K-12 Classroom Workshops



1. Creative Writing

2. Japanese Culture (K-6)


3. Ancient China (K-8)


4. Origami Geometry (K-12)

Creative Writing Workshop: Fun with Folktales (K-6)


Group story writing (K-2): The whole class will create one story modeled after a folktale. Emphasis on nonviolence, originality, and democratic decision making.


Individual story writing (Grades 3-6): Students will write original stories that reflect their values and beliefs, using a traditional tale as a model. They will gain understanding of how to develop an organized sequence that will engage the reader. Discussions include folktale motifs, plot, morals, and non-violent problem solving.


Creative Writing Workshop – Stories Я Us: Personal Narratives (K-6)


The class will play an old storytelling game of sharing personal experiences (either true or make-believe.) Discussions include narrative structures, honesty and creativity, suspense and humor. Each student then writes and illustrates a short story based on their own experience and imagination. (Read more.)


Creative Writing Workshop: Haiku Riddles (Grades 2-5)


A haiku (high-coo) is a traditional form of poetry from Japan. A haiku consists of three lines. The first line has five syllables. The second line has seven, and the last line has five. A haiku usually is about something simple from nature that suggests a season. There is no rhyme in haiku.


In this workshop students create haiku that work as riddles. This means that each haiku is about a thing (or an animal), but it does not say exactly what the thing (or the animal) is. The haiku only gives clues, and the reader must guess what it is talking about.



Here are some examples of haiku riddles. (See more.)


Made from trees and ink

I’m full of words, fun and wise,

for you to enjoy


Snow white, ruby eyes

I can hear you from afar

with my floppy ears


Morning sun shines on

teardrops from a frozen spear

piercing winter sky


Creative Writing Workshop: Personal Stories of Change and Growth (Grades 7-12)


As young adults mature, they constantly learn from their families, peers, educational institutions and community that shape their values and opinions. This unit teaches students through writing to reflect on their experiences in a positive light. It also encourages them as writers not to be limited by the actual facts, but to use their creative imagination in order to explore who they are and who they can be.


Students will write a story that

  • talks about their personal growth, reflecting who they are and what they believe in
  • is based on their life experiences, with some room for creative imagination
  • includes a ‘focused snapshot’ of their lives: a moment or anecdote that has shaped them
  • has a beginning, middle and end, with dialogue, descriptions, details, emotions, and humor



For a sample story click here.


Japanese Culture Workshop (K-6)


A 45-60 minute session starts with a brief discussion on geography, climate, and housing in Japan, and moves on to a specific cultural topic (of the teacher’s choice) with related folktales, songs and art. It helps students gain an accurate picture of contemporary Japan while providing them with a sense of history.


Each classroom teacher will choose one of the following topics: (see details)


  • Children’s Day (Grades K-4)
  • The Doll Festival/Girls’ Day (Grades 1-4)
  • Sumo Wrestling (Grades K-4)
  • Oni Monster in Japanese Folklore (Grades K-4)
  • Japanese New Year (Grades K-4)
  • Japanese Writing System and School Life (Grades 2-6)
  • Origami Storigami (Grades 1-6)
  • Calligraphy Lesson (Grades 2-6)


Ancient China Workshop (K-8)


A long-time student of Chinese language and folklore, Motoko made a trip to China in 2006. She visited a tiny rural village of Geng Cun (population 1,200) with 600-year-old storytelling tradition. Motoko will share the folktales and songs she learned there, and discuss her experiences with the village elders and children.


Each classroom teacher will choose one of the following topics:


  • Chinese New Year
  • Dragon Tales
  • The Legend of Silkworm Grandmother
  • Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di and the Great Wall
  • Panda Bear and Ecology of China
  • Chinese Calligraphy


Origami Geometry Workshop (K-12)


Geometry comes alive with fun origami and engaging stories! Parents’ Choice Award-winner Motoko will use age-appropriate origami projects as a tool to develop students’ focus, imagination, and skills in spatial reasoning. Following her step-by-step instructions, students will create 2- and 3-dimensional objects; identify geometric features (such as angles, lines, and symmetry); and figure out areas and volumes while producing pieces of art.


(Click here for Origami Resources for Teachers)




Motoko Dworkin

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