My job as an author going into schools is to inspire a love of READING and WRITING. I like to talk about spelling and grammar and the importance of STRUCTURE and PLANNING when writing a story. Above all, I like show that writing can be FUN and INFORMED. I feed off the children (not literally!) because every class is unique so I tailor all my visits, whether for World Book Day, Book Week or termly workshops. They can include any of the following topics for pre-school, through to reception and up to Year 6, as well as KS3 (+) children. Each individual establishment can choose the correct mix of topics to suit individual class requirements.
TOPICS COVERED INCLUDE:
Where authors get their inspiration from
What’s involved in the publishing process
Writing a story in a day: the planning process, story mountains, mind maps and
the importance of getting sequencing right
The importance of plot
Writing workshops: working in the ICT Suite with flash writing exercises
Writing for a purpose: Journalism. How to write for different newspapers and magazines
The lifecycle of a giant African land snail
IN MORE DETAIL:
inspiration: how Sarah’s family began to write following a strange but happy welcoming present when they moved into a new village of a baby giant African land snail in a tank;
the publishing process: the role of the editor, publisher and illustrator and the importance of the cover design;
a mixture of topics on how to write a story including story planning, mind mapping and sequencing;
lifecycle of a giant African land snail: parts of a snail, what they eat, how long they live. The 3 different kinds of snails. Children can observe a snail on a plastic platform or hold one in their hands. Real-life samples of snail eggs, foodstuffs and, if the time of the year is right, snail ‘front doors’ after hibernation.
NOTE: Worried about snails? Giant African land snails are not dangerous. They do not bite. They do not cause harm or carry disease. Worried about Health & Safety? Take a minute to read the article from Mollusc World below. This article was written in response to our letter seeking clarification on safety issues concerning the handling of giant African land snails.
With Reception and Years 1 & 2 children, Sarah can spend more time talking about, showing and handling the snails and with older children, less time on snails, more on story and book writing topics.
Sarah has worked with more able and talented pupils, children with learning difficulties and a wide range of students in between.
She has an up-to-date certificate through the DBS, is a member of NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education) – through which she has Public Liability Insurance -, UKLA (UK Literacy Association) and IBBY (International Board of Books for Young People). She recently set up Putting Pen to Paper, a highly successful creative writing initiative aimed at Key Stage 2 children, providing a safe and relaxed place for children to come and write outside the school environment.
Here is the response to a letter I sent to Mollusc World in early 2013 on the subject of snail handling safety.
‘Sarah Lucas (Letter, Mollusc World 32:28) is quite right to be concerned that giant African land snails (Achatina spp.) might transmit diseases to humans. Fortunately the risk from laboratory-bred or pet shop snails in this country is negligible, and the simple precaution of washing the hands thoroughly or the use of antibiotic wipes after handling (not just Achatina but any snails or slugs) is probably sufficient to prevent the transmission of bacteria. There is no reason why children (and adults) should not continue to enjoy handling snails.’
Drs. Janet Ridout Sharpe and June Chatfield.
What schools have you visited on author visits with your snails and when did you begin?
‘I began in 2008. A mother suggested the snails and the story behind my writing might be of interest to primary schools. Here’s a list of all the nurseries, schools and colleges I have been to, many of which I visit on a regular basis.’
All Saints School, Tilford • Alton College • Alton School • Anstey Junior School, Alton • Bentley C of E Primary School • Binsted Primary School • Bishop Tufnell Primary School, Reading • Chawton C of E Primary • Cheriton C of E Primary School • Churcher’s College Junior School, Liphook • Edgeborough School • Farnborough Grange Nursery & Infant School • Felpham Primary School, Bognor Regis • Froxfield C of E Primary School • Godalming Infant School • Guru Nanak Sikh Primary VA School, Middlesex • Haslemere Preparatory School • Herne Junior School, Petersfield • Holly Lodge Primary School, Ash Vale • Hollywater School, Bordon • Lavant Primary School, Chichester • Liss Junior School, Major Minors Nursery School and Childcare Centre, Godalming • Manor Junior School, Farnborough • Meonstoke Primary School • Oakwood Preparatory School, Chichester • Rivermead Primary School, Woodley • Robert Piggott Junior School, Wargrave • Rowledge Primary School • Selborne C of E Aided Primary School • Sheet Primary School • St. Mary’s, Chiddingfold • St. Mary’s, Frensham • St.Matthew’s C of E Primary School, Blackmoor • SS Philip and James Primary School, Oxford • St. Mary’s School, Frensham • The Butts Primary School, Alton • Trinity School, Newbury • Victory Primary School, Portsmouth • Warren Park Primary School, Havant • Wootey County Junior School, Alton • Wroxall Primary School, Isle of Wight.