Bring a StoryWalk to Your Neighborhood

Berkshire Athenaeum Has Pre-Made StoryWalks for Borrowing!

The Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, MA has over 20 StoryWalks for patrons to borrow for free!  StoryWalks are great way to promote literacy in young children while having them engage in outdoor activities.

Reading a book and taking a walk outside share many similarities for children – they are, first of all, things that take place frequently in the life of a young person.  Stories and time outdoors are also ways that kids learn about the world around them.  Books offer a look into other places, contexts, and cultures, and can teach kids about virtually any subject.  Out-of-doors trips are learning experiences, too – kids observe their environment, learn how to interact with it, and make discoveries about the world.  So why not combine the two!?  A StoryWalk does just that!

What is a StoryWalk?

Originating in Montpelier, VT, the concept takes classic children’s books (think Chicka, Chicka, Boom Boom and Where the Wild Things Are), enlarges them, divides them up into sections, and then posts them throughout an area like a park, downtown district, or a playground for families to read while they explore!  StoryWalks are a great way for kids to discover new stories – moving from section to section allows time for kids to process what they’ve read, ask questions, and share their thoughts just as they might in between pages during a normal read, but without the sitting still necessary for read-alouds at home.

Local Resource to Aid in Hosting a StoryWalk

StoryWalks can be used at schools, community centers, and daycares; they add learning experiences to community events and festivals; and promote literacy and literary appreciation!  Wish you could offer one to your students, share one with your neighborhood, or add one to an event?  The Berkshire Athenaeum has pre-made StoryWalk portfolios for borrowing!  There are stories of all types, ranging from Jan Brett classics to books about counting.  Each set includes laminated posters, instructions, and other useful resources (including some added by fellow StoryWalk borrowers).

The Berkshire Athenaeum has over 20 StoryWalk portfolios available to lend, including these titles:  Read the rest of this entry »

Early Spring Family Activities in the Berkshires

Early April in the Berkshires

Shoes  - Berkshire Family Fun

The snow is melting (finally) and if the predicted Nor’easter bypasses us this week then hopefully it will be smooth sailing through the rest of the spring. Besides the appearance of a little green (or brown as it is in my yard) another sign that spring is here is the abundance of family-friendly activities on the local calendars.

AN ADVENTURE WITH INDIANA JONES

Our family took a trip to Washington, D.C., last May and if you’ve never been, it is definitely worth putting on your bucket list. The five of us squeezed as much into our four-day trip as humanly possible — we have the holes in our shoes to prove it — and the best part of all was that all of the attractions were free. All except one of my kids favorite, of course: The Spy Museum. We don’t have a spy museum in the Berkshires but Sunday, April 3, the Clark Art Institute is featuring a lecture “In Pursuit of the Priceless: Tales from the FBI’s Real Indiana Jones.” I know a lecture may not sound like a family-friendly event, but the description has me intrigued and we may just be wandering to up North Berkshire County this weekend to check it out. The lecture will be given by former FBI special agent and best-selling author Robert K. Wittman, who will share the stories behind his recoveries of priceless art and antiquities, including the 2,000-year-old golden armor that was looted from the Royal Tomb of the Lord of Sipan in Peru, the rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of the nation’s first African-American regiments and an original copy of the Bill of Rights that was stolen by a Union soldier in 1865. Seems like just the thing my kids might be interested in. The event begins at 3 p.m. and it is free. The Clark is located on South Street in Williamstown. For more information call 413-458-2303 or go online to clarkart.edu.

TELL ME A STORY

I don’t know if any of you have heard of StoryWalks, the family-friendly phenomenon that is sweeping the Northeast, but they are taking the Berkshires by storm and I can write from experience, they are so much fun. The StoryWalk Project, began in Montpelier, VT, and were created by Anne Ferguson (visit vtbikeped.org for more information). StoryWalks deconstruct well-known children’s storybooks (in very large sizes) and mount the individual pages along a familiar walking route. Some have hosted StoryWalks on the main streets of their town or village, while others host StoryWalks at a specific location with activities and treats to go along with the theme of the book. On Saturday, April 9, from 10 to 11 a.m. the Family Resource Center will host a Family Fun Time event featuring a StoryWalk with the book “Shoes” by Elizabeth Winthrop at the Haskins Center, Route 8, North Adams. The event is free. For more information call 413-664-4821.

WHERE FOR ART THOU?

The language of Shakespeare can be daunting, especially for me. Try as I might, it just confuses me, but there are two upcoming events at two opposite ends of the county that aim to make Shakespeare and his text a little less elusive to kids (and their grown-ups). First up, the annual Williamstown Elementary School Shakespeare Festival on April 8. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and run until 8. Highlights of the event include potion-making, fencing and other Shakespeare-themed crafts and games. And get this, the WES fourth-graders will perform “Hamlet.” You go kids! The school is located on Church Street. For more information call 413-458-5707.

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