Big Stories of Life and Death – the narrative powers of children by Deb Wilenski and Laura Magnavacchi

‘People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it's the other way around’ (Terry Pratchett, author).

Exploring examples from children’s own story-making (ages 0 – 7 years) this workshop focusses on the languages of narration, drama and the creative imagination; the big ideas driving children’s stories and how to build these into curriculum; and why we should celebrate the revolutionary power of story-making in children’s and educators’ learning.

Deb Wilenski

Deb Wilenski is a pedagogical consultant, educator, writer, and graphic designer working with Reflections Nursery and Forest School (West Sussex, UK) and Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (Cambridge, UK).

With a background in Biological Anthropology and the Arts, she is inspired by the preschools and infant-toddler centres of Reggio Emilia, the woodland nurseries of Scandinavia, and by projects which value children as radical makers of culture and meaning.

Deb works with educators and children through creative projects, pedagogical discussion, direct observation and documentation. She believes strong, creative, purposeful children need strong, creative, purposeful educators, and much of her work focusses on developing these qualities. She presents regularly at conferences and professional days in the UK and abroad.

Deb is the author of The Revolutionary Baby (with Laura Magnavacchi), The Fire Monster (with Laura Magnavacchi and Mandy Jenkins), 37 Shadows – Listening to children’s stories from the woods, and A Fantastical Guide to Hinchingbrooke Country Park (with Caroline Wendling). She is currently working on The Dark and Luminous Forest – Children’s explorations of light, sound and vision in the wild outdoors.

Laura Magnavacchi

Laura Magnavacchi is an Artist, Atelierista, Early Childhood Educator and Pedagogical Consultant from Italy.

She worked 3 years in Italy where she experienced Reggio Children pre-schools developing an interest in the Atelier (art studio) and the role of Atelierista (artist who works alongside children).

She then worked 4 years as Atelierista and Forest School Leader at Reflections Nursery in the UK where her passion lay in outdoor learning and the relationship between art, nature and education.

She is currently working in New Zealand as Atelierista and Pedagogical Consultant.

Laura has a degree in Education, a degree in Fine Art and qualifications as Forest School Leader and Designer. Her current research interest is in how early education is developing, especially through creative languages, in different contexts around the world.

Laura is co-author/graphic designer of books for children and educators such as Storying, The Fire Monster, The Revolutionary Baby, From Bacteria to Galaxies and Homely. Her art practice includes painting with mixed media, etching and photography. She is interested in the relationship between opposite but connected concepts that can live together through art, especially the dialogue between light and dark and different material.

Her own art work has been selected for exhibitions in Italy.

Additional Info

  • Timetable: Friday, Session 1, 10:00-11:30 Klementinum