Five schools within the UCDSB are participating in an outdoor book walk program in which large signs are set up as a pathway through the outdoor areas of schools. Each sign includes a page from a story, and the students walk from sign to sign to read the entire book.
Created by One World Schoolhouse Foundation, Storytime Trails use stories written by Canadian authors focused on themes of diversity, inclusion, and acceptance. The signs also contain built-in extras such as QR codes that link to specially made authors and illustrator videos.
“These outdoor signs include beautiful stories with many opportunities to engage student thinking, reflection, and meaningful conversation,” says UCDSB Principal of Teaching and Learning Amanda Nieman. “Ensuring that the trails spark meaningful discussion, they come equipped with incredibly rich and diverse teacher lesson plans so that our students, and educators, get the most out of this outdoor reading experience.”
The five participating schools include Front of Yonge Elementary School, Pineview Public School, Bridgewood Public School, Commonwealth Public School, and Maple Grove Public School and so far, the trails are getting rave reviews.
“The students were so excited to get to a Storytime Trail at our school,” explains Jennifer Peters, UCDSB Learning Partner, who lead the project at the school. “They ran from poster to poster to get to the next page! They noticed the features like the QR codes and icons and were excited to take a closer look at these elements in the classroom.”
The program launched in November 2021 and the long-term intent is to create a library-borrowing system in which schools can sign out the titles for their outdoor use.
“The value the Storytime Trail brings to a school community can be endless. The students have a chance to connect to the outdoors while exploring literacy, and they can also make connections with science, mathematics, equity, inclusion and social-emotional learning,” says Front of Yonge Elementary School Principal Rich Tamblyn.
The UCDSB will introduce the program to more schools in 2022 and has plans to expand on the existing titles in the Storytime Trails library.
“When we’ve had to get creative with our learning experiences over the past 18 months during the pandemic, Storytime Trails have been a welcomed and refreshing approach for our schools to adopt,” says Nieman. “We can’t wait to see what the winter lessons will bring our way.”