Award-winning spoken word artist and author of children's fantasy adventure series Faerie Tales from the White Forest, Danika brings a unique combination of skills to the classroom. Her background in performing arts and education informs her workshops and interactive assemblies to create unique, lively events. With 25 years experience working with children through poetry, spoken word, storytelling and world-building, Danika has visited hundreds of schools, libraries and festivals across North America and has delivered programming for the Canadian Children's Book Centre, Learning Through the Arts, the Creative Writing for Children Society, Capilano University, ABCDE Sears Drama Festival, and Vancouver Public Library. Rather than a "teacher" of creative writing, Danika prefers to think of herself as a facilitator coaxing forth the magic and holding the space within which creativity can happen. She enjoys helping students find their unique voices through their own poetry, song, fiction, and spoken word giving them the tools, skills, and autonomy to fully express themselves.
Danika is energetic, spunky and upbeat, all the while staying very relaxed in front of an audience of over 100 students sitting on the library floor. She maintained their rapt attention for an hour by interacting with them and engaging them in world and rhythm play and her famous Thunderbug Symphony. Katy Ackerson, Librarian, Parkview Elementary
Danika devised creative, interactive and informative workshops with our Grade 8 and 9 classes and was open to adapting her lessons to the needs of our students. Danika's delight in writing speculative fiction was evident in her workshops, and she inspired our students to write as well. Margaret Yee, Teacher-Librarian, Southridge School
Danika's workshop was really, really fun... It was a bazillion really funs! Olivia, Student, Loyal Heights Elementary
Danika's Building Imaginary Worlds workshops (or residencies) are a hit with students due to the quick manner in which she engages them in the world-building process. She first introduces students to her own fantasy worlds and then delivers a step-by-step process in the craft of world-building. The students work individually (or in small groups) to design imaginary world maps, populate their new worlds, and bring them to life. These exercises can be self-contained or be used later by a teacher as a jumping off point for creative storytelling and writing. The beauty of this workshop is that students of all ages and skill levels are able to participate, and it allows them autonomy over their own creative process and product. Curricular connections: social responsibility, creative and critical thinking. Subject crossovers: geography, anthropology, sociology, politics.
Danika's popular Imaginary Worlds tours and assemblies are experiential and generative, meaning students walk away with something new that they have created. A combination of interactive songs, innovative exercises and a storytelling performance, her assemblies are energetic, pure edu-tainment, and meant for large audiences. Whether students are familiar with her books or not, she brings the characters to life and engages the students in populating their own imaginary worlds with fantastic beings and fresh language. In addition, Danika offers teachers information about how to expand the students' experience in the classroom.
Danika's speculative fiction workshop (or residency) is a great addition to any English, writing, or dramatic arts class. After a romp through the subgenres of speculative fiction (from steampunk to gothic horror), students use a collaborative mash-up exercise to generate brand new subgenres as a jumping off point for creative storytelling. Next, students take previously produced and published material and twist it in a fantastic way. During longer residencies, these story scenarios are developed into polished stories for a class anthology. (Danika's well-received Dystopian Fiction Workshop focuses specifically on this popular subgenre.) Curricular connections: creative and critical thinking, personal awareness, social responsibility (in particular for the dystopian fiction workshop)
Through a series of exploratory exercises, students develop a series of personal poems and spoken word performances. Material can be easily adjusted for different levels of ability. Exercises develop each individual's voice, as well as challenge students to collaborate through multi-voiced or collaged written work. Danika's unique exercises go beyond "fill in" poetry to unleash the spontaneous, quirky, and profound being within. In a safe and supportive environment, poetry allows a freedom lacking in other forms of writing, and individual expression is celebrated in a way that builds both confidence and self-awareness. Curricular connections: creative and critical thinking, personal and cultural identity, personal awareness.