Thursday, 10 August 2017

Making a magical kingdom.

I have been really enjoying taking Hollie and Figgs characters and the story book into schools and encouraging children to get creative with writing or drawing or both. I have been amazed at their talent and imagination.
I had an idea to hold a workshop at my local environment park during the summer break. They have the facility and offered to advertise it for me. Libby the organiser at Brocks Hill Country Park, which is local to me, has been extremely helpful and shares a passion for educating and inspiring young children. So this was the ideal place to hold it.
We agreed on a couple of sessions, for an hour and a half each session. Libby talked to me about some of the activities they hold at the environment centre and I tried to think about how I could link Hollie and Figgs Magical Adventures to the work they do. 
Then I had an idea :) Why not get the children to make a magical kingdom for woodland creatures to live. I could talk about what creatures live in woodland areas and also have the magical link to the book. 
I set to work, thinking about how I could organise it.
Libby suggested a maximum of 25 children between the ages of 4-9 with their parents accompanying them. The book is aimed at ages 5-8, but adding a year either side shouldn't pose a problem.
After attending schools, I thought that this would be easy enough to manage especially if parents were there to help out.
Libby set to work on the advert. She called it "Tales, Tails and Crafts." I loved that!! 
I started to plan the event. I thought that I would first introduce myself and then read a part of the book before getting the children creative. I would have to make a background for the kingdom as I wanted children to get inspired by it. But how do I do that and what do I use?
I got hold of three large oblong cardboards. If I could fix them together and paint them that could be the ideal background I need. The environment centre had a lot of craft bits for me to use and I bought some of my own. There would have to be plenty of sparkles and glitter, after all, it's a magical kingdom!
It didn't take long before I set to work as I love to do anything artistic. I painted the background with lots of colour as I wanted it to be inviting and create a magical backdrop.

I cut out a copy of the palace taken from the book and stuck it to the background along with some toad stools and a tree.
I even made a sparkly silver shooting star to stick above the backdrop.
I picked up some free wall paper samples for the ground and cut out a golden path leading from the palace. 
Well, that's all set, now to make some tree houses and characters to go into the magical kingdom to give the children some ideas of what they can make. That's when I enlisted Holly, my daughter. She is 21 now, but she had so much fun creating things with a glitter overload. It took me back to when I used to sit with her when she was younger and we did artsy stuff together. She loved it then and still does :)

So this workshop is not only just a workshop it has also sparked some good memories and is adding more good memories to them.
We made magic toad stools, tree houses, magic houses, and characters. It looked amazing!
Then I had a lightbulb moment. Why not recreate fireworks over the kingdom using party poppers? The children would be sure to get involved and enjoy that!
As always these events should leave the participants with good memories and an experience they won't easily forget. 
I thought that it would be a nice gesture to give the children something to take away with them. Sweets are always a good bet, and I added a colouring-in page from my next book, Hollie and Figgs The Missing rainbow. They were so excited when I told them that no one else has actually seen any of the illustrations from the next book yet. They were the first! I also told them that I would feature their artwork on Hollie and Figgs social media if they send it to me. I also printed out some leaflets about the next book, for parents to take away with them.
Now I am all set.

On the day.
I set up as planned, with all the Hollie and Figgs props, characters, pull up-poster, the large magical tree all lit up and sparkly, the magical kingdom background and homemade creations. 
The children and their family members began to arrive. It is just me and no one else now. I introduced myself to them as they arrived and played guessing games to help break the ice. 
I set up an area in the room as a reading corner where I could read the story to them and get to know them a bit. I told them about the story and read part of it as it would take too much time to read it all and do the crafts. I had quite a range of ages to accommodate and found that the younger children started to get more fidgety after a while. The older children were very attentive.

Then it was time to get creative. I wanted to encourage parents to get involved too, and that's just what they did. I think they enjoyed it as much as the children. One mum said that it`s a real treat for her daughter to use glitter as she doesn't allow it at home.

I was so impressed with all the creations. To add some sparkle to the event I suggested that the children take a tree house home and keep it beside their bed and at night make a wish before bedtime. (one mum has already messaged me to say that her daughter does just that when she goes to bed.)

From the top left, Kabana Love, William, Jace, Emilia, and Joe. Just a few of the many talented children that I met at my workshop.

The children wanted to take all their creations home with them. I was hoping that they would leave some, but they were so happy and proud of what they made that they didn't want to leave them behind. Anyway, I asked them to place their creations into the magical kingdom so parents and I could take photographs and then they set off the party poppers (fireworks) which went well and ended the workshop with magic.
The magical fireworks

The whole event went a lot better than I thought and I had comments like"it's the best workshop that their children have attended," and one mum said that "there was so much to do, it was amazing!"
This made all the hard work worthwhile. I almost forgot to let parents know that they could buy a signed copy of my book as I had some with me.
Anyway, I will be doing it all again next week. 
I really hope you have enjoyed my rather long post. I am thoroughly enjoying my journey and inspiring children to be creative and positive about themselves and their abilities.  


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