Author Visits


Click HERE or on  the Image Above to See One of Jena’s Visits

Author Visits

I believe that stories are at the heart of how we as human beings make sense of our world – how we discover who we are and learn about one another. Stories are the bridge that helps us come to terms with differences, learn empathy, compassion and kindness and find ways to collaborate and tackle common goals.  The wonderful thing about digital technology is that we now have many ways to tell our stories. Every kind of learner can be accommodated, and we have the opportunity to share our stories across multiple platforms.

As an author, I have been creating and teaching the craft of storytelling for more than 25 years. My particular area of expertise is the personal essay, but I’ve created and taught online classes in nature, food, environmental and memoir writing.  My students have included adults, college, high school and elementary age students as well as ESL learners. As you’ll see below, the CritterKin visits are geared to students in second through sixth grade, but I am more than happy to discuss customized lessons for older students as well. Here are some topics that are popular with older students and adults :

1.  Getting Started: How to tap your inner storyteller

2.  Story Versus Exposition: Exploring “show” versus “tell” and vice versa

3. Characters and You:  Crafting compelling characters and their stories

4. The Imagination Needs Noodling: Journaling to chronicle and shape your journey as a writer

5. It’s Not All About Words: Alternatives to traditional, linear, text based storytelling

6. Publishing: Finding a home for your work

Three Book-Transparent

CritterKin Author Visits – Story-driven Project Based Learning

CritterKin is both a children’s media property and a story-driven approach to education. It is based on the belief that every child, regardless of his or her learning style, has something important to contribute to the world, and that education is an ongoing, iterative process best accomplished by teaching the whole child. Each CritterKin visit includes an interactive reading, discussion and creative activity designed to help students experience, explore and integrate what they have learned.

CritterKin author visits can be broken down into three groups:

  • Single Visits: A one-time visit and reading
  • Three-Part Visits:  Requires three separate visits to complete a creative program and project
  • Six-week  Programs: Covers an entire book and related creative activities designed to explore the central themes of the book in-depth

Below is an example of both a single and a three-part program based on The Not Perfect Hat Club book. I offer similar programs for the other three books in the CritterKin series (see PDFs below for more details).

Share the Magic2

Introduce Your Students to Ms. Jenaia and Her Not Perfect Hats

Author, illustrator and educator Jena Ball is known for her engaging, laughter filled stories about the adventures of a goofy band of mixed breed dogs and the people who love them. Dressed as Ms. Jenaia, the retired teacher turned dog trainer in all her stories, Jena walks right out of the pages of her books and into the classroom wearing her signature overalls, work boots and Not Perfect Hat.

The Not Perfect Hat – a floppy, green sun hat that has seen better days – is the symbol and focus of her latest book and related programs entitled, “The Not Perfect Hat Club.” The goal of the book and Jena’s visit with children is to explore and redefine what it means to be perfect. “I want kids to understand that there’s no such thing as perfect, and their job is to find and explore what makes them special,” Jena says. Jena’s unique combination of interactive storytelling and creative project based learning has made her a favorite with students, teachers, administrators and parents:

“We had the best day ever! We had a chat with Ms. Jenaia (aka author Jena Ball). It was fun. We got to help save a dog’s life and draw it.” – Felisitee, 4th. grade student, Missouri

“CritterKin was really the most enjoyable experience I have ever had in my 17 years as an educator. I wouldn’t change what we did, and I’d do it all over in a heartbeat!” – Erin Preder, LMC Director, K-5 LMC REP for Valley View School District, Illinois

”Bella read The Not Perfect Hat Club to Zubi (our border collie)! She loved it. She LOVED Newton! She was so excited when I told her about it. I wish I had filmed her reading it. She is working on a little thank you video for you!” – Anna Carswell, mother of Bella and Head of Junior School, Shoalhaven Anglican School, New South Wales, Australia

 “Thanks for the invitation to such a great learning opportunity. You did a masterful job and I am so glad I was able to see it while it was happening! It makes me wish I was still teaching.” – James Michael Root, retired teacher, School Board Member, Liverpool CSD, New York

“ I love this program!!! It’s great on every level for kids – listening, learning and DOING! I especially love all the smiles, giggles and joy filling the room.” – Ann Feldman, District Technology Trainer, Adjunct Professor, Bellevue, Nebraska

Author Visit – Welcome to the World of Not Perfect Hats (1 Visit)

Grade Range: 1st-6th
Length: 45-60 min
Max Class Size: 35
Cost: $300
Purchase The Not Perfect Hat Club:

Dressed as Ms. Jenaia, Jena will visit your classroom and introduce students to the world of Not Perfect Hats. Each virtual visit consists of an interactive reading, a short discussion, and an art activity designed to help children to reflect on what it means to be Not Perfect. A quick show-and-tell will conclude the session.

Questions and Themes: What is perfection? Is it possible to be perfect? How can we be perfect at being ourselves? How can we find and share what makes us special? Why is it so important that we are all different?

Skills: Listening, reading, self-awareness, creative expression, promotion, self-awareness, teamwork and tech skills.

The Not Perfect Hat Club Young Entrepreneurs Project (3 Visits)

Grade Range: 2nd-6th
Length: 45-60 min
Max Class Size: 35
Cost: $1000
Purchase The Not Perfect Hat Club:

Dressed as Ms. Jenaia, Jena will visit your classroom and introduce students to the world of Not Perfect Hats through an initial reading, discussion and drawing exercise. Two more subsequent visits will focus on helping the students design, execute and devise a plan to promote and sell Not Perfect Hats of their own.

Questions and Themes: What is perfection? Is it possible to be perfect? How can we be perfect at being ourselves? How can we find and share what makes us special? Why is it so important that we are all different? What is the best way to use our creativity and voices to share what we learn with others?

Skills: Reading, writing, listening, basic math, budgeting, design and execution, persuasive writing, drawing, promotion and public speaking, creative self-expression and self-awareness, collaboration with others, the value of diversity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and having a voice in the world.

Three- Visit Programs (click on link below)

CritterKin Project Based Learning in the Classroom

To Learn More About Longer, Six-week Programs and Pricing, Please Contact Me Directly:

Jena Ball
Phone: 919-454-9917

Copyright 2015 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.