The Great Outdoors Activity Book

Organization Name:
Saco Bay Trails
City & State:
Describe your creative piece – what is it and what has it been used for, and why is it innovative?
Saco Bay Trails created an activities book for children hiking the trails maintained by our volunteers. This 12-page book for children ages 5 to 9 provides a fun-filled, interactive tool to use on the trails. Children learn to identify animals, plants, and other natural sights described in the book as they hike the trail and play the games. Teachers use the book on field trips to the state park or local trails. Parents use it when hiking with their children. The state of Maine is promoting the book's use by Maine families. Schools use it in the classroom. Saco Bay Trails, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, and the Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition collaborated on this project. Park Ranger Janet Mangion contributed her expertise to the book. Because Saco Bay Trails has posted a free pdf of the book on its website, teachers and parents everywhere can copy and use it. This is the only trail guide we know of for young children in this area.
What issue or problem were you working to address with this piece?
Our group's goal is to acquire permanent public access to local hiking trails. Part of our mission is to encourage children to be more active, to educate them about the physical world around them, and to teach them to respect and enjoy nature. The book addresses: • The benefits of outdoor activity to improve children's health. The trails in this area offer a beautiful, healthful environment in which to exercise-but persuading children to tear themselves away from the screen to go hiking can be a challenge. • Children's role in caring for the natural world. Many of the trails our group maintains include fragile environments and scarce habitat for a variety of plants and animals. Unless the future generation learns the value of these areas and works to preserve them, these wildlands and the plants and animals they sustain will disappear. • A lack of information about the Maine outdoors for children. Teachers and others often request more information about the trails for youngsters.
How has your submission successfully impacted your organization’s ability to solve this issue/problem?
By making the trail experience fun, this book: • encourages children and their parents to spend more time outdoors, • promotes exercise by hiking on the trails (thus improving health as well as quality of life), • nurtures children's enjoyment of nature, and • teaches children about nature's treasures, including intriguing plants and animals living all around them, so that they will learn to respect and care for the environment. This book provides valuable information about the plants, animals, habitat, and other aspects of life along the trails. The book is available throughout the state and beyond, through collaboration with the State Bureau of Parks and Lands and via the Saco Bay Trails website. Even before the book was printed, teachers were requesting it and downloading it from the website. We have heard from a number of teachers who can't wait to bring their students to the state park or other trails and use the book as a teaching tool.
Creative Submission - Files