The second picturebook from my project with Higher Openshaw Community School is looking great! Miss Meddick’s Y1 class had already selected a monster theme and started to come up with story ideas, so I was able to work with them to develop the plot and produce a classic problem/resolution narrative structure. In all the best fairytales things come in threes (3 is the magic number) so we invented three meany monsters of increasing scariness for our little hero to encounter while out for a walk.
The class wanted their book to convey a clear message about how to deal with life’s challenges – even if you are only quite little. This lent itself to a rhyming story with a powerful and memorable repeat refrain expressing the determination of the main character, The Littlest Monster, not to give up. I worked with the children to brainstorm descriptive words for each character and setting that we could then group into rhyming pairs and use within our story text.
Miss Meddick’s class was full of excellent illustrators, so we had brilliant versions of the four monsters, displaying a wide range of expressions, that we could fit into the page layouts. The children painted tissue paper to produce highly textured bodies – cut out and collaged in different poses – and accessorised with wool and feathers. Our budding artists also used watercolours to paint scenery; crayons to scribble clouds and shadows; and buttons to make pretty flowers.
This delightful picturebook is now ready for printing, and each child will get their own copy at the launch event on the 11th July – I can hardly wait!
This is the first of four picturebook collaborations with KS1 classes at Higher Openshaw Community school to reach proofing stage.
I worked with the children and teaching staff over four weeks to help them to generate their own story ideas, words and pictures. In Miss Butterworth’s Y1 class we quickly settled on Monsters as a theme, and devised a concept celebrating the kind of words that monsters love – oozingly onomatopoeic & awesomely alliterative!
To gain inspiration we set up stations around the classroom where the children could try out some monstrously messy activities, such as squishing dough, crunching pasta, and mucking about with goo. This serious research helped us to come up with some truly truly authentic monster words which then went into the mix – along with a dash of rhythm and rhyme, and a little twist to finish – to produce our story text.
The artwork would be kept simple, with each contributor providing at least one original monster illustration that could be cut out, scanned, and arranged to complement the text. The children drew, painted, snipped, and collaged their creations, unifying the eclectic work by using black & white sticky dots to add the eyes as a finishing touch. Back at the studio we fed all the words and pictures into InDesign, added some simple backgrounds and pleasing typography, and now Monsters Love Words is ready to send to the printers!
In this exciting new project I’m collaborating with four KS1 classes to create four original picturebooks. The children have already brainstormed ideas, selected key characters, produced story maps, and are now busy working on the words and pictures.
Their working titles are:
- Monsters Love Words
- The Littlest Monster
- S P A C E
- The Ultimate Test
As the project progresses I’ll share more news about how each storybook is developing…
As usual World Book Day has turned into World Book Week! I have been racing around the country visiting lots of lovely schools and having a marvellous time – here is some of the feedback I’ve already received:
A huge thank you for yesterday! So well received across both key stages!” – Higher Openshaw Community School, Manchester
“It was a wonderful day, the children were still talking about it as they were leaving at 6 o’clock! I posted a little bit about the day onto the news section of our website and have had some lovely comments. We are now busy documenting it all so parents can come in and see what the children were a part of.” – Incy Wincy’s Nursery, Bedale
“It was lovely to meet you too and hear your stories, they are amazing! Thank you for all the work you did with the children, they loved it! – Woodthorpe Community Primary School, Sheffield
“Pippa was able to work with a range of students with different needs. She pitched her activities at the correct level and at the end of the day some students had an opportunity to perform in the assembly, which they loved doing!” – Hazelbeck Special School, Bingley
March 4, 2017
Had a fabulous day working with the lovely staff and children at Whinney Bank Primary School, Middlesbrough, last week. The children found out the secrets of where authors get ideas from, how to create amazingly brilliant beginnings, magnificent middles and exciting endings and the importance of showing-not-telling. They discovered the tools and tricks of how to get your story out of your head and onto the page. Using cool paper engineering techniques they created characters that popped out off the page!
