Friendly Blog

My First March Break as a Storyteller

Published 8 months ago by Alexis Alexander

After a very busy March Break and a few days spent getting back into the swing of things, I’m finally able to stop and take a deep breath. What a week!

I had no idea when I started this adventure how awesome and important March Break would be. I’d experienced March Break as a parent, but this was my first official year experiencing it as a children’s author!

In addition to super fun readings at Chapters Ajax and Canadian Tire, I spent time with kids enjoying March Break camps hosted by Umbrella Central at Lord Elgin, Sunset Heights, Gandausitaigon, Walter and Bellwood public schools.

We broke every 2.5 hour session into two parts, and I spent a little over an hour with each group. For the K-3 age children, I gave them a dramatic performance of my Friendly Fables book series. We took breaks while reading the books to ask and answer questions, rap, sing, dance, and look at puppy pictures of my dogs. With a few groups we even made slime to add to our ‘Monster Cakes’! It was a ton of fun.

The older kids (Grades 3-5) are always a more challenging audience. That said, once their walls come down, we always end up having a blast!

The first thing I do when working with older kids is show them a picture of my family and tell them the story of how and why I became a storyteller. Once we have built some rapport, I dive into ‘How To Bake A Monster Cake’ and ‘Myrtle’s Big Race’. When I’ve captured their attention, I start to tell them about the theory of relativity in a really cool way. It starts by getting them to identify their favourite activities (video games, sports, art, family time). We then talk about how when they’re doing these things, time ceases to exist - or at least, it seems to move very quickly. That’s because they’re doing something they love!

I then ask them how long it would feel like if they sat on a burning stovetop by accident for five seconds. They respond always with ‘an hour!’ After illustrating how ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ (and moves sloooowwlllyyy when you are not enjoying yourself), I introduce a psychological theory called ‘flow’. It’s the idea that people lose track of time (time being a hypothetical construct) when we are doing what we are truly meant to be doing. Quickly, the kids start to relate this concept to the things they love to do - gymnastics, soccer or video games. ‘Flow’ takes many forms, but it exists in every human being.

I then introduce The Contest. Realistically, the only book that I have out right now that will get a Grade 5 student excited is ‘Farts’ (haha) but I use this to my advantage. We have a short story contest for a signed copy and it’s a huge hit!

I ask the group what they are going to write about. They almost always go from excited to perplexed about what they are going to write about. That’s when it happens! I point at our ‘brainstorming board’ - the place I’ve been writing all the things they told me they loved to do: baseball, drawing, movies, ballet, basketball, reading….the list goes on endlessly. Before you know it, they’re happily writing their short stories.

I am so proud of this silly program I’ve created because it is inspiring all of these kids to open their imaginations and write awesome stories! As each sessions ends, I go back and connect that if they write a story about the thing they lose track of time while doing, they might also lose track of time while writing about it. Another way to find their flow!

So that was my March Break - my first real March Break as a storyteller. Thanks for letting me share it with you.

After a very busy March Break and a few days spent getting back into the swing of things, I’m finally able to stop and take a deep breath. What a week!

I had no idea when I started this adventure how awesome and important March Break would be. I’d experienced March Break as a parent, but this was my first official year experiencing it as a children’s author!

In addition to super fun readings at Chapters Ajax and Canadian Tire, I spent time with kids enjoying March Break camps hosted by Umbrella Central at Lord Elgin, Sunset Heights, Gandausitaigon, Walter and Bellwood public schools.

We broke every 2.5 hour session into two parts, and I spent a little over an hour with each group. For the K-3 age children, I gave them a dramatic performance of my Friendly Fables book series. We took breaks while reading the books to ask and answer questions, rap, sing, dance, and look at puppy pictures of my dogs. With a few groups we even made slime to add to our ‘Monster Cakes’! It was a ton of fun.

The older kids (Grades 3-5) are always a more challenging audience. That said, once their walls come down, we always end up having a blast!

The first thing I do when working with older kids is show them a picture of my family and tell them the story of how and why I became a storyteller. Once we have built some rapport, I dive into ‘How To Bake A Monster Cake’ and ‘Myrtle’s Big Race’. When I’ve captured their attention, I start to tell them about the theory of relativity in a really cool way. It starts by getting them to identify their favourite activities (video games, sports, art, family time). We then talk about how when they’re doing these things, time ceases to exist - or at least, it seems to move very quickly. That’s because they’re doing something they love!

I then ask them how long it would feel like if they sat on a burning stovetop by accident for five seconds. They respond always with ‘an hour!’ After illustrating how ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ (and moves sloooowwlllyyy when you are not enjoying yourself), I introduce a psychological theory called ‘flow’. It’s the idea that people lose track of time (time being a hypothetical construct) when we are doing what we are truly meant to be doing. Quickly, the kids start to relate this concept to the things they love to do - gymnastics, soccer or video games. ‘Flow’ takes many forms, but it exists in every human being.

I then introduce The Contest. Realistically, the only book that I have out right now that will get a Grade 5 student excited is ‘Farts’ (haha) but I use this to my advantage. We have a short story contest for a signed copy and it’s a huge hit!

I ask the group what they are going to write about. They almost always go from excited to perplexed about what they are going to write about. That’s when it happens! I point at our ‘brainstorming board’ - the place I’ve been writing all the things they told me they loved to do: baseball, drawing, movies, ballet, basketball, reading….the list goes on endlessly. Before you know it, they’re happily writing their short stories.

I am so proud of this silly program I’ve created because it is inspiring all of these kids to open their imaginations and write awesome stories! As each sessions ends, I go back and connect that if they write a story about the thing they lose track of time while doing, they might also lose track of time while writing about it. Another way to find their flow!

So that was my March Break - my first real March Break as a storyteller. Thanks for letting me share it with you.