September School Visits

Can I Help You With That? by helenmoss
Storm loves to help sweep up the Autumn leaves
II know some people dread going back to school but I've always loved September and the start of a new school term. It's a time for new pencil cases and shiny notebooks and good resolutions (this term I will  do all my homework the day I get it, share my sweets and wake up early to practise cello before breakfast every day; average time before resolution broken = 2.4 days). Each day, walking home from school, more and more leaves have fallen from the leaves. The first fluttering few soon pile up in drifts just waiting to be scattered by a foot clad in a conker-shiny new-term shoe.

For me, September and school go together like toast and marmite.

That's why I was so delighted to pack my bags and head off on a September school visit tour.

First stop was Rosendale Primary School in West Dulwich, London, to take part in their brilliant week long "mini-Hay Festival".  I chatted to the whole of KS2 in assembly and then ran creative writing workshops with the four Year Five classes for the rest of the day.

Talking to the KS2 Assembly at Rosendale Primary - hope you can hear me at the back?

What a wonderful day it was! Everyone was so welcoming and enthusiastic about reading and writing and the children were full of spectacular ideas (including coming up with the ruthless Breakfast Gang who specialise in stealing breakfast foods - I'm looking forward to reading the full mystery if you ever write it down!)

Spin the Shmoooshaliser three times . . .

... and take your pick
Thank you to the lovely Adriana and Richard from Pea Green Boat Books for organising the event and for looking after me all day, and to all the teachers for letting me cause chaos in their classroom (especially the brave teacher in the first session who had to climb on the desk to fix "The Thing" when the projector stopped working five minutes in). It was also a pleasure to meet the lovely Chitra Soundar who was there keeping the younger children enthralled with her stories.

After school was a book fair so I got to meet lots of the parents too. A fabulous day all round.

The following day I headed west to Kenyngton Manor Primary School in Sunbury on Thames. Again I started with the KS2 Assembly, and then ran four workshops - this time with Years 3 to 6.

Note how I picked my outfit to match the school uniform!

Meet Drift's stunt double, Scruffy!

I think it must have been my lucky week, because I found myself in an another absolutely delightful school, where everyone - staff and children alike - were welcoming and enthusiastic. I was made to feel like a very priveleged and special guest for the entire day. Not only that, but the entire KS2 had been reading Adventure Island books as their class reader, and had based all kinds of work on them. The children (and teachers) knew more about Emily, Jack, Scott and Drift's adventures than I did!

Just look at this fabulous wall display featuring cliffs, caves, castle and Gemini the rowing boat.

I ran a new workshop, based on writing "dangerous" adventure scenes - putting characters in spooky settings, making them jump out of their skins with "yikes moments." We had some deliciously creepy settings (a butchers' shop at night, an abandoned graveyard . . .) and some great suggestions for scary feelings (clenching stomachs, eyebrow hair standing on end,  stampeding hearts. . . . ) Well done everyone, for some truly perilous ideas!

A fabulous picture of Drift and Emily in The Mystery of the Dinosaur Discovery. For more examples of the childrens' work see the Art Gallery page

Thank you to every one at Kenygnton Manor School for making my day so perfect. Click here to read a lovely report of the day by two Year Six Pupils, Demi-Liegh and Megan.

In the library at Kenyngton Manor School