For Primary and Secondary Schools

Boy Writing at DYE*

Generate ideas…
invent characters and setting…
put them in motion in a story arc
with a beginning, middle and end.
In English or Spanish.

Kids can do it—with no prompts. Kids of any age, from Kinders to high schoolers. And their parents, too.

What are my goals?

To teach basic story concepts by helping students compose a miniature “graphic novel,” tailored to grade, ability and language capability.

To affirm that writing and reading are the right of every person, regardless of age or ability. Writing and reading are forms of speech.

To show young writers that books are written by people just like themselves.

What will my presentation be like?

In forty-five minutes to an hour—a half hour for Kinders and Firsts–I chat with students about what it’s like to be an author-illustrator, and about where their own ideas come from.

Then I put up a huge sheet of paper and draw four empty panels. And the real fun and learning begin.

Students pitch ideas and concepts. Beginning with the worlds of their own possibilities, I suggest, nudge, steer, and illustrate their collective story. We’re loud—enthusiasm isn’t quiet! With a little help, the tales miraculously work out…even if that requires the intervention of space aliens!

Here’s an example, the work of a third grade class. Ideas and plot were provided entirely by the students. I guided a little, cheered them on, and illustrated their story of a chubby pig whose trampoline is situated—uh-oh!—right over a clump of cactus:

"Pork Chop Go Boom-Boom!" by Mrs. Perez's Third Graders
“Pork Chop Go Boom-Boom!”
by Mrs. Perez’s Third Graders

Students go back to their classrooms confident, excited about writing, and ready to take on the challenge of “To be continued…”

Of course they get to keep their story, to be displayed so they can remember, and boast about, what capable and creative writers they are.

Needs and fees:

What will I need when I visit?


What do educators say about my workshops?

How can you contact me?:








All material on this site, both text and graphics, is © Betsy James, and may not be used commercially without her permission.

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Betsy James on Writing, Art, and Walking in the Desert

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