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New Physical Education Program Combines Reading and Physical Activity

Tales on TrailsA group of Ravenwood Elementary students explore the new Tales on Trails at Ravenwood Elementary Monday, April 19, 2021. (Robert DeBerry/ASD) 

New Physical Education Program, Tales on Trails, inspires elementary students to discover books by Alaskan authors while exploring the outdoors. The Anchorage School District Health and Physical Education Department announces a new program designed to get elementary students excited to read and move.  The new Tales on Trails program combines exercise with reading and is designed to spark curiosity and interest in books written by Alaskan Authors. The Tales on Trails program is part of the District’s new P.E. Paths initiative. 

The P.E. Paths initiative encourages students and families to move and learn together, by activating our outside spaces, creating trails that encourage movement activities combined with learning.


The Tales on Trails program launched April 19 at Ravenwood Elementary School with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a group of Ravenwood Elementary students getting to explore the outdoors with the help of the book Dream Flights on Arctic Nights by Brooke Hartman.

The concept for the program was designed by Ravenwood Elementary teacher Caela Nielson. “The goal is to get kids outside with their families and get them moving – and to get them excited about Alaskan authors and get them reading,” Nielson said.

Ribbon CuttingRavenwood Elementary teacher Caela Nielson cuts the ribbon on the new Tales on Trails section at Ravenwood Elementary. Robert DeBerry/ASD)

Tails on Trails will lead students on a quest down a trial marked with stakes where they will find a weatherproofed portion of a book by an Alaskan author. In addition to the book, each stake has a physical activity that coincides with the story, encouraging students to “jump like a snowshoe hare to the next page” or “trot like a fox to the next page.” The quest also encourages students to act out portions of the book, try an exercise, or to think more about what’s happening in the story while they stop and read along the trail.

Tails on Trails will run through the remainder of the school year at Ravenwood Elementary. Each quest will remain in place for two weeks then rotate to a new book. Beginning May 3, the new quest will feature Pedro’s Pan by Anchorage author and teacher Matthew Lasley. The quests are open to the community to enjoy after school hours.

ASD Health and Physical Education Teaching and Learning Coordinator Melanie Sutton said the District plans to continue the project and expand to multiple sites across the District at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

“This is an innovative way to approach learning and exercise, Sutton said. “We plan for the quests to rotate between elementary schools throughout the District.”

The 2021-2022 school year will feature books including Chia and the Fox Man: An Alaskan Dena’ina Fable  by Barbara J. Atwater and Ethan J. Atwater, How Raven Got His Crooked Nose  by Barbara J. Atwater and Ethan J. Atwater, and more books published by Alaska Northwest Books, an imprint of West Margin Press.

Tales on TrailsA Ravenwood Elementary student reads a page from the book Dream Flights on Arctic Nights by Brooke Hartman on the new Tales on Trails section at Ravenwood Elementary. (Robert DeBerry/ASD)