I'm looking forward to visiting your school...
What to expect....
I run sessions which are fun, inclusive and energetic, with lots of audience participation. I discuss the process of illustrating a picture book, showing roughs and works in progress, and the basic principles of character design, composition, and constructing a visual narrative. I adapt my sessions to meet the different needs of each age group. For Pre K and Stage 1 groups, the focus is on having fun, thinking about telling stories with pictures, and learning about how books are made, with lots of interactive, high-octane audience participation and a big dose of silliness. With Stage 2 groups, I start to introduce some more technical ideas about the process of illustration, and give them handy drawing tricks they can use in their own work, with the focus on creating expressive characters. For Stage 3, we get a little more in-depth, discussing how visual narratives work and exploring how some of the formal elements of design such as shape and composition help enhance the emotional impact of images, again giving them a range of strategies they can use in their own drawing. I try to keep all sessions lively, funny and interactive.
It also works really well if the students can draw along with me, even in big groups. This really does help them get the most out of our time together. Please make sure every child comes prepared with a few sheets of A4 printer paper, a sharp lead pencil, and a book or clipboard to lean on (sketchbooks or art books are a good alternative to the printer paper)
During the last 15 mins of each session, the students invent a story and we illustrate it together. I'll do an original charcoal pencil drawing that the school can keep, and students can see the drawing take shape before their eyes on the big screen. If they are equipped with pencil and paper, they can draw their own interpretation. Once the drawing's finished, I'll also email you a black and white coloring-in version after the visit - teachers like to use them as starters for creative writing exercises, and print out individual copies for the kids to colour and enhance. You can see (and download and use!) some of the pictures I've done with various school groups here.
If you have anything you'd really like me to focus on, or any special requests, just get in touch via email or feel free to phone me on 041 4938261. I'm happy to try almost anything and accommodate any suggestions - so long as you don't want me to ride a unicycle or wrestle a grizzly bear.
Sessions work best when divided into year groups or stage groups, so that I can choose age-appropriate activities that each stage will respond well to. I prefer hour long sessions (even for the kindy kids - I usually find they stay engrossed right to the end!) and I include three sessions in my day rate - extra sessions are possible if you require them.
A data projector or interactive whiteboard that I can plug my laptop into, with a standard VGA port (and VGA extension cable), or an HDMI port and cable. The computer should be next to me when I'm presenting (rather than down the other end of the hall!) because I'll need to access it during my presentation. Please make sure all the equipment is working and make sure all connection cables, remotes etc are there.
A working microphone if I'll be speaking to a big group (more than 80 kids) or if the acoustics are not so great.
Whiteboard, markers and eraser
It also works really well if the students can draw along with me, even in big groups. This is optional, but it really does help them get the most out of our time together. If you'd like them to draw, please make sure every child comes prepared with a few sheets of A4 printer paper, a sharp lead pencil, and a book or clipboard to lean on (sketchbooks or art books are a good alternative to the printer paper). Please make sure all children are equipped with these before they come into the session, so that we don't lose time trying to distribute them.
How to prepare:
Teacher-librarians are experts at creating a buzz around books, and it's such a delight to visit schools where the kids are already familiar with some of the books I've illustrated - so if you get a chance to read even just one or two of them prior to my visit, it really helps build their enthusiasm and sense of connection. I know time is limited and the schedule is very full, though, so don't worry if you can't manage it.
If you would like some images to print out to put up around the school or add to notices/newsletters, you can use any of these:
Download book covers (11 MB)
Download photos of Sarah (18 MB)
Links to teacher notes and activities can be found throughout my website, on the page for each specific book, or on my resources page
I'm happy to sign books for the library, or any copies that students have brought from home.
If you would like to give the students the chance to purchase books for signing, I have an arrangement with the Children's Bookshop in Beecroft. You can download and distribute this order form to children and send the completed forms direct to the Children's Bookshop. They will contact you and arrange to have your books delivered prior to my visit, and I'm happy to do a signing session with the students. This is entirely optional, though, and I understand it's not appropriate for every school, so don’t feel any pressure!
Making Me Lunch
No need! I'm one of those awkward people who has allergies and things, so I'll bring my own - but would love to eat it with you in the staff room if you have time. And I am happy to be the excuse to throw a big morning tea party for the rest of the staff if you want to ... the Powers That Be don't need to know that I won't be eating any of the cakes!