Thank you for a wonderful day which the children thoroughly enjoyed. They were totally engaged in the story making session – as one boy said, “I’m enjoying this – and I don’t even like writing.” They were all highly delighted with their pop-up books and I am sure they will remember your visit for many years to come.” Gillian Cain, YR2 Teacher
I was thrilled to perform Scribble & Scrunch today at Unity Theatre, Liverpool. They had invited children from nearby Abercromby Nursery School to visit the theatre and enjoy a storytelling and activity session. It was a great experience to work with the in-house technicians to put on a show with professional lighting and soundscapes. Thank you so much to all the staff and children for such a fabulous day!
The session was lovely! The children were all engaged and loved the stories and activities. The costume was fabulous! “She is a real princess,” said one little girl. It was all fab!
Developed through extensive collaboration with the Co-operative College and the Rochdale Pioneers Museum our historical epic is finally published!
This rhyming picturebook follows two modern schoolkids as they embark on an amazing time-travelling adventure into the grimy world of the Rochdale of 1844. Before making it back to the future they meet some of the original Rochdale Pioneers and witness the opening of their first co-op shop. Along the way they explore the stinky streets, strict classrooms and dangerous workplaces of a Victorian mill town and discover what life was like for many children in the past.
The book is packed with historical facts and includes a glossary, reading comprehension questions and a set of activities ideal for use with KS1 children.
Buy a copy online here . . .
The first book in The Little Pioneers series has reached print proof stage which is fantastic!
It features Charlie, a four-year-old who loves to join in and play with his friends at nursery. He is based on one of the existing mascot characters used by Co-operative Childcare to promote their core values. Charlie is joined in this rhyming picturebook by four friends – Ping, Ela, Alice & Ebo – and they have fun as they create some amazing things together!
Each of Charlie’s Little Pioneer friends represents one of the organisation’s DOES values: Democracy, Openness, Equality & Social Responsibility. I’m already busy working on the next book in the series which features a girl called Ping and introduces concepts of democracy for children in the Early Years.
Staghills Childrens Centre invited me back to do another 6-week project on storytelling and emergent writing.
We explored the story creation process using cameras and iPads, creating characters and settings, building story structures and linking them to movement, roleplay and writing. Each session has been a multi-sensory experience: paper has been ripped, torn and scrumpled; dough has been squished, squashed and squeezed!
Children have become forest adventurers and ocean voyagers, and have been introduced to some of my own favourite characters: Scribble & Scrunch, Mouse & Rabbit, Sydney the Sock. It has been so exciting to see the children develop into confident storytellers!
I loved attending the sessions as did my little girl. I loved the interaction with the children, especially getting the children to write the stories, which turned out quite funny! Thank you for sharing your stories with us!”
I had a wonderful day with the children at the Co-operative Childcare nursery at Littlehampton. I have been commissioned by The Midcounties Co-operative to produce five little picturebooks to feature each of their existing Little Pioneer characters. Yesterday the children worked with me to build stories for the first in the series – about Charlie, a boy who loves to co-operate with others!
I was also filmed and interviewed throughout the day. The film will be screened at the organisation’s AGM next month . . .
I’ve just completed a fun mark-making project working with 2-3 year olds at Staghills Children’s Centre in Rawtenstall, Lancashire. Parents joined their children for stories and activities on several dates including today’s celebration event. The brief included creating 3D sculptural work whilst helping the children to develop confidence in using a wide range of marking media and materials. I began each session by sharing an exciting story selected to inspire a particular approach to mark-making. Over 6 weeks we experimented with:
- Drawing with chunky wax crayons on paper
- Stamping on fabric with fruits and vegetables
- Painting tracks with toy cars and dinosaurs
- Printing with bubblewrap and foam shapes
- Marking with fabric crayons, paints and markers
- Creating & decorating cardboard structures
- Making lanterns using wax crayons on yupo paper
Some of the activities produced beautiful decorations on squares of fabric. I quilted these together to create an 8ft teepee and some gorgeous scatter cushions – a perfect place for telling stories!
