Category Archives: School Visits

Story Writing

A few weeks back, I visited Heerengracht Primary School in Eldorado (South Johannesburg). The headmistress, Mrs Daniels, has an infectious enthusiasm which sweeps you up as you enter her school and I ended up volunteering to run a story writing competition for her grade 6’s.

I always love visiting schools, the energy is just contagious, however, little did I realise to run a competition properly I would need to put in a lot of work. I first set up a rubric to mark to, then I started to read and assign marks for each section I had created eg. front cover, illustrations, credits, story length, did the story engage me, overall impression etc. It was a process that took several hours, though was, I must say thoroughly enjoyable. Isn’t it just amazing the stories kids come up with, I definitely feel there are some budding authors that will emerge from this school in the future.

So, when I returned to award prizes of my book to the winner, I explained how the pupils how the competition had worked and why we need a start, middle and end, to our writing as well as the other criteria I had used.

The competition was amazingly close between the top four stories, but one, in particular, engaged me a little more than the others, that of The Little Rabbit by Veandre. It had everything a short story needs, was the right length and left me wanting to read more by this young author. Congratulations, Veandre for producing a wonderful piece of work and to Heerengracht Primary School on the quality of stories, your teachers should be very proud of you.

The runners-up were Jordan T, Bailey and Lebohang.

#PollysPiralympics

Toucane flies out to schools

Toucane flies out to schools.

I think Polly may be getting a wee bit jealous, but fear not ma wee pet coz there will be a new Polly book out soon – watch this space.

Toucane is becoming popular in primary schools as I prepare for yet another visit on Monday.

Toucane will be talking about Stranger Danger on Monday in Dungarvan and bringing along the rest of the flock and his books.

If you are interested in a visit from Toucane 4-8 year-olds, or Polly 8-11 year olds just contact me, I visit all of Gauteng and will be touring East London and the Eastern Cape again later in the year, and am hoping to visit Durban this year as well.

So if you are a school, teacher or parent, you are welcome to contact me janspicssa@gmail.com

 

 

What I Love Most About My Job

There are always questions we are asked as authors. “What do you love most, what do you hate most and do you make lots of money?”

What do I love most about my job?                                                                            Easy – meeting the kids and doing workshops with them, whether talking about ‘Not littering’ and how we can save our planet or how to protect themselves from bullying to looking at those with disabilities. It’s the energy they give off, it is positively infectious.        Second to that is when they receive a book and start reading it straight away or colouring in the pages – I just love it.

Recently I have been out to several schools and here are some pics I can show.

What do I hate?                                                                                                                      Oh my goodness, the writer’s edit. I absolutely hate it with a passion.

Do we make lots of money?                                                                                            If your name is JK Rowling then yes, if it’s Jann Weeratunga then definitely no ha,ha,ha. But maybe one day.

 

 

It’s all about the Words

I recently visited Heerengracht Primary School in Eldorado Park.

The 6th graders were enthusiastic when we discussed the 5W’s +H and SPIDER DIAGRAMS (sometimes referred to as mind maps, though I think they look more like a spider in its web.) I use this system for every new book I write as well.

So, we created a spider diagram and then an imaginary story. After seeing their enthusiasm I decided to offer one of my books for the best story they could come up with. Needless to say, I was flooded with entries which I am now reading.

So, what are the criteria I am looking for? Well, I decided not spelling, punctuation or grammar. WHAT? I hear you all cry. No, the exercise was about encouraging writing, and if we only judge a piece of writing by those criteria, many children will be put off before they have really even started. No, I was interested in what they had to say. All of the rest can come as they get older and hone their writing skills, but initially, it is just all about the words.

Children’s authors out there, if you get the chance to do this, please do. It is amazingly rewarding and gives such a lift and support to teachers. I hope to finish reading and judging the stories this forthcoming weekend and will be presenting prizes soon, so watch this space!

Oh, and some even included their spider diagrams – LOVE IT WHEN THEY ACTUALLY LISTEN AND LEARN SOMETHING – HAPPY, HAPPY AUTHOR HERE.

The Title image shows some of the many stories.

 

Heerengracht Primary School

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Heerengracht Primary School in Eldorado Park, where Mrs Eden Daniels is the head.

Oh my gosh! What an amazing school.  From my first encounter with the security guard who was efficient, helpful and polite; to meeting with Mrs Daniels herself, who has energy enough for two people.

The grounds were spotless, children curious yet polite and very well mannered, and the general appearance, very inviting. I immediately felt at home.

I asked if they would like the Schools Reading Roadshow to visit.

“What is the SRRS?”                                             

Well, we are a group of authors visit Primary Schools, chat to pupils about our books and being an author and the fact that books don’t just materialise but are written by ‘real’ people. Plus, we deliver workshops on eg. anti-bullying, littering, living on a farm, travelling across Africa.

Mrs Daniels also showed me her School library which had been recently donated and to which the SRRS hope to add a few more books.

Plus, for one lucky grade 6 pupil, I am awarding a free book for the best-written story, which I will be collecting soon. I can’t wait to see these and am very excited to return to Heerengracht Primary.

If your school would like a visit, do get in contact.

 

Can’t wait to meet Polly tonight.

Polly on stage at Bennies JP

I can’t wait to meet Polly tonight. St Benedict’s Junior Prep is having their Pirate Play this evening with Polly on stage.

The grades 1-3 have been practising all term and tonight I actually get a chance to meet Polly. Doesn’t Polly look so colourful, and I adore those feet.

If you want to take the kids to a fun, action-packed (ARRGHHH) play, I think there may be a few tickets left for the next performances.

 

Road trip? Did anyone say Road trip?

Yes, I along with Cora Groenwald and Evadeen Brickwood will be in the Eastern Cape from the 18-21st June visiting all manner of schools in East London, King Williamstown, Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth with our Schools Reading Road Show. SRRS.

SRRS LOGO

Look out for us and give us a wave if you see us in your town or on the road.

We will be going into schools to deliver sponsored books (if you would like to sponsor 50 books for a school please contact me +27 722 477 101) we will also be reading to the children and doing short workshops with them to encourage them to read. 74% of grade 4’s in South Africa cannot read in their mother tongue! (PIRL Report Dec 2017) we have had a huge success with this in schools and find it raises the enthusiasm of the children when they actually get to meet the author of a book.

Children’s authors in the Eastern Cape if you would like to join us please contact me.