West Ridge Nature Preserve, Park Advisory Council (PAC)

Chicago Park District

Anne Ferguson, a Vermont health department employee, created the prototype for the StoryWalk. She wanted to increase physical activity, early literacy and family time in nature. When Arleen Brennan, a PAC volunteer and retired teacher, leaned about the StoryWalk, she immediately jumped on the idea.

 

She asked volunteer Michel Panozzo to create twelve wooden storyboards that were put on posts and installed with Plexiglas and screws to enable the changing of stories. The content of the storyboard varies with the season and Family Nature Day themes.

In the beginning, Arlene used books that were ten pages long (one for each storyboard plus introduction and acknowledgements). She installed new books every few months.

 

When the PAC began to sponsor field trips, the use of the storyboards changed. The local school teacher chooses a theme and PAC volunteers lead a field trip focused on the theme. Then a volunteer returns to the classroom to guide related writing and drawing.


Last winter, a sixth grader asked if she could write a nature-related story. We posted her story and held an author’s hour at a Family Nature Day. She talked about her story and answered people’s questions.

StoryWalk is copyrighted, but there are no dues, fees or rules for making it one’s own except for posting the word “StoryWalk” and Anne Ferguson’s name in an acknowledgement. The idea has taken off and now is used worldwide in many ways, including schoolyards, parks, forest preserves and nature trails.