VU Education Department immerses local children in storybook experience

VU Education Department immerses local children in storybook experience

Two female children reading a page of the book

April 24, 2023

VINCENNES, Ind. - Enthusiastic and jubilant elementary school children sauntered through the Vincennes University Education Department Story Walk at Kimmell Park, reading a delightful tale in both English and Spanish about a one-of-a-kind turtle with a gorgeous garden growing on its back. Page by page, they strolled along the trail overlooking the Wabash River with their families and friends, interacting with VU Education majors and reading the illustrated children’s book “Mossy” by Jan Brett.

The free community event on Thursday, April 20, offered a unique learning and social event to encourage reading and being active as a family.

After reading the story, the youngsters enjoyed fun interactive activities and craft stations designed by VU students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Education, such as petting a live turtle, creating mini terrariums to take home, building habitats for turtles, painting flower pots, and playing fun games. Free books were distributed to promote reading at home.

According to VU Education Major Hannah Fleetwood '24 of Jasper, Indiana, “This is helping us connect with the community. We get to meet new people and talk to the kids and parents.”

VU Education Major Moriah Bullock’s pet turtle was a popular draw. Bringing her turtle and the classroom to the community was a joy for Bullock '24..

“It’s a great way for kids to be able to read and for them to hang out with their friends and parents,” said Bullock, who is from Montgomery, Indiana.

Lisa Barksdale enjoyed the walk with her two sons, 5-year-old, Zaivon, and Legend, a second-grader at Tecumseh-Harrison Elementary School in Vincennes. Both described the event as “very, very good,” and Legend shared that his favorite part was touching the real turtle. They were also thrilled about seeing the other “Mossy.” That "Mossy" was a VU Theatre Arts student with a face painted green and wearing a turtle shell adorned with colorful flowers. 

“This is a great experience,” Barksdale said. “We are so glad that we came. The story was really nice. They’re having a lot of fun. Everybody was really friendly, and we get to take home some wildflowers.”

The Story Walk was a vision of VU Education Associate Professor Lisa Miller for her students to plan a literacy event for children. A grant from the Knox County Community Foundation supported the Story Walk.

 “In my teaching experience in public schools, I often planned events which involved parents and found it to be so important for students,” Miller said.

Miller selected “Mossy” due to the book's magnificent illustrations and the meaningful message concerning the welfare of wildlife. 

In addition to Education students, the Story Walk also featured VU Conservation Law Enforcement students who showed off animal pelts and antlers and sweet treats baked by VU Culinary Arts students.

For Education majors and future educators like Luke Vanderwall '24, it was the perfect opportunity to hone their teaching skills and increase their time with children to go with their student teaching hours. 

“This was a new experience,” said Vanderwall of Cicero, Indiana. “We had to create stations. We are doing this outside, but these types of activities are something you can do inside a classroom. It’s good to get more time outside of a classroom with children. It’s also fun getting to see all the kids from different schools come together and having a chance to interact with them.”

Shelly and Jerry Stuthers traveled from Terre Haute, Indiana, with their 7-year-old granddaughter, Jezebel, who described the Story Walk as “the best.”

“It is so neat,” Stuthers said. “We have never done anything like this.”

To learn more about VU’s Education degrees, explore HERE.

Click HERE to see a photo gallery of the “Mossy” Story walk.

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