Author & Writing Workshops for Children, Teens & Adults
I have presented sessions on my books and writing at a range of Writer’s festivals and conferences. I also love doing workshops with kids and adults. If you'd like me to present at a festival, deliver a workshop or come to your school, please contact me here.
Here are just a few of the workshops on offer:
Workshops for kids
"Come and climb up my moonbeam - and create your own picture book!"
This workshop looks at different types of picture books – from classics to humorous tales – gathering inspiration and understanding about what makes a picture book successful. Next, fun creative writing exercises and a guided visualization with music help awaken the story telling imagination. Then kids are ready to work on their own book using a story map and story board to develop the text and images.
"Come slide down a moonbeam and explore different ways of seeing!"
One night Loni is woken by "the biggest, roundest yellowest moon he had ever seen." As he climbs up the moonbeam Loni discovers “the difference between seeing by the sunlight, which shines on the outside of things, and seeing by the moonlight, which shines on the inside of things, into their heart” (Loni and the Moon- Premier’s Reading List Lothian Books 2003). The illustrations themselves demonstrate different ways of seeing as the pictures change from the soft muted tones of moonlight to the bright colors of morning sun. In this workshop children will explore seeing beyond the surface and into the inside of things. Then using special pencils that change into watercolours they will be invited to create their own image showing the inside of things as well as their outside.
"Diving into the depths with Noah and the ark" – exploring the different layers of a story
The well known story of Noah and the ark is like a never ending pass the parcel game; each time you unwrap a layer of meaning there is another layer underneath, ready to be unwrapped. Often retold sweetly for children (with cute pictures of the animals marching two by two) this story is not as simple as it appears. Whilst unwrapping the layers as we play pass the parcel, we will explore some big questions such as: What does it really mean to be a good person? What has looking after thousands of animals got to do with it? And could it be that Noah’s ark is actually a symbol for 21st century social justice? Using the new ideas they have discovered kids will be invited to create their own page of an alternative Noah and the ark picture book!
"Jacob – struggling in the Third Space" - exploring conflicts in identity
The novella “Jacob – a world of faces” is part of The Third Space series (Garratt Publishing - 2014) a unique project designed to develop Intercultural Understanding in response to the Australian Curriculum’s inclusion of diversity competence.
Jacob is the story of a boy struggling when the different parts of his identity clash, when he stumbles upon white supremacy and anti-Semitism on the Internet and when stereotypes threaten his friendships with his mates. We will explore the idea that we all have multiple parts of our identity, and as such our understanding of the other relies on rejecting simplistic stereotypes.
Nothing happens unless first we dream
Dreams are important –they give us a vision of how things could be. But what happens to people who get so caught up in their own dreams they ignore everything else around them? Using the dramatic story of the biblical Joseph (and its six dreams), we will explore the fortune of a young man whose life changes from being thrown in a pit and a prison to becoming prime minister of Egypt. In the beginning Joseph is only aware of himself and his own dreams. Only later he changes to become a person who can listen closely to others and understand their dreams. In this workshop kids will draw their own dreams, exploring their significance as well as what it means to be aware of the dreams of others.
Workshops for adults
"Create your own picture book – and find yourself in a story"
Awakening your creative energy can be deeply satisfying. Writing a story for children is a form of creativity many people find rewarding - putting us in touch with strengths we may have forgotten, with dreams, adventures and hopes we have within us. After exploring what makes a successful picture book, this workshop involves fun creative writing exercises, a guided visualization and developing the story map and storyboard for your picture book. If you write the story for a particular child in your life it can make a beautiful gift.
Not one way of seeing but seventy! – Archetypal and religious stories and their relevance today.
Religion can too often become fundamentalist, and archetypal stories such as the biblical story of creation, are presented as simplistic and didactic. But there is an alternative approach. Based on the ancient saying “The Torah has seventy faces” this workshop reveals a rich and deeply pluralistic understanding of truth and biblical narratives.
Reading the creation story through this multidimensional lens we will consider issues such as chauvinism, or not, in the story of the creation of man and woman, what this story suggests about the relationship between the sexes, and explore what Lilith (she-devil or early feminist) and Carol Gilligan (Professor of ethics and feminism) have to contribute!
Noah and the ark - horror story or symbol of social justice?
The archetypal story of Noah is often read to children with sweet illustrations of the animals marching two by two into the ark. But in many ways the story of the flood, God destroying almost an entire world, is a horror story, with some disturbing and fascinating elements. Join Esther to explore the underside of this story and discover whether Noah is not as righteous as we thought, does God has an anger management problem and could the ark actually be a symbol for 21st century social justice?