Creative Writing Workshops in Schools
My aim in giving workshops is to inspire and build confidence in children. I want them to experience the freedom and joy that creative writing offers. I also believe writing can be a great tool in improving mental health – particularly for imaginative children who experience anxiety.
The following workshops are particularly suited to 2nd - 6th classes in Primary Schools.
MAGICAL REALISM WORKSHOP
1) My magical realism workshop is very popular. In the first part of this session, the group learns how to create a character and make up a magical world (think Hogwarts and Narnia). The class then plots the story of the group character traveling to the magical world.
During the second part of the session (after the break) each child creates their own character, their own magical world and writes a story about that character visiting this world through a magic portal. This workshop covers four essential skills of fiction writing: character creation, setting the scene, beginning a story and plot.
CHARACTER WITH A SECRET OR PROBLEM
2) This workshop centres around a character with a problem or secret.
In the first part of this session, the group learns how to create a character who faces a problem or challenge. The class then plots the story of this group character overcoming their problem.
During the second part of the session (after the break) each child creates their own character with a problem or secret and writes a story about that character overcoming their difficulty. This workshop covers four essential skills of fiction writing: character creation, showing not telling, beginning a story and plot.
TIME TRAVEL STORY WRITING WORKSHOP
3) I offer a Time Travel writing workshop that explores characters slipping through time. In the first part of the session, the group learns how to prepare a setting in the past or the future. Next the class creates a character who will travel to that time setting. The group then plots the story together as an example before each child works on their own plot and story.
During the second part of the Time Travel Story Writing Workshop (after the break) each child creates their own character, their own setting in the past or future and writes a story about that character slipping through time. This workshop covers four essential skills of fiction writing: character creation, beginning a story, setting the scene (research) and plot.
Each of the above workshops take about two hours (not including a break). The children need a break in the middle to have a run around outside. At the end of the session I allow time for children to read their stories aloud. This allows me to give feedback and encouragement. Most children will not have their stories finished within the allotted time, however they will have their story preparation completed and the beginning of a story written. I strongly suggest that their teacher devotes more class time (up to one hour) for the children to complete their stories at another time (the sooner the better so that the children retain their enthusiasm for their stories). I can return for a follow up session if required to listen to stories and give further feedback.
ALTERNATIVE WRITING TOPICS
You may prefer choose your own writing topics for a workshop. Here is a selection of topics I present:
- 1. Character Creation - the class makes up a group character together and then each child creates their own character to put into a story.
- 2. Hooking the reader with a gripping opening paragraph - the class explores and discusses the different ways to begin a story. This topic works well in conjunction with the above topic Character Creation.
- 3. Showing Character through dialogue (including how to layout and punctuate dialogue).
- 4. Showing Character through Action - This handles the important skill of showing and not telling in a story.
- 5. Telling a ‘One Moment’ story about a key moment in the character’s life. It includes setting the scene and showing not telling. (These stories tend to be successful in writing competitions!)
- 6. Plotting a story - this topic works well in conjunction with Character Creation.
- 7. Ending a story
- 8. Depending on the group and topic, I can cover one/ two of the above topics in a 1.5 hour session, or two/three topics in a 2 hour session.
DATES AND TIMES
The best days for me to visit schools are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I am available during the academic year September - June.
The cost of the workshop depends on the number of students in the group and the distance I need to travel. I teach groups of one class size or larger groups of two, three or even four classes together. For very large groups I need a large room such as the school hall.
For every group size I need the class teachers to help assist with looking over shoulders, dispersing hand outs etc. Hopefully the teachers will learn from the session and can apply the material to future classes. Teachers can also swap my notes with each other.
Testimonial from St. Helen's School Portmarnock: "Megan really engaged the children’s imagination. Superbly stimulating leading to amazing creativity in the children’s writing." March 2018