Monday, June 6, 2016

A Story Can Be… A Nature Walk and A Community Builder By Kathy Halsey

A writer can wear many hats as children's writer Laura Purdie Salas tells us in her monthly e-news, "A Writer Can Be..." (Sign up here.) A story can be more, too, I discovered. I hit the Story Trail with intermediate/middle school writers via a collaborative project this winter in conjunction with the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Art Garden Studios, and Gahanna Lincoln schools. Children's Director Angie Sharkey, librarian Kathe Bumbaugh and I instructed six budding writers as we created 14 story board "spreads."  Our finished product, GOING ON A NATURE WALK, debuted over Memorial Day. This is our story process in case you'd like to replicate the idea in a park near you. ( Be sure to check w/Dawes Arboretum as the StoryTrail is trademarked by them.


The seed for our tale germinated with Dawes StoryTrail when Shutta Crumm's book, BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE, was featured. (See her blog post for details here.) Gahanna Parks and Recreation and the Gahanna Library branch were given permission to borrow the trail idea, and now five years worth of stories have been created! Mounted under glass, on wooden frames set low to the ground for little eyes to read, the stories last one complete year. Older stories are being mounted in other parks this year. According to Recreation Supervisor Zac Guthrie, each installation costs approximately $1500. Children and families have fun exploring the outdoors and learn that reading can happen anywhere.



Denise Fleming's IN THE TALL,TALL GRASS

This year's student writers relied on a mentor text to give structure to their tale, GOING ON A NATURE WALK. In six weekly hour-and-a-half sessions, students journeyed through writing a picture book by:

  • reading/discussing science and nature-related picture books
  • brainstorming ideas for their collaborative book
  • making a dummy draft using giant post-it notes
  • revising their draft by changing spreads, adding figurative language, paying attention to the sound and rhythm of text
  • looking for plot and character arc in the story.



Student writers at the Ribbon-cutting Ceremony


GOING ON A NATURE WALK as well as the other Story Trail titles helps families to encourage early literacy skills. The Ready to Read program skills embedded in the board spreads encourage storytelling, ABCs, sounds, and loving books. All 14 story boards include illustrations created by Cera, a Gahanna Lincoln High School senior, paired with a reading skill activity selected by our librarians. 

A story like this can also be a springboard for a writer like you to engage with your local librarians and community. It may lead to future projects, just as mine did. This June, the Gahanna library branch hired me to teach a picture book class for the summer reading program. I know my volunteer work with the Story Trail gave others the chance to see my work in action! Thank you librarians and student writers for a wonderful opportunity! 



 



27 comments:

  1. What a neat idea, Kathy. Watch out, world. Future writers are on their way to success.

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    1. Yes, Sherri, they did enjoy themselves and felt so proud to have this in THEIR community!

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  2. What an awesome idea, Kathy!

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    1. Thanks, Pat. I just loved participating in year 5!

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  3. I love this idea! It would be great to replicate it along an existing nature trail here.

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    1. Yes, Leslie, this would be "write" up your alley!

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  4. I love this idea! It would be great to replicate it along an existing nature trail here.

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  5. Love this and thinking I might pitch it to our parks people here!

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  6. Let me know if you do, Cathy. I can connect you with my public librarian, Angie S. She has the deets.

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  7. Thanks so much for this, Kathy. I want to pitch this to our library. (BTW, the post looks great!)

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    1. Thanks, Patty. I hate the font problem though!

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  8. I'd love to pitch this too. Sounds incredible! Great post and great project!

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    1. Hey, Steve, we can give you details.

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  9. Great adventure and those new writers are on their way! Thank you for sharing, Kathy :)

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    1. And thanks for reading this, Charlotte!

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  10. A thrilling idea. Love the pictures❤️

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    1. Thanks, Janie. Aren't the kids the best?

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  11. Thanks for the shoutout, Kathy--and what a fabulous project! Such a cool way to nurture young writers and celebrate books and nature.

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    1. TY, Laura! I am humbled that you came over to read this.

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  12. GOING ON A READING ADVENTURE WITH KATHY HALSEY is always an
    enlightening experience here at this Group Blog, Kathy.

    This is fantabulous. I look forward to reading more, via the links.

    And yay! about your picture book class at the library!

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  13. What fun opportunities you have & create! I like that you're proactive in your community!

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  14. SwagBucks is a very recommended get-paid-to site.

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