Since Roberts started at General McLane in 2011, she has incorporated nature walks within her kindergarten and first grade curriculum, providing elementary students with the opportunity to experience nature while practicing balance and proprioceptive skills from walking on different surfaces.
“I loved hiking and trails, and this was an opportunity to provide students with an active and engaging lesson on the elements of nature beyond the classroom walls,” Roberts says.
Well, things are about to get a little more scenic at McKean Elementary School.
Consistently throughout the years, Roberts says the students have love it. So much, that McKean Elementary will be creating the McKean Elementary Fitness and Nature Trail.
The new multipurpose trail will run along the back perimeter of McKean Elementary School and include areas for biking, climbing, balancing as well as interactive sensory experiences and so much more. All of the construction will be made out of natural materials like wood and rock. These areas will be able to be used for cross-curricular exploration.
“I am excited to really create something that will have a lasting impact on General McLane students and families for years to come,” Roberts says. “We are eager to create an engaging local experience for students to get outside and exercising with families and friends after school hours.”
There are six phases of this trail project totaling close to $40,000. Thanks to donations from McKean Elementary PTA and St. Francis Usher’s Club ($4,000), Phase 1 and 2 of the trail is expected to be complete this summer. This phase includes all the walking paths for the entire trail and the construction of the first obstacle station, an island/water themed station, which will combine balance with science and discovery.
The six phases of the project include: paths and walkways, science exploration, a bike area, pumpkin patch-obstacles, a climbing area and music/sound and sensory exploration. All areas will have designated spots for classroom utilization and for teachers to adapt their content through QR codes etc. They are also planning on emphasizing history and vegetation and wildlife specific to McKean to study. Dahlkemper’s Landscape Architects and Contractors will be constructing the trail.
Roberts found inspiration for the trail while visiting Presque Isle State Park’s Nature Play Space at Beach 11 in 2017.
“The Beach 11 project is very cool and all natural. I wanted to create something at McKean to be natural and blend with the tree line and keep in that theme of enjoying our natural habitat,” Roberts says.
McKean Elementary Parent Teacher Association fully supports this project and have helped by donating $15,000. They are currently seeking donations for the remainder of the project. In addition to monetary donations, they are also looking for material donations to help offset the costs. These donations include logs, rocks, mulch, a small bridge for the creek crossing and hardy, low maintenance plants.
Questions about the project, please contact Lisa Roberts at email@example.com or (814) 273-1033 ext. 4020.