Bring the family to Jefferson Elementary’s StoryWalk

Students at Jefferson Elementary School in Mt. Lebanon read a passage from "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type" by Doreen Cronin at the school's StoryWalk.
Students enjoy a passage of Doreen Cronin’s Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type on the Jefferson Elementary School playground as a part of the StoryWalk.

Gather the kiddos and head to Jefferson Elementary to sing, dance, hop, skip and jump together, all while reading a delightful story as a family. Two StoryWalks made their debut on school grounds in early March, as a way to bring families together for a fun time that promotes literacy and physical activity. 

The Jefferson Elementary StoryWalks were the brainchild of library media teacher Karen Auslander and music teacher Jill Gummo. They were looking for a way to bring something positive to families during a year when things have been anything but normal. 

“It’s a great outdoor family activity that provides social distancing,” Auslander said. 

“It’s so nice to link literature and music together. It’s been so much fun,” Gummo added. 

The two had learned about the StoryWalk Project, created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, and developed in collaboration with her local library, Kellogg-Hubbard, as a way to keep families reading while enjoying the outdoors by laminating the pages of a book and posting them on boards stationed along a walking path. 

They knew this was something they wanted to bring to their Mt. Lebanon students. It took several months of planning, finding the right books, getting them laminated and ready to brace the wind, snow and rain, then setting up the walk on school grounds. 

“We were trying to offer something for everybody of all ages,” Gummo said. 

They selected Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, by Doreen Cronin, to display along the school’s playground fence. It’s a humorous tale about a farmer who must deal with issues with his cows that, you guessed it, can type. It’s great for youngsters of all ages—although specifically geared for pre-K to third grade, with the pages hung at their reading level. The teachers incorporated activities into the pages, including tasks that will have families skipping, singing and dancing through the playground. Bring a smart device and at the end of the walk there are even more fun activities for you to try! Scan the QR code to access a video of Leroy Anderson’s orchestral composition featuring a typewriter as a percussion instrument, or to get more information about the author. 

For the second StoryWalk, located near the school’s garden, the teachers selected The Great Kapok Tree, by Lynne Cherry, a picture book about rainforest conservation. The story has a deeper message and is likely better for youngsters in second through fifth grade—although it’s still a tale all ages can enjoy. 

“There’s a very powerful ending to the story,” Gummo said. 

The extra activities at the end of this StoryWalk are extra fun. This QR code allows you to watch and listen to current Jefferson Elementary fifth graders singing “If Everybody Would Plant a Tree” during their 2018 Spring Sing concert, or watch a show from Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki room

During Read Across America Week, teachers brought their students outdoors to enjoy one of the StoryWalks. Kids were encouraged to come back with their families to read the other book.

Families can visit the Jefferson Elementary School StoryWalks after 4 p.m. on school days or on the weekend. The StoryWalks will be up until late May. To access both StoryWalks, enter the school lot via Ruth Street. The Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type StoryWalk is attached to the fence on the school playground across from the main entrance. The Great Kapok Tree StoryWalk begins on the fence across the street from the B-3 entrance.