SCHOOLS - 8 Ways to Connect

The ATEAB24 festival schools engagement programme is ‘8 Ways to Connect’.
This programme of creative activities exploring E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children runs January – March 2024 with teacher-led activities to download and artist-led activities to book:

1. Festival Introductory Videos

Get to know the festival team as you find out about this year’s book choice and plans for the 2024 festival. 
Our diverse workshop leaders are inspirational role models for young readers.
1 minute inspiring videos to watch

Meet Yasmin Aishah, co-curator

Play Video

Meet Sam Brown, festival engagement team

(Spoiler alert: Sam discloses what happens to the dad during the book!)

Play Video

Meet Cai Jones, festival engagement team

(Spoiler alert: Cai discloses what happens to the dad at the end of the book!)

Play Video

2. Sketch Assembly Introduction

15-20 mins session in school

Book a whole school guided sketch assembly delivered by two musician performers. Young learners will doodle as they listen to an introduction of the book with excerpts from the text. The sketches will be gathered at the end of the assembly and processed onto creative materials for display in the festival spring school holiday period. The writing explored can inspire writing competition entries.
The display of the sketches in the festival values children’s enjoyment and benefit in doodling, a processing tool that aids concentration, manages anxiety through the sensory impact of feeling the pen move over paper and offers a visual way to consider what is heard and seen. This activity validates spontaneous artistic expression inspired by reading from the book and music.
Pencil for each participant, supplied by the school.
Paper for each participant, supplied by the festival team.

3. Festival Poster

Download and Display your poster.
The team can also deliver posters to your school.
Be proud to be a festival school.

Exploring heritage books supports young readers to gain insights into their society’s history and modern life.

The ATEAB24 school poster
Select poster image for a printable PDF copy

4. “I thought that engineering was making engines”

Automata workshops: 1 hr session in school

Book an automata-making workshop in your school themed on engineering.
Delivered by Cabaret Mechanical Theatre CIC, young learners will create a model for a mechanical landscape – a model village – that will be displayed in the festival.
This 1 hr artist-led activity in schools explores the many things engineering can be.
One of the characters, Bobby, says, “Engineering is not just building engines.” Participants will learn how to make an automata model which will be returned to school after the festival for display.
Automata-making kits supplied by Cabaret Mechanical Theatre CIC

5. Choose2bKind Drama Workshops

30-45 min session in school

Book a drama workshops in which children explore the excerpt in the book in which Bobby and Peter argue over a garden rake. The little argument quickly escalates to a serious situation in which Peter is injured.
Children are taught to swim and practice fire drills to keep safe but often regular practice of an essential life skill – the ability to navigate conflict – is overlooked.
Children will explore Bobby and Peter’s argument and try out ways to resolve it healthily.
A school hall, drama space or section of a classroom where there is room for a drama activity.

6. ”Yawning Mouth of the Tunnel"

‘Fortune teller’ fun.

Download a ‘fortune teller’ to explore E. Nesbit’s imaginative writing alongside the engineering triumph that is St Leonards-on-Sea’s Bo Peep tunnel.
Explore St Leonards-on-Sea’s Bo Peep tunnel and Nesbit’s lively language.
Downloadable ‘fortune teller’ design to fold.
Video instructions to be uploaded 30/01
Select activity image for a printable PDF copy

7. Festival Map

Pick up a festival map to connect with the many free activities over the school spring holiday that will support children in their reading and writing development and connect them with conversations about E. Nesbit’s book.
Published and delivered to schools in March, there is a map for every child detailing the many fun, creative activities on offer that families can benefit from. To be published March 2024.
Free, inspiring, accessible activities along the outdoor art trail invite families outdoors every day of the holidays to explore creative activities themed on the book and connect with their community.
A festival map that folds neatly into a pocket.

8. Creative Writing Competition

Entries worked on during the school spring holiday and submitted via school by 26th April.

Responding to E. Nesbit’s quote “With a Shriek and a Snort”, an invitation to submit 150 words of creative writing in any format. Three age categories for writers aged 5-14 years.
A winner and runner up prize will be offered to entrants selected from each school in each category as well as an overall winner. 
This festival exploration connects up writing with reading and fun.
Deadline for submission to the festival panel is Friday 26th April. Schools can arrange for a member of the festival team to pick up bundled entries from the school office. Individuals can email entries to detailing name and age.
The shortlist will be published on 3rd May and the winners announced from each school on 5th May 2024.
This is a key opportunity for children to represent their school and be rewarded for their creativity.
It encourages aspiration to take part because barriers that diverse learners experience in other writing competitions are removed in the judging of the most creative voice in contrast to conventional understandings of what ‘best writing’ looks like.
A writing competition flyer for every child. Posters for classroom.
Select flyer images for a printable PDF copy


In 2023, we explored Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands through multiple innovative entry points

Our schools engagement programme is ‘8 Ways to Connect’. Resources are still available to access. Physical workshops in schools are not available to book now the 2023 festival has finished.

1. School Poster

Download your school poster and then scroll down for multiple downloadable school resources. The #ATownExploresABook23 schools engagement programme, ‘8 Ways to Connect’, supports schools in building a individual, tailored connection with the festival.
If you require support, please email:
Select poster image for a printable PDF copy

2. Mary Seacole journey illustration

Designed by Yasmin Aishah

3. Paper Boat Kit

Designed by Yasmin Aishah
Select poster image for a printable PDF copy

4. Video Resources

This reader-led festival invites your personal responses to this heritage book.
Members of the team share insights to get you started!

What Are Books to us?

Gail Borrow introduces A Town Explores A Book festival, which is now entering its 7th year and is an annual exploration of a heritage book.

A Woman of Total Strength

Tola Dabiri shares why she believes Mary Seacole remains a great role model for us all, and and example of overcoming adversity in pursuit of a goal.

There are many Ways to Explore Mary’s Book

Jac Holt shares their history with reading and of exploring books and stories in many different ways.

Explore with your critical eye

Ray Manning encourages readers to approach Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole with a critical eye, as her relationship with her own race is not straightforward.

Three Anniversaries

Etienne Cutmore-Kourouma introduces the three important anniversaries that are connected to our 2023 book choice Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands.

5. Creative Writing Competition

Festival creative writing competition for KS1, KS2, KS3

The theme for 2023 is “Journey” and the deadline to submit entries is FRIDAY APRIL 28.
A Hastings Museum and Art Gallery collaboration. Prizes donated by Hastings Thrives and National Literacy Trust Hub in Hastings
Select flyer images for a printable PDF copy

6. Design your bunting!

#ATownExploresABook23 is inviting schools to create artwork inspired by this year’s book, Wonderful  Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands by Mary Seacole, which we will print and display as bunting during the festival.

Templates and instructions can be downloaded from this page and printed to be handed out in classes for children to create designs using inspiration from our collection of videos, book quotes and more.

7. Visual Inspiration

Artists Robin Elliott-Knowles, Maya Ramnarine and Peter Quinnell share visual responses to Mary Seacole’s writing.
Explore Mary Seacole’s journey across the globe and through her life:

8. Book Quotes

Mary Seacole’s book reflects her nineteenth century world: