Stanley's Schools Page

 

This is Max Tofts, age 8, on World Book Day 2017, dressed as Stanley Smartpants. He won the “Best Costume” competition at his school, Barton End Primary Academy in Haverhill. Congratulations, Max. Stanley himself would have been proud of you!

Alexander Martin offers visits to Primary Schools for Creative Writing Presentations and Workshops

The following is a guide to what an Alexander Martin visit can encompass. All visits can be tailored to suit the individual school.

Presentation for KS2 children – Session Length approximately 40-45 minutes

This is accompanied by a Powerpoint Slide Show with approximately 30 slides.

“After an introduction to Stanley Smartpants and the Mackerel Robberies - what the story is about and how I came to write it - we discuss “The Hook”, and why it is important at the beginning of a story.

We look at how to progress a story, and how to make one’s characters come to life. I do this in sections or elements, and illustrate each element by reading small amounts of text from the book. There is a lot of humour in the extracts I read out, including a number of jokes, most of which have been sent in by children, and I show how they are woven into the story, in this case Stanley Smartpants and the Harbour Mystery.

I also show children how easy it really is to be creative, again with examples. Perhaps most important of all I offer them the opportunity to contribute to subsequent Stanley Smartpants stories by sending in creative ideas, and I show examples which have been sent in by other children.

Depending on time and availability we may make a brief visit to the Stanley Smartpants website. Finally – Questions."

KS1 Presentation

Session Length - approx 40-45 minutes – Can be shortened if desired

Follows similar pattern to KS2 Presentation, with certain age related changes.

Individual KS2 Class Workshop

CHARACTER DESCRIPTION

Session Length - approx. 60 minutes. This can be shortened to 45/55 minutes to accommodate school timetable if required.

“This session can be linked to a Writing Competition if desired.

The first task involves the THREE STANLEYS (the front cover designs of each of the three books) on the whiteboard/screen. I read out my descriptions of STANLEY 1 and STANLEY 2, and then ask the children to write their descriptions of STANLEY 3. Invite those children who wish to do so to read out their descriptions. I make any comments that are relevant.

Hand out a “Thesaurus Sheet” to each child, and make comments. Then I discuss alliteration, and read an example from “The Mackerel Robberies” - illustrates the value of a thesaurus when writing.

I read out “DOMINIC THICK”, a brilliant little character description written by a Year 5 boy at a school I visited. Truly amazing!

Ask children to create and describe their own cat character. Invite children to read out what they have written if they wish to do so.

If required introduce Writing Competition.”

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM CHILDREN

Over the course of writing these novels I have developed what I think is a unique footprint. As I set out to write the second book in the series, Stanley Smartpants and the Harbour Mystery, it occurred to me that I could involve children in more than reading manuscripts and writing reviews. I could encourage them to participate in the creative process of writing a novel.

There are three main avenues of contribution. During my talk about creative writing I show many examples of creativity. My own particular forte is humour, and these books, detective stories in which all the characters are cats, are quite simply a vehicle for humour. Thus I demonstrate just how easy it is to be creative, and the joy of writing humorously, word play being one of my favourite tools. I invite children to invent character names, names of businesses and places, and expressions that have some “cat reference”, e.g. Cat-Tucky Fried Chicken. Two ways of encouraging this aspect of creativity is through individual class workshops and a story writing competition subsequent to my visit.

In conjunction with my visit we usually have a colouring competition, in effect to give Stanley a new outfit. Stanley wears a number of different outfits during the course of the stories, and every one is a child’s design, including the front cover image. The final area of contribution appeals to most children, sending in jokes. Any joke that appears in one of the stories earns the sender a credit at the front of the book.

In total thirty children have a credit at the front of the latest book in the series, Stanley Smartpants and the Exploding Bananas.

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