Michael Della Penna, 2nd Grade Teacher, Emeryville, CA raves about the book,
Dr. Electric Takes Over the World
Both my five-year-old, Leo, and I totally enjoyed it. As a teacher, I will say I enjoyed the juicy words, specific and purposeful language, and fine story.
As just me, I will agree with Leo and say it was AWESOME!
Should you book it? Absolutely! Very fun, entertaining, motivating and educational!
Mrs. Brannen, 1st-grade teacher
What do you do with the balloons after the shows?
In the assemblies, every student who helps up on stage gets to take his or her balloon home with them. However, to make sure the teachers still love me, they don’t take them back to the classroom. I put them in the school office for the students to pick up after school.
How far in advance do we need to book an assembly?
I book up to a year in advance, so it just depends on what other dates have already been booked by other schools. It’s best to have two or three dates available when you call, so you’re more likely to get an assembly date that works for you.
How many students can we have in each assembly?
Generally 250-300, but it’s really just limited to how many your multi-purpose room will easily hold. However, I recommend that each school have at least two assemblies since the Language Arts curriculum varies so much from the lower to the upper grades.
What age group are the assemblies designed for?
They're designed for a K-6 elementary school audience, though schools with a K-8 audience love them too.
Will my elementary upper grades really like this?
Absolutely, especially the creative writing part of the show. The older the students, the more they're working on their creative writing skills.
We’ve got a small school. Can we do one assembly for the entire school?
Yes, and everyone will enjoy the show. However, to get the most educational value, I suggest at least two shows, one for the primary grades and one for the upper elementary grades so I can target the assembly to what they're learning in class.
We’re having a family fun night. Do you do just a regular comedy show without the educational content?
Sure. When I perform a show at a family night, I leave out a lot of the "educational" details so the parents can relax and enjoy the show with their kids. The show is always storytelling based and always funny -- but I challenge you not to be motivated to read more exciting books when we're done.
What in the world is Balloon Storytelling?
Balloon Storytelling is a mashup of comedy storytelling and balloon twisting, creating a very silly and interactive "Balloon Theater" experience for your students. I use balloon costumes & props, audience actors, and goofy sound effects to make books come alive, right in your multi-purpose room.
Tech requirements: Do you need a special stage for the assemblies?
Most schools have a multi-purpose room, a cafeteria, a library, or some other large space designed for assemblies.
I need an inside performing area of approximately 15 feet deep x 20 feet wide, access to electricity (I bring my own sound system), student seating area on the floor in front of performing area, and chairs for teachers to the sides of the students. I'll arrive around an hour early to set up for the show.
We want to buy your book and maybe some souvenirs. Can we?
You bet! My assembly packages come with a discount if you want to offer my book to your students.
Also, any time I come to your school for a family fun night or a book fair, we can set up a table at the back where your students can buy the Dr. Electric book, joke and activity books, etc. A portion of the sales will also go back to your PTA -- Bonus!
Our budget was cut. Do you offer discounts?
See above about book sales. You can also team up with another school in your area to book me on the same day or the next day, and both schools will get a discount.
Can you perform outside?
Yeah ... but it's not the best choice, because of the balloons. It's always best to have the assemblies inside, but sometimes the family night can work just fine outside, especially if you have an outside space shaped like a courtyard instead of a big open space. I evaluate each site on an individual basis because I always want to deliver the best show possible for you.
Do you have classroom follow-up materials?
Absolutely. I have all sorts of tools for the teachers to use before and after the assembly to get the most value for their students.
Are you insured?
You betcha. I carry full liability insurance, and a PTA Additional Insured Certificate and Hold Harmless Agreement are on file with the California State PTA.
Do you have all-day author visits that include things such as "lunch with the author" and other perks?
Yes! I can set up shop in the library or other large room, and we can have grade-level workshops and all sorts of fun things all day long. Each one of these is customized to fit what's happening at your school.
For Elementary School Visits
When you do both assemblies and the family night, do you tell a different main story at night?
Absolutely. I've been doing this for so long, I have stories coming out of my ears. I also have a special finale for the evening show, The Giant Balloon of Doom, which I tell the kids about at the end of the assemblies. This finale is something everyone will talk about for months after the show.
Can we hire you for our school carnival?
The Balloon Comedy Show can be great for a school carnival, but I'm not the person you want to hire to make balloons for kids who are standing in a line. However, I would love to come and teach a group of your students how to twist balloons so they can make them for all of the guests at your carnival. Round up a bunch of 6th graders or teen volunteers and give me a call!
What about latex allergies?
The balloons don't go to the audience or the classrooms, so children with latex allergies can stay away from the balloons. Also, most of the rooms I perform in are very large, holding around 300 children. The powder that can be released when a balloon pops is minuscule compared to the amount of air in the large room, so if the child isn't close to the stage, it shouldn't be a problem. If there is a child with latex allergies at your school, your school will already have protection procedures in place, since latex rubber is present in many items in every school.
What stories do you tell?
The main story I tell is from my own book published in January 2015, Dr. Electric Takes Over the World! In the 2016-2017 school year, I'm also giving a sneak peek at my next book, Superhero Lunchbox.
In addition, I tell stories from other published books when I have permission from the author, or if the story is in the public domain, like a fairy tale or greek myth.
Do the kids need paper and pencil?
Not for the assemblies. We write our story as a group and everything we need is on the stage. If you schedule a grade-level workshop, then students bring their pencils and I provide the worksheets.
Of all things, why balloons?
Kids LOVE balloons. It’s my superpower. If you see one of your friends dressed up in balloons and helping tell a story on stage in front of your whole school, I'll bet you'll remember it for a while.
You did a great job of engaging the students and also establishing behavior expectations. You also did a good job of protecting the self-esteem of students who froze up or got intimidated.
Scot Harvey, 3rd-grade teacher
Longley Way Elementary
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Can you come every Friday?
Wendi Fleer, K-3 teacher