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Preschool adventure combines reading, outdoor activity
new slt storyWalk-MAIN
A Barton County 4-Her guides children through a StoryWalk adventure in this undated photo outside the GBRC Activity Center. Pages of a childrens book are posted on storyboards in an activity that promotes reading and walking. Children seen in the background are reading the next pages. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Free preschool activities

The following free events designed for children 2 years of age or older will be offered at the GBRC Activity Center, 2715 18th St. Children should be accompanied by a parent or caretaker.
• Imagination Playground is open from 9:30-11 a.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 20 and 27, Oct. 4 and 18, Nov. 1 and 15, Dec. 6 and 20 and Jan. 3 and 17. It will also be open from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Sept. 20 and 27 and Oct. 4 and 18.
• StoryWalk adventures will be offered from 10-11:30 a.m. on Sept. 20, Oct. 4 and Nov. 15.

Reading a children’s book does not usually involve much physical activity, unless the book is part of a StoryWalk.
This Wednesday, preschoolers can walk through the pages of “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” from 10-11:30 a.m. at the GBRC Activity Center, 2715 18th St. The pages will be displayed on storyboards set up along an outdoor path around the My BackYard Playground, or inside the Activity Center if the weather is bad. As they stroll through the short story, readers are directed to the next page until they reach the end, where they can sample a healthy blueberry muffin provided by Donna Krug and her helpers.
“The goal of StoryWalk is to read and exercise together with your child,” said Krug, family and consumer science agent with K-State Extension’s Cottonwood District. There is no charge to attend the activity.
Three StoryWalk adventures are planned this fall through the Great Bend Recreation Commission. “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” will be followed by “If I Built a Car” on Oct. 4 and “Giraffes Can’t Dance” on Nov. 15.

The dates coincide with GBRC’s Imagination Playground, the name for the big blue blocks set up inside the Activity Center. That is another free drop-in activity recommended for children age 2 years and up, who must be accompanied by an adult.
After Krug saw a StoryWalk for the first time, she shared the idea with her program development committee. This group of volunteers from Great Bend, Ellinwood and Hoisington includes several retired teachers who were enthusiastic about combining a literacy event with physical, outdoor activity.
“When we did it the first time (in 2016), they were so excited,” Krug said. “They latched right onto it.”
She found grant money to purchase reusable signs and the first books, which were turned into laminated storyboards that can be attached to the signs with Velcro fasteners.

Since the first StoryWalk featuring the book “Handa’s Surprise,” several more books have been purchased. Now seven area counties have signs and share the laminated books, which can be taken to schools and community events.
A typical book is 18-24 pages long and it takes 20-30 minutes to walk through the stations and read it. At the end of the story there are usually refreshments or a talk related to the book. Children have enjoyed fruit, popcorn and homemade ice cream, but not every book involves food, Krug said. Some will deal with concepts such as self-esteem or money management.