I've been speaking in classrooms but I've just been asked to do an assembly at an elementary school--380 kids divided into two groups.

I'm an author--not an entertainer! I wish I had a light show or something but it's just me!

Two questions--any advice an creating an interesting presentation for the kids? So far I'm planning to share how I got into writing, my education at UC Berkeley, read from the book, and do a creative writing exercise. I want ideas on interactive activities I can include with the kids etc.

They asked me what my fee is? Good question? I'm planning on "donating" my time until I gain more experience. But, if any of you speak at schools, what is an appropriate fee? I live in Northern California.

I am excited that they are sending pre-orders for my book to 380 students!!


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Hi Vera, thank you also for your thoughtful answers1 I did ask the school to have the kids bring their notebooks and pencils to the assembly. You made me think though--I will ask the teachers to bring extras for kids who "forget". I do have a photo that they will write about for a "five minute spill".

I have a powerpoint. I will add a few cool graphics. I'm going to practice it in a few classrooms first! I'm getting excited...


I am sure you are savvy with ppt but remember that "Let's take a walk." in words can "walk" across the screen with the "entrance" click.  And fades in and fades out are fund.  The kids love it when you put pictures of someone jumping rope (for example) and the picture jumps onto and across the screen.  Silly stuff, but kid fun stuff.

actually, I'm not ppt savvy at all. This is my first one. I will be googling how to add animations--lol!

Hi Jennifer,

I may be able to help you with some idea's - I'm an entertainer first, author second. I performed at children's birthday parties all over Los Angeles for several years dressing up as a Clown, a Pirate, Barney and many other characters. I'm also a comedian and have taught improv at elementary schools.

I have a few questions to ask first so I can see what you're working with and to know how best to help you.

1-Is there a sound system or will you be projecting your voice?

2-Are the two groups separated by age and if so what are the age groups you'll be speaking with?

3-Will the kids be seated or sitting on the floor?

4-Will they be able to move around or be repositioned (for example, have them stand in a circle).

5-Are you going to promote "The Pet Washer" or another book?

6-When are you speaking and how much time do you have to prepare?

If you don't already have something to hand out to the students, get something ASAP. I love the book mark idea!

Looking forward to helping you out Jennifer!


AKA - The Hollywood Clown

Hi Jason!

Great questions. I'm speaking to two groups. The first is 3/4th grade and the second is 5th/6th grade. Each group has 180 kids. I believe they will be sitting on the floor. I will have a mic for my voice and a computer/projector for my powerpoint presentation. They insisted on sending a pre-order form for my book--so yes, I'll be promoting it. Students will get their signed books later in the classroom. I am getting bookmarks made so that everyone will get something!! I think I can re-position some kids closest to me. I am speaking April 12th, so I have some time to get ready. Each session is about 50 minutes long.

My main concern is entertaining them while inspiring them to write. I plan to go over the five elements of a story--main character, the problem, the goal, the opponent and the climax. Then put up a photo and let them do a five minute "spill" about the characters in the photo (it's a puppy and a pig). Have the teachers collect a few and then read them anonymously. Before the writing, I would have volunteer students come up to give the characters names, choose the setting and choose the time (past, present or future)--than let everyone write away! Do you think this would work?


I'm looking forward to your ideas!! Jennifer

First off, be yourself. Second, yes, you are an entertainer in the sense taht you're a writer and people are always going to give a second look at writers. You entertain through yoru writing. Don't treat it as a speech/lecture or you'll have a bnch of bored kids squirming around wishing the crazy lady would shut up and go away. I agree with the others, if you can get them participating and are able to open up their creativity you've got a winner. Plus, you may inspire some kid who didn't he/she could achieve something. Be funny, be encouragin, be upbeat. Also beforehand- practice, practice, practice. Do not go in there cold or with tons of notes you'll have to refer to all the time.

Great points, Stephen! I am practicing in some classrooms next month before the big assembly. I'll be putting all these ideas into practice. I will report back to you all on how it goes. The big assembly is in April but the classroom and library visits in March will show me if I'm on the right track!! Jennifer

I would look on youtube.  I know i have seen author talks before.  You might be able to glean some tips from seeing the experts.  I know that Steven Kellogg is highly sought out.  


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