Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Story Trail Partnership & Process

In this post I'll be discussing the specifics of the latest partnership between my library and the local parks & recreation department to put on a story walk (in this case re-named Story Trail).

Our parks and recreation department contacted us over the winter inquiring about ways in which we, the library, could partner with their department. One of the ideas we came up with was installing a story walk type program in three of the local county parks during the upcoming months -- May, July and August. Each program would run for just over a week (10 days).

I took a tour of all the parks in the county to select which ones would work best for this program. High on my list of priorities was that the park have paved trails to be accessible by all (wheelchairs, walkers and strollers). Some county parks did not have paved trails. Additionally, I wanted to be sure the parks selected had manageable enough loops for the story trail to work. Considering our target age was 5 and under I didn't want any looped trail to be more than a mile since that would be too long for 3-and-4-year-olds.

Then I selected the books that we would display on these three story trails (three separate books). Again, I took into consideration the population and dynamic of each individual park.

The first park selected is one in a highly populated, diverse population. I wanted to choose a book that did not require a lot of reading, and more important, not a lot of reading in English. The book ideally would be one that could be understood without much reading at all.

For this story walk I selected "From Head to Toe" by Eric Carle.
This book was then purchased in big book format. I purchased three copies, two for the actual program and one held in reserve in case repairs were necessary.

I then took the book apart (literally) with a staple remover and cut each page down the middle, save the center page which was kept intact for that page spread of the story. All other pages were then matched up and carefully trimmed and taped together to create the pages of the book for the program.

My library system has a large laminating machine so I put the pages through the laminator to make them more durable (paper alone would shred and disintegrate during hard rain, something inevitable during the month of May). I also created numbers to place with the book indicating the progression through the story walk page-by-page. I also made sure to laminate the cover of the book, giving credit to the author/illustrator (in this case, Eric Carle) and publisher (HarperCollins).

Additionally, I created a "welcome" sign indicating what the program was, who was sponsoring the program, what families could do with the story trail, and the social media hashtag for any photos families took to post online.

Then it was on to the sign holders.
I did not have a ton of money so had to come up with a design that was portable and removable (for the other two sites) yet strong enough to last for the duration of the story trail (11 days for May).

The design I finally came up with was one involving a trip to Home Depot.
I purchased five large pieces of plywood and had staff cut them down into the size I needed for my signs (in this case, 36"x18", to meet the needs of all three of the books I had selected). I also purchased 1"x3" pieces of wood for the stakes as well as reinforcements in the way of metal stake holders.

I went with the green metal
stake, purchased from
Another stake option,
not nearly as strong
as the green metal.
Each wooden stake was sawed off at the bottom to create a point and then screwed onto the back of the piece of large plywood. This stake then was screwed into the metal reinforcement (metal stake) which was first placed in the ground at site. The pages of the book and sign numbers were stapled onto the plywood with a heavy duty staple gun.

Installing the story trail took about an hour to do (I used a wheelbarrow to transport 5-6 of the signs at a time with "help" hauling the metal stakes along with me). First the metal stake was pounded into the ground (it was essential that the stakes not make huge deep holes in the park
grounds). Then I took the plywood sign, used my staple gun to attach the page of the book to the front of the sign (along with the number) and the wooden sign and stake were then pounded in alongside the metal stake with a heavy mallet (owned by me). Screws were used to firmly attach the wooden stake to the metal stake and -- voila! Relatively durable and lasting (at least for 10-12 days :-)

Oops ... crooked sign
needing some tlc.
Rain storm whipped one
page completely into the
nearby field.
Once the story trail was up, I did "inspect" it almost every day. Most days were fine, no adjustments needed. The most common fix was re-stapling edges of the books to ensure that they wouldn't fly off in a wind storm. It did rain and although the pages appeared to be a bit damp where the staple holes had punctured the laminated sheet, for the most part the book
pages came through beautifully.

The perfect photo -- Mama Goose
and her goslings enjoying
the Story Trail!
Overall, a very worthy project and partnership with our parks and rec department. I'd say that between the copies of the big books and the materials (plywood, stakes, staple gun staples [I already owned a staple gun]) the library invested no more than $150-$200 in the project. Definitely worth the investment!

Future story trails will host the books "From Caterpillar to Butterfly" by Deborah Heiligman in July at a park in a more affluent community during a month when caterpillars are becoming butterflies, and "Leaf Man" by Lois Ehlert in September at a much more woodsy park during the month when leaves begin to change color. Both books are available in big book format.

Sun & Moon

What lives in the sky?
What can you see at night?
What can you see during the day?

All was revealed at storytime today ...

I started with the now out-of-print book by Nancy Tafuri, "What the Sun Sees/What the Moon Sees". Kids got a big kick out of the fact that the book was a two-for-one that flipped over to tell two stories.

My second selection was one of my MOST FAVORITE STORYTIME BOOKS EVER ... "Kitten's First Full Moon". The awesome power of Kevin Henkes and his silly little kitten always make me smile ...
I shared two fingerplays, one on the sun and one on the moon.
Despite the fact that these are not one fingerplay, if presented correctly together they can make one cohesive rhyme :

Grandma Moon, Grandma Moon (make a "c" in the air with your R hand)
You're up too soon! (shake L finger at moon in the air)
The sun is still in the sky ...
Go to bed ... (head on hands, mimicking sleep)
And cover your head ... (cover head with hands)
And wait for the day to go by (twirl finger in air)
In the morning the sun wakes up (point to the left)
And marches all the day (move pointing finger up)
At noon it stands straight overhead (point directly up in the air)
And at night? It goes away ... (move finger down to other side and behind back)

Our next book was Frank Asch's "The Sun is My Favorite Star" which is always interesting to share with preschoolers ... they don't quite believe you when you tell them that our sun is actually a star ... moment of disbelief.
I got to do a DRAW AND TELL STORY (be still my heart) which I did adapt a little bit to make more understandable to preschoolers and toddlers ... but such a cute little story about mouse and the sun & moon ...

How Mouse Became Small and Grey

A long, long time ago sun and moon were in the sky
... and they became caught in a snare!

Back then, the biggest animal on earth was mouse.
So all the animals asked if mouse would go up and free the sun and moon from the snare so that earth could once again have night and day.
Mouse went up to the sky and gnawed on one side of the snare to try and free sun.
Mouse was unable to free sun and in return the hot sun burned bright and covered mouse's body with a fine grey ash.
Mouse tried to free moon by gnawing on the other side of the snare.
Mouse gnawed and chewed until finally ... the sun and moon were set free!
However, the heat from the sun burned so hot that poor mouse melted away until he was practically nothing at all.
But all the animals on earth knew what mouse had done and gave him a safe place to live on the forest floor.
And that is how mouse turned small and grey. 

This story went beautifully into my last book, "The Mouse Who Ate the Moon" by Petr Horacek.

I ended storytime with a flannel version of Frank Asch's "Happy Birthday Moon". As soon as I started one kid yelled, "oh, I know this story ..." so I had to gently shush him so he didn't give away the surprise ending!
to make into a flannel, simply make the bear, the hat, the moon and the tree.

Our take-home activity sheet was a "Talk Together" activity where kids could have a discussion about what they do during the day as opposed to the night with their caregivers.
for at-home or at-library use only