Written by Lynn Rushdi
We all know our kids need to move more than ever. My inspiration for Sycamore Lion Story Strolls was born from a series of discussions with our PE teachers about combining reading and movement, especially on days when classes can’t go outside for recess or when they just need a “Brain Break.” In the past, students at SyCamore Elementary in Collierville, TN have walked the halls during these indoor movement breaks, recording the number of steps each class took on a monthly basis. Collaboration with the PE department was the “spark” that fueled the new SyCamore Story Strolls, involving literacy and movement, which were unveiled this past winter. These activities provide reading in non-traditional settings and promote the library and books in different parts of our school building.
Literacy is my passion and combining movement with literacy is a natural pairing (especially since many of our students get the “wiggles”). I already have four “Read and Ride” stations in the library and wanted to extend these movement opportunities out within our school building. I had heard about the StoryWalk® program, started by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, and wanted to create something similar to that at SyCamore. I started small, creating one Story Stroll I posted in the halls at the beginning of the school year. The Story Stroll proved so popular with all of our students, that I wrote a grant to fund the creation of ten more strolls for our halls and the gym.
The first thing I needed to do when creating our Story Strolls, was to find ten picture books which would provide a good mix of reading and fun activities. After much searching, I chose the following titles: Cha-Cha Chimps, by Julie Durango, Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp, and The Bugliest Bug, by Carol Diggory Shields, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, and Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, Hide!, by Candice Fleming, If It’s Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws!, by Kim Norman, Halfway Wild, by Laura Freudi, Bounce, Wiggle, and Stretch, by Doreen Cronin.
Once I received the grant (under $500.00 for 10 strolls), I ordered the materials I would need. I ordered two new copies of each book, carefully took the books apart, and mounted the pages on poster board. Because I purchased new books and did not photocopy anything, there was no copyright infringement. Activities were written to go with each page of the book, printed and mounted, and then page numbers were added. Each Story Stroll features a vocabulary component because some students might not know the meaning of some words in the books. The vocabulary page is mounted on the wall next to the title and introduction page.
Once the boards were assembled, they were laminated and Velcro was attached to the back of each one for easy removal from the hall and gym walls. Red arrows are placed above each page to show the direction to move to the next page, about 25-30 feet.
Teachers have been using the strolls as a rainy day recess activity, brain breaks, examples of action words, counting by using the page numbers, prediction, letter and sound identification, locating sight words, choral reading, and just general fun. I get excited when I see a group or a single student reading the pages on their own as they move down the halls! Even our older students have been participating, and parents visiting with their children during early morning or evening school activities.
My goal this year was to have one new stroll, mounted and ready to go at the beginning of each month for the halls and three for the gym. Bounce, Wiggle, and Stretch, are the books for the gym, mounted on the walls and used as center activities with balls, hula hoops, and other assorted PE equipment. This program has had a tremendous impact on the physical and social emotional health of our students. We look forward to adding more Story Strolls next year!
Lynn K. Rushdi is the Library Media Specialist at Sycamore Elementary School in Collierville, Tennessee. Finding the perfect book for every child is her passion! She is a member of the TASL VSBA Middle Grade Selection Committee and on the Board of Directors of the Collierville Literacy Council.
Leave a Reply