New ASD program is getting kids outdoors and reading at the same time

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 5:57 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage School District’s new physical education program is getting kids outdoors, and reading at the same time.

A trail in the woods behind Ravenwood Elementary has an unusual addition. Every few feet there’s a page of a book, laminated and posted for people to read.

The new program, called “P.E. Paths – Tales on Trails,” is a way to combine physical exercise and literacy, according to Ravenwood PE teacher Caela Nielsen, who helped get the project off the ground.

“I think we’ve learned that kids need to move to activate their brains,” Nielsen said. “So this is the perfect way to integrate literature and movement together.”

The featured book is “Dream Flights on Arctic Nights” by Brooke Hartman. The book is about a child who flies across the artic to visit with animals.

“It made for a really great initial book for this program because there’s a lot of action, there’s a lot of fun,” Hartman said. “Kids can learn about arctic animals while they are also doing some motions … so it made for a really good fit.”

Each post features an activity that students perform on their way to the next page, such as ruffling feathers like a raven or swimming like a salmon.

“So kids are not just walking page to page, but they are doing activities on the page that get them even more active,” said Hartman.

The short trail is open to the community. Hartman’s book will be featured for the next two weeks, after that, a new book will be added. Nielson said the project will focus on Alaskan authors, but added they are also looking at other activities to feature on trails to encourage people to get outside. She said next fall, the Tales on Trails project will move to other schools in the district that request it.

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