SIOUX CITY — For years, parents have encouraged their kids to get outside for some fresh air or turn off the TV and read a book.
Kids can now do both at the same time at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center.
Work began Wednesday on the installation of the Tale Trail, an addition to the center’s trail network in which nature and animal-themed storybooks will be displayed page by page on metal racks placed along the Loess Loop Trail. While walking the trail, children and their parents can follow the story by stopping at each of the 20 stations. By the time they’re done, they’ll have read a book and walked half a mile.
“Our goal is to inspire literacy in young children and their families as well as science and nature,” said naturalist Theresa Kruid.
As children walk from station to station, they may also realize that the birds, animals, plants and trees they see along the way are just as interesting as the story. they read or something they would see on TV.
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“We want them to become aware of the outdoors,” Kruid said.
As she, Tyler Flammang and Kari Sandage set up the first vantage point at the trailhead, Kruid pulled out the laminated pages of “On the Nature Trail,” a colorful book filled with pictures of birds and birds. animals, some of which might be encountered here.
Nature Center staff members hope that reading a book along the trail will get kids excited about nature, which will keep them coming back to the Nature Center for more activities. Maybe they’ll even convince their parents to visit other parks and conservation areas run by the Woodbury County Conservation Board.
“Anything to get kids outside and away from electronics,” Kruid said.
Call the Tale Trail one of the positive things to come out of the COVID pandemic.
The idea was inspired by StoryWalk, a children’s literacy project created in 2007 by a Vermont woman in which pages of books are displayed along walking paths, encouraging children to read and be active outside. outside. StoryWalk trails are now found in all 50 states and more than a dozen countries.
Kruid thought it would be an interesting addition to the Nature Center, but the idea was shelved. When COVID shut down indoor programming at the Nature Center and other indoor activities were canceled, parents began taking their children hiking the trails and playing outside, one of the few activities which they could still enjoy during the pandemic.
Seeing this, Kruid said the idea of a StoryWalk trail resurfaced as an additional outdoor activity the Nature Center could offer. As planning progressed, Nature Center staff named it Tale Trail because it didn’t quite fit all the parameters of StoryWalk, a registered company. The Nature Center received $5,000 grants from the Siouxland Community Foundation and CF Industries to purchase the displays. Books were donated.
Stories will rotate every two to four weeks throughout the year. If the book isn’t long enough to fill the 20 stalls along the trail, the others will be filled with nature-related information.
There hasn’t been a promotion yet, but Kruid said local literacy group Prime Age to Engage is already excited to get the kids on the trail. The Storytelling Trail could be one of the many classroom field trips that take place here or something families can do on their own, even when the nature center isn’t open.
Booth setup was completed on Friday, and Kruid said she hopes the first book will be displayed on the trail next week.
“We already have people excited,” she said. “I think it will be a great addition.”
Seems like a much more fun way to spend a nice spring day than parking in front of a TV or staring at a cell phone screen.