Thursday 18 June 2015

Ten things I learned from taking part in a story making festival for school children

You may have seen my recent post about CWISL's ShoutSouth! 2015 - a festival run by me and a whole lot of other illustrators and writers for 100 children from 10 schools in London. It was my first story making festival experience and this is what I came away with (in no particular order):

1. Kids love learning about making stories and also come with some knowledge of their own - for instance many already knew about the "story mountain" plotting concept.

2. Given half a chance their teachers and their families also love to be involved in making stories. We had a great turn out for the adult writing workshop and for the drawing workshop for younger siblings.

3. I learnt a lot by listening in on workshops from other writers and illustrators. I loved hearing about their books and their work processes. What I heard has given me much to think about.

4. There's nothing like working with a bunch of other adults for a few days to make new friends and reinforce existing friendships.

5. Don't open a bottle of fizzy water during a workshop, especially if it has been shaken up in your bag on the walk to the venue - unless you want to add a bit of comedy to proceedings.

6. Rush hour commuters can get quite grumpy at illustrators carrying large cork board based visual aids on buses. Trains have more space and so you are less likely to whack anyone in the shins with it.

7. It is very easy to get lost on a university campus, especially if you hold your map the wrong way up.

8. Never use drawing pins to attach a background to your cork board based visual aid - they have an unfortunate habit of falling out.

9. Kids love being able to handle visual aids, I was delighted by the way they understood the story mountain and made it their own. I will do this kind of thing again. (Also I love making stuff and don't need much encouragement.)

10. Kids are highly motivated when it comes to making stories and are tremendously creative. It is a joy watch them working and even better to hear or see the results afterwards.

CWISL's next story making festival is ShoutWest! it will be held in Brunel University on 5th and 6th November 2015.

If your primary or secondary school is interested in taking part in future ShoutSouth! or ShoutWest! festivals contact CWISL via the website to find out more.

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