularly enjoying pooping on the heads of people who had been mean to them.

For my first all day visit, I was proud of everything I had achieved. I was so please that I had been able to fill the children with curiosity and creativity. I would recommend a school visit to any author as children can bring inspiration as well as insight into who reads your books and how.

 

Alexandra is an author-actor who lives in Derbyshire with her family. She loves expressing herself through different creative mediums and enjoys running community based workshops in writing and drama where she can.

 

 

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