I came to Park in part because I love the ways in which the curriculum imagines the outdoors as a vital learning space. An appreciation of nature is at the core of my family’s values, and to find a school that shared that felt special.
As a librarian, my job traditionally resides in the space of the library, but I believe strongly that the library is much more than a collection of books in a walled-in space; I am always looking for ways to bring the library to the kids. This is now more important than ever.
In the summer of 2018, I found myself at Walden Pond in Massachusetts with my two little ones. There is a lovely trail that leads around the pond, but with little legs in tow, making it a mile around the pond was daunting. Enter the StoryWalk. My children’s eyes lit up when they saw the first panel of a picture book biography of Henry David Thoreau right there on the trail. After reading the first pages together, my once reluctant hikers raced down the trail to find the second panel, and the third, and fourth, and before I knew it, my children had enjoyed a story together, learned about Henry David Thoreau, and made it the mile around the pond. Each page on display acted like a sort of breadcrumb, leading my eager story lovers through the pages of the book and down the trail. I knew right then that the StoryWalk was something I needed to bring back to Park.
Combining stories with a walk in the woods feels like pure alchemy, and so I got to work. Everyone I spoke with at Park about the idea of creating a StoryWalk here on campus was excited, and we soon had a plan in place.
COVID-19 had other ideas. Instead of a spring opening, our first StoryWalk story, The Hike by Alison Farrell, was installed in time to welcome Lower School students back to campus this September. Knowing that all of our classes would be venturing outside more frequently this fall, we reimagined our initial plans, adding questions and activity suggestions to make the StoryWalk a more interactive learning experience. Whether for a class out on the trail during the school day, or a family taking a weekend stroll, the StoryWalk allows us to bring a little bit of the library into the woods.
With many classes eagerly making their way around Park’s pond this fall, our students are engaging in learning and building community by connecting shared stories with the wonders of the Park campus. While most months the display will feature a children’s book, I am excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with some of the amazing faculty here at Park to imagine new and creative ways to engage our community.
My hope is that our community will find the same sort of magic around Park’s pond that my children did when they first encountered a story spread along a trail at Walden Pond.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our School Spotlight Series. In this series, we spotlight our partner schools to give you a glimpse into what learning looks like on their campus. To learn more about The Park School of Baltimore, visit their directory listing in our Independent School Directory. Images were provided by the school. Want to become a school partner? Email us.