There’s nothing better than when I get to share my love of writing with students. My school programs are interactive, fast-paced and can be customized to appeal to learners of all ages. Calling upon my 11 years of teaching experience, I’m able to link my visits to relevant writing lessons.
Before the visit, we will discuss exactly what you’re looking for, so I can provide a program that’s tailor- made to fit your needs. I provide teachers with follow-up materials so learning can continue long after I leave.
My most popular school programs are:
Bugs for Breakfast
Based on my book, Bugs for Breakfast (Chicago Review Press, 2021), this program focuses on entomophagy (the practice of eating insects as food), sustainable food, and what changes we’re all going to have to make to feed the world’s growing population. Students will learn that one-fourth of the world’s population already eats insects. Crickets, for example, are packed with protein. Students will learn how insects are being raised and marketed. Several schools have promoted this program by conducting a school-wide food drive; the teacher whose class contributes the most non-perishable goods gets to dine on dung beetles or crunch crickets — in front of the whole school. Primary standard focus: Next Generation Science Standards. Click here for Teacher's Guide.
What do You Wonder?
What’s the highest a human has ever jumped? How fast does the world’s fastest train go? Those are the sorts of questions that fill my writer’s notebook. Curiosity has always driven my book ideas and it’s helped me develop a love for research. Yes, sometimes research involves reading through old books and files, but a lot of times it doesn’t. My research has required me to taste test cricket cookies, ride an elephant in a circus parade, and hang out backstage with a boy band. This interactive program shows students how my books have been shaped by curiosity — and by the research I’ve done to answer these questions. Students will leave understanding how my work as a nonfiction author relates to the work they do. Primary standard focus: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8
Design Inspired By Nature
You see tree branches — architects see a good way to add supports to a building’s roof. You see mussels clinging to an old pier — designers see inspiration for a super sticky underwater glue. In this fast-moving program, students learn about biomimicry — the practice of taking design inspiration from nature. We’ll look at examples of biomimicry in action through my books Transportation Inspired by Nature and Buildings Inspired by Nature (Capstone, 2020). Biomimicry can be used to solve human problems. Students will work as a group to identify a problem that needs to be solved and brainstorm ways nature already solves a similar problem. Best for groups of 40 or fewer. Primary standard focus: Next Generation Science Standards
2021-2022 School Year Pricing
A full-day, in-person school visit includes up to four presentations, lunch with small group of students, and a book signing. (General guideline is 45- to 60-minute programs for Grades 3-5 or 30- to 45-minute programs for Grades K-2). $600 within 100 miles of Tacoma, WA, no travel costs; $875 + travel costs for all others.
Half-day, in-person visits (two presentations) can be arranged for schools within 100 miles of Tacoma. $400 per half-day, no travel expenses. If you're further away, let's talk. Perhaps a nearby school would also like a visit, so travel costs could be shared.
Single programs available to schools within 30 minutes of Tacoma, WA. $250, no travel expenses.
Take $50 off any in-person program by participating in a signed book sale!
Programs can be presented in large assemblies gatherings, or in smaller workshop settings. I’m always happy to talk to teachers, administrators or parent groups to come up with a visit plan that fits your school needs and budget. It's possible I'm already traveling your way or your visit can be combined with another school to share costs. Contact me, and let’s see what we can do!
It’s not always practical to have an author travel to your school. And, yes, you can talk to students about research and the importance of reading, but sometimes they need to hear it from someone else. I’m happy to be that “someone else.”
Virtual visits (30 minutes + Q&A) can be scheduled for $150.
If you're choosing the BUGS FOR BREAKFAST presentation, with at least 10 days notice, I can send roasted crickets and an observation worksheet that helps students describe the sensory details of their tasting experience. This insect-tasting-in-a-box costs $30 for 30 students with discounts for larger groups. Ask me!
Take $50 off any virtual program by participating in a book sale. I'll send you signed book plates!
Interested? Drop me an email.
“Mary instantly had my active and energetic group of third graders enthralled with her conversations about not only research and the writing process, but also a variety of topics like biomimicry and entomophagy. My students have repeatedly been asking when Mary can come back and for me to read aloud another one of her books!”
— Carmen Cooke, 3rd grade teacher, Manchester, Iowa
“Mary’s enthusiasm and humor make for a completely engaging presentation. Not only did she share her passion for reading and writing, she brought a ‘snack’… BUGS! The way she helped my students make a connection from her book to real life was the talk of the class for the rest of the year. I am excited for Mary’s visit every year.”
— Tammy Bentley, 4th grade teacher, Tacoma, Washington
"Mary's presentation inspired students to think differently about how we use one of our Earth's resources — BUGS! Mary encouraged and answered all questions during Q&A time. Students connected with her as they understood even published authors face challenges, setbacks, and eventually the rewards of perseverance."
— Beth Janiec, 3rd grade teacher, Neshanic Station, New Jersey
Paying for School Visits:
If your school is interested in having an author visit but isn’t sure about how you’d pay for it, read this. You’ll find some terrific information about grants and ideas for fundraising.