An elementary teacher in the Tustin Unified School District has turned a simple walk around campus into a fun, interactive — and educational — activity for the whole family.
Last year, when the pandemic forced students and staff to move to distance learning, Jesse Holmes, a fourth-grade teacher at Hicks Canyon Elementary School in Irvine, came up with the idea for the “Storybook Walk.”
Holmes recently told the Orange County Register that the main goal of the storybook walk was to get children off of their iPads and outdoors while promoting social distancing.
Set up along a pathway in front of the school, the Storybook Walk features pages and illustrations from an entire book spaced out on walls and fences on the school’s campus. Students start at one end of the path, read a page aloud and continue along the walkway until the entire book is read.
“I wanted to see families spending time together while also being educational. It’s been a huge hit with our community and school,” said Holmes. “Students love walking to and from campus reading a good book.”
Holmes said that funding for the idea came from a Donors Choose grant she wrote in August 2020. It was recently fully funded by the Gates Foundation and anonymous donors. As part of the grant, she received a total of five books with the intent to rotate every two months with a new book.
All books promote social emotional learning, diversity and inclusion.
“Our first book was ‘Good Morning, Yoga,’ which promoted yoga moves, stretches and mindfulness, and our current book is ‘The Bad Seed,’” Holmes said.
“I hope to continue this tradition even after the pandemic and increase our storybook library with other diverse reads.”
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