For Schools


Joanna GilarKids’ Workshops
I offer creative writing, performance poetry and storytelling workshops for KS 1 – 5. All workshops provide immersive engagement with story which support and enrich the national curriculum, aiding and inspiring young people to improve their vocabulary, composition skills, drama and performance ability and overall confidence and competence in the spoken and written word.

With ten years of experience running workshops for young people in the UK and on the continent, as well as an extensive background in English language teaching and a doctorate in fairy tales and environmental education, my workshops offer a space to create wildly and deeply in a hectic and ever-changing world.

All workshops can include a storytelling or poetry performance, but primarily foster a creative space in which participants are invited to respond to, explore, and narrate stories themselves. The aim of the work is to facilitate story fluency, providing pupils with narrative tools to express their own relationships to stories, words and worlds.

ONCA WhaleFest poetry and doodle scroll

ONCA WhaleFest poetry and doodle scroll

Fairy Tale Literacy
Developed during my doctoral research, fairy tale literacy events are cross-curricular workshops which use fairy tales as an innovative forum for enhancing pupils’ ability to communicate and narrate their experiences of the real world.


“If we do not listen to the helpful bird or animal then we are finished.”
~Marie Louise Von Franz

Eco-storytelling workshops use the familiar and yet deeply creative space of the fairy tale to explore the difficult issues of pollution, climate change and sustainable development. Vivid spaces in which we can talk to frogs and marry beasts, the fairy tale world is explored in these workshops to allow students to enhance their sensitivity to their own environment and discuss and debate how we relate to the wild world.

Examples of Eco-storytelling workshops:

How to Be a Tree
Watching and writing about the oak tree surrounded by concrete, the birch bursting from the tarmac, how can we build a wood of words? Root riddles, bark verse, leaf lyrics and bird haikus, soil songs, sky songs and squirrel stories, this workshop is an exploration of the language of trees.

Did Goldilocks Get Home?
Re-telling the story of Goldilocks from the perspective of the birds, the trees, the bears – even the porridge – how can we explore the meaning of the explorer, of the human who tastes the wild, and of the adventure to find a way back home?

Little Red Riding Hood and the Ferocious Forest
A girl meets a wolf within the woods. Sometimes, she is killed for her disobedience. Sometimes she needs a woodcutter to rescue her. At others times, she is a brave and dangerous heroine who meets – and outwits – a wolf on her journey to encounter the other for herself. What can the different versions of Little Red Riding Hood tell us about our own relationship to the wild woods?

Selkies and Our Sea
A selkie is woman with a skin of a seal, or perhaps the other way round. Our oceans today are full of the skins of modern society – our own skins of discarded plastic. Using the traditional Celtic tale to explore our impact on today’s ocean, this is a workshop of water, of waste, and of skins.

The Queen Bee
Tell it to the bees, goes the old legend. In the Grimm’s fairy tale, rescued bees help a younger brother save a castle turned to stone. Bees have one of the most complex forms of communication of all living beings. What words arise when we weave within them the voices and the dances of the bees?


  • What if we never asked to be rescued by an armoured knight, and are perfectly happy where we are?
  • What kind of straw is today’s wold asking us to spin into gold – and WHY SHOULD WE?
  • How come the prince never gets to sleep for 100 years?
  • How can you get the girl (or boy) when killing giants and slaughtering dragons is neither attractive nor realistic?

BodyTelling workshops use fairy tales to facilitate discussion of relationships, gender and body image. Responsive to SRE teaching requirements, I offer these classes for Key Stage 3 – 5 students to facilitate a safe and sensitive space in which young people can navigate their relationships to social and cultural expectations of who they are, and how they connect with others. Traditional stories are told to inspire the telling of the groups’ own stories; enhancing their ability to respect themselves and others by the practice of speaking and listening to how, where, and why we relate.

Owl Day at the ONCA Gallery

Owl Day at the ONCA Gallery