How would you like to combine literacy with physical activity and time in nature? If this sounds like a winning combination to you, here’s how you can do it with your students and meet Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards (listed at the end of the lesson plan).
LESSON PLAN: Story Walk
During a Story Walk, students follow “trail signs” made from the pages of picture book. A Story Walk engages students in an aspect of nature that’s right outside your classroom or preps them for a nature field trip. I’ve provided book suggestions, but the Story Walk concept may be adapted to a wide variety of books and locations.
NOTE: This lesson is based on the community-wide project called StoryWalk® created by Anne Ferguson.
Suggested Grade Level: K-3 (older students like it too!)
- 2-3 copies of a book, 2 copies will be taken apart to make signs. One copy of the book to remain in the classroom
- Sentence strips, 1 per page
- A question or movement for each page to help maintain students’ focus
- Card stock for signs, enough for every page including the book cover
- Wooden stakes, enough for every page including the book cover
- Tacks or push pins to mount pages on stakes
- Optional: laminating sheets, 2 per page. Velcro squares, 4 per page (2 for card stock, 2 for stake)
Choose a book. (See suggestions below.) Take two books apart and mount the pages on card stock. Write a brief phrase or sentence that summarizes the page on a sentence strip. It’s recommended but not necessary that you laminate the pages. Position stakes around the school grounds to create a trail. The next page should be visible so that children can easily follow the trail. Pin pages to the stakes, or if using laminated pages, attach a Velcro square at the top and bottom of each page. Attach 2 Velcro squares on each post, matching the Velcro location on the card stock.
Find “Trail Guides”— parent volunteers or older students who will read the signs as they lead groups of younger children along the trail. Have Trail Guides read the story ahead of time and provide them with questions and/or movements for each page.
- Explain to students that they are going read a story page by page as they walk along a trail. Divide students into groups and assign each group a Trail Guide.
- Space out the groups so that there is only one group at a page at a time.
- When back in the classroom, have the class work together to put the sentence strips in the correct order. Read aloud the book to check for accuracy.
BOOK SUGGESTIONS BY LOCATION
Over in the Forest: Come & Take a Peek (by Marianne Berkes)—Children learn the ways of ten forest animals to the rhythm of “Over in the Meadow” as they leap like a squirrel, dunk like a raccoon, and pounce like a fox.
Gobble, Gobble (by Cathryn Falwell)—Follow a young backyard naturalist as arrow-shaped footprints lead her to a flock of funny-looking birds with big strong feet: Wild Turkeys!
Near a River
Over in the River Running Out to the Sea (by Marianne Berkes)—Children “slither” like water snakes and “slide” like otters while singing to the tune of “Over in a Meadow.” And they’ll count baby animals in watersheds all over No. America!
In a School Garden
Jo Mac Donald Had a Garden (by Mary Quattlebaum)—Jo is Old MacDonald’s granddaughter. Children make animal sounds and mimic Jo’s movements as they discover Jo’s garden, singing E-I-E-I-O as they go.
Molly’s Organic Farm (by Carol Malnor)—Children follow Molly, an adorable orange cat, as she romps, naps, and hunts among the vegetables. Along the way they learn about compost, companion plants, good bugs, and other essentials of growing organically.
In an Urban Area
The Dandlion Seed’s Big Dream (Anthony)—Children follow a dandelion seed on its adventures through the city, meeting hazards all along the way and achieving its dream in a miraculous way.
Common Core Standards (ELA K-3)
- ELA Reading and Literature: Key Ideas and Details (K.1, K.2, K.3, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.3); Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7)
Next Generation Science Standards (K-3)
- LS1.A: Structure and Function
- LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
- LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems.