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Creating a School Visit Presentation

I had the pleasure of visiting my local middle school this week where I met with the sixth graders to talk about writing and fairy tales. I was very nervous going into it, but the students were great and the presentation I put together seemed to be a hit. (Of course, I completely forgot to take pictures.)

In case anyone’s interested, here is how I went about putting together the presentation.


I knew there were certain things I wanted to include in my presentation:

-How I became a writer

I wanted to use lots of pictures, including some embarrassing ones from when I was young.

-The writing/publishing process of UnFairy Tale Life

I thought it would be useful for the students to see the book in its various stages.

-A group activity

My publicist gave me the idea of talking about fairy tale retellings since they’re so popular these days. Then the brilliant Heather suggest I do a Mad Libs with the students.

-A hands-on activity

The teacher who helped organize the visit asked me to include the origami frogs that I have as part of my bookstore/library visits, so I decided to make the activity into a competition.

Presentation Time

Here is what I did during the actual presentation:

-I started by talking about my path to becoming a writer, including examples of favorite books and the types of stories I wrote when I was young.

-Then I talked about writing and publishing UnFairy Tale Life. I read the first page of the very first draft I ever wrote of the story, and we compared it to the final version. We also talked about rejection, book titles, and book covers.

-Just as the students’ eyes were starting to glaze over, I shook things up by switching to Fairy Tale Mad Libs. As a group, we created a profile of a fairy tale character. Then we thought about what kind of stories we could put the character into. We came up with some great ideas for ways to twist the story around, including some interesting villains.

-Finally, it was time for an origami jumping frog competition! The students made jumping frogs and we had the frogs jump against each other until we came up with an ultimate jumping champion. It was mild chaos, but the kids got really into it and so did the teachers.

-At the end, I left a few minutes for students to ask questions and then I signed books.

-The whole presentation lasted just about an hour.

So that’s about it!

I had a lot of fun putting the presentation together, and I was glad the students got into it. The main thing I was worried about was losing the kids’ interest, but I think I managed to sneak in enough questions and interactive activities (and jumping frogs) to keep them awake.

Since I was presenting to the entire sixth grade, I wound up doing the presentation seven times over the course of two days. By the last one, it went very smoothly since I knew exactly what worked and what didn’t. So the more you can practice, the better!