In April this year, Katy of Chichester Copywriter was contacted by a parent requesting a creative writing workshop for children. Having not explored this avenue herself, Katy put out some feelers on Twitter to see if there was anything similar in the local area and author and Chichester Copywriter client Vicky Edwards suggested that they organise their own children’s workshop. From there, Story Factory Chichester has grown and last Friday Katy and Vicky ran their first creative storytelling workshop with the help of some fantastic industry experts.
Diana Hinshelwood led a wonderful writing session emphasising the importance of the beginning, middle and end to stories. After showing a clip from Sarah and Duck, the CBeebies series that she writes and produces, Diana shared a Halloween tale that she wrote especially for Story Factory :
Mildred and the Witch by Diana Hinshelwood
Mildred was a very beautiful black cat, with long, silky whiskers that twitched whenever she was dreaming, and sometimes when she wasn’t.
She lived in a house that had a pond in the back garden. She also lived with a little boy called Malcolm who loved to hug her all the time. The only problem was that she didn’t like being hugged by Malcolm, who tended to hug just a bit too hard.
At school, Malcolm had learned how in olden days people believed that witches could turn themselves into black cats as a disguise. “I bet you’re a witch in real life, aren’t you Mildred?” he said to the cat, who was trying to sleep on the sofa. Mildred opened her eyes, and looked at the boy, who had pushed his eager face right up next to hers. She flattened her ears, and tried to ignore him.
“Here’s my football”, said Malcolm. “Go on then. Turn it into a pumpkin”. Mildred tried to turn away and settle back down, but Malcolm wasn’t giving in. “OK, no pumpkin. I know. You can turn Mum’s broom into a witch’s broom.” He waved the kitchen broom at Mildred, who got up and stalked away.
“Wait!” called Malcolm, and he ran after the cat, who by now had really had enough. He scooped Mildred up, holding her underneath her front legs, so that her back legs dangled down awkwardly. Mildred let out an anguished me-yowl, but Malcolm wasn’t listening. He carried her out into the garden, where he put her down next to a large stone. “How about,” said the little boy “you turn that stone into a frog.”
Mildred glared at Malcolm with distain. She twitched her long, silky whiskers. Suddenly, there was a loud bang, and a huge puff of smoke. Mildred calmly blinked through the clouds of swirling smoke. When it cleared, Malcolm had completely disappeared. But in his place was a small, green, warty frog.
The children were encouraged to have a go at writing their own stories and Vicky introduced them to the trunk of mystery – a box containing everything from rusty keys and dog-eared maps to spooky books and mystical charm bracelets – in the hope that one or two items would spark their imaginations and inspire their stories. After a successful writing session, many of the children were happy to stand up and read out their stories, which revealed a range of characters, plots and creative skills.
Next, designer and illustrator Paul Fuller talked about how illustration can bring stories life and the children were tasked with creating bunting flags, each showing a drawing of either a character from the story they wrote with Diana or something that reminds them of Halloween. The result was 19 beautifully illustrated, fun and colourful flags which Katy strung and hung for all to see at the day’s finale showcase.
Talking of the showcase, in the afternoon marvellous music man Mike Fry asked the children about characters and locations from their stories and in just 20 minutes he came up with a fantastic song (lyrics and melody!) which everyone contributed to. The children came up with a dance, learnt the chorus and, accompanied by Mike on his miniature guitar, performed the Trunk of Mystery song, here’s a snippet:
On a dark and frosty night,
when there’s no one around,
you want to look behind you
when you hear that spooky jungle sound.
But you’re down in Pumpkin Alley
where the necromancer plays
with puppy dog ghosts and skeletons
every night and every day –
The only sound on Halloween
Is hearing yourself scream!
Won’t you come with us
into the trunk of mystery?
Just come with us into a
world where you will see
anything that we want you to
in a story that we wrote for you…
Cliff hangers, false endings
and comedy cul-de-sacs;
when telling stories
anything’s up for grabs –
words, pictures, song and dance
any old way will do
when we’re making up stories
and telling them to you!
After a lively performance that delighted the children and their parents, Katy and Vicky presented the children with certificates designed and created by Paul Fuller and goody bags supplied by the lovely people at Paperchase, Chichester. There were happy faces all round and here’s a testimonial from Jacqueline Harley, mother of eight-year-old Tom:
“Thanks so much to you and the rest of the team for arranging such a fun day on Friday.
Arts and Humanities are not really Tom’s forte, but he had such a lovely day – and was really positive about everything…
I also loved the fact that he was so happy spending the day with a group of children who are far removed from his usual football and Minecraft interests.
A fun and entertaining day, coupled with learning new skills – just perfect…thank you so much and a huge WELL DONE!”
Katy and Vicky are very much looking forward to organising more creative workshops for children soon. Please contact Katy if you’d like to be added to the mailing list to find out more about Story Factory Chichester and related events.