I have now been invited to extend my stay into the Summer Term to work with the same children as they progress to the next stage as storytellers and emergent writers . . .
The Stories Alive project began today with a storytelling experience at Burnley Youth Theatre for classes of children from local nursery settings. On each group’s arrival the project lead, Gordon MacLellan (Creeping Toad), introduced myself and Carol Ferro (Short Story Lady) in the main auditorium. We then headed to breakout rooms for interactive story creation sessions.
The project will continue over the remainder of the academic year with each practitioner assigned to work closely with one of five participating schools. I’m looking forward to spending more time with children from Taywood Nursery in Burnley, helping them to discover the excitement of telling their own tales . . .
Thank you to everyone who attended and joined in with my workshop today at the The Schools Co-operative Society’s Annual Conference in Birmingham. The three Harmony the Honey Bee storybooks were launched at the same event, and I had opportunity to share the Foundation Stage Activity Pack which is still in development. It was very exciting for me because the third book in the series, Harmony & the Waggledance, only arrived back from the printers a few hours before the conference!
Find out more about these books here . . .
My sketches of Mouse & Rabbit simply begged to be brought to life as three-dimensional characters! It was so exciting to see them emerge from from my sewing area so full of personality and ready for adventures – they love dressing up, going places, doing things and being creative!
I’m really excited about bees right now! The Co-operative College has commissioned me to produce a series of three picturebooks and an activity pack to help children in the early years to understand the basic principles of cooperation.
We are creating stories about a cute bee called Harmony who must learn to work together with her friends to get the jobs done – and also have some fun!
These resources will be used by nursery schools linked to the Co-operative College and also by the Rochdale Pioneers Museum. The original building on Toad Lane, which was used as the first successful “co-op” grocery shop in the 1840s, is now open to the public and to school groups.
Hot off the press is this colourful and creative look at the language of comicbook culture that I produced with Key Stage 1 children at Hollinsclough Cof E (VA) Primary School in the Peak District.
I really enjoyed working in a lovely rural setting with a small class that included children from Reception through to Year 2. They were already in the middle of a topic about superheroes. We had great fun running around in capes and masks as we came up with lots of alliteration, onomatopoeia, and exclamatory punctuation!!!
The children created challenges to overcome including a crazy lego robot, a prehistoric plasticine monster and a massive meteor headed straight for earth. They used the ComicLife app for iPad to make their own strip designs and starred in action trailer we made using iMovie. Then their hand-drawn callouts and captions were combined with photographs of their roleplay to make the finished book.
If you would like a Storybook Creation Project for your school read more . . .
World Book Day has turned into World Book Week!!!
I’d like to thank all the lovely children and teachers I’ve worked with over the past few days at:
Deepdale Infant School, Preston
St Mark’s C of E (A) Primary School, Stoke-on-Trent
Hollinsclough C of E (VA) Primary School, Staffordshire
You don’t have to wait until World Book Day 2015 – why not contact me now to book an Author Day?
March 7, 2014
I’ve just unwrapped the fabulous-looking proof copy of Exciting Writing: Approaches to Mark-Making!
This book documents a project in which I was invited to Whitegate Centre to help children grow in confidence and ability as emergent writers. It is packed with lovely images from the project and quotations from the children who joined in the sessions. It considers approaches to early writing by examining the underlying thought processes and the physical skills required. It also explores how to embed learning about writing within the context of imaginative play and storytelling, presenting several case studies of successful guided activities. The chapters feature tried & tested tips for improved learning outcomes across all seven areas of the revised EYFS, along with examples of how well-planned continuous provision of resources for mark-making supports children’s development.
Read more about the project and book here...