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When We Went for a Walk

A toddler and caregiver explore nature and enjoy their senses as they take a walk around a city block.

Photo of Karen Lefkovitz

Written by

When we went for a walk today, we heard crickets.

(Child speech bubble) What is it saying?

(Adult speech bubble) “Come play with me! Come play with me!”

(Child speech bubble) What is the other one saying?

(Adult speech bubble) “I’m coming. I’m coming.”

[Imagery: Toddler and adult on stoop in front of house, listening to crickets in patch of ivy]

- pg break -

When we went for a walk today, we found acorns.

(Adult speech bubble) Squirrels like to eat acorns.

(Child speech bubble) I will take an acorn for the squirrel.

(Adult speech bubble) We can make tiny teacups.

(Child speech bubble) I want a teacup.

[Imagery: Toddler and adult on sidewalk squatting down to pick up acorn caps]

- pg break -

When we went for a walk today, we had to cross the street.

(Adult speech bubble) Did you check for traffic?

(Child speech bubble) Yes!

(Adult speech bubble) Then we can cross.

(Child speech bubble) Cars drive on the street. People walk on the sidewalk.

[Imagery: Adult gently guiding Toddler at curb in front of crosswalk]

- pg break -

When we went for a walk today, we felt the wind.

(Adult speech bubble) Look at the maple seeds.

(Child speech bubble) Let’s throw them in the air!

(Adult speech bubble) They twirl!

(Child speech bubble) Like helicopters!

[Imagery: Toddler and adult tossing maple seeds in the air]

- pg break -

When we went for a walk today, we smelled marigolds.

(Adult speech bubble) They smell strong.

(Child speech bubble) They smell like cheese.

(Adult speech bubble) They smell spicy!

(Child speech bubble) They smell like feet!

[Imagery: Toddler and adult sniff marigolds hanging over a retaining wall]

- pg break -

When we went for a walk today, we made up a song.

(Adult speech bubble) Ho ho! We’re walking along!

(Child speech bubble) We’re walking up high!

(Child speech bubble) Ho ho! We’re walking along!

(Adult speech bubble) We’re walking down low!

[Imagery: Toddler and adult on a sidewalk, dancing as they finish their walk around the block.]

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

This book can be read on a number of levels: a child can hold it and find hidden creatures and look at the human figures. An adult can read it and point to the speech bubbles, helping the child understand the relationship between spoken and written language. The child can join in the repetitive phrases on each page. This book serves as a guide in how to play with young children in nature: they enjoy very short walks, they are most comfortable exploring a small area.

Share your suggested book title

When We Went for a Walk

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

When we went for a walk today, we heard crickets. What is it saying? “Come play with me! Come play with me!” What is the other one saying? “I’m coming. I’m coming.” When we went for a walk today, we found acorns. Squirrels like to eat acorns. I will take an acorn for the squirrel. We can make tiny teacups. I want a teacup. When we went for a walk today, we had to cross the street. Did you check for traffic? Yes! Then we can cross. Cars drive on the street. People walk on the sidewalk. When we went for a walk today, we felt the wind. Look at the maple seeds. Let’s throw them in the air! They twirl! Like helicopters! When we went for a walk today, we smelled marigolds. They smell strong. They smell like cheese. They smell spicy! They smell like feet! When we went for a walk today, we made up a song. Ho ho! We’re walking along! We’re walking up high! Ho ho! We’re walking along! We’re walking down low!

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

The majority of the words used, both nouns and verbs, come from Tier 1 Basic Terms, including superclusters: 6: Time, 9: Verbal Interactions, 10: Animals, 13: Trees and Plants, 14: Acquisition and Ownership , 16: Vehicles and Transportation, 21: Sounds and Noises , 22: Food and Eating , 28: Movement and Action, 40: Actions Involving the Face, 48: Weather and Nature. The use of speech bubbles encourages the practice of "serve and return" where adults engage in simple back and forth responsive language with toddlers. Each page starts with a repetitive phrase and then adds a sensory or movement related action.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I live in the Philadelphia neighborhood depicted in these images. I raised my child here and taught preschool (including many such walks) in this neighborhood.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

This manuscript arose out of my experiences teaching in an urban preschool. I was concerned about the lack of books for young children featuring nature experiences in an urban setting as well as a deficit of books showing non-white children loving nature. Our students were very observant and found an abundance of nature and interesting ecosystems in the small back yard and blocks around the school. In order to be future stewards of the earth, children need to have meaningful experiences in nature every day. For urban children, it is critical that they explore and "own" the nature in their home environment.

Location: Country

United States

Location: State or Department

Pennsylvania

Location: City

Philadelphia

Tell us more about you / your team

I am an early literacy consultant. I work with a range of local institutions to develop engaging early reading curricular pieces as well as multi year literacy programs in underserved communities. Statement to adults reading this book (possibly back cover): Playing in nature is great for children’s health and development. Our city blocks are full of nature, and our young children appreciate this. Everything they care about is here: insects, worms, birds and small animals. All sorts of plants: grasses, mushrooms, bushes and trees. Even mulch has a lot going on underneath. Our tiny yards, strips of open areas near playgrounds and abandoned lots hold ecosystems simple enough for children to appreciate and complex enough to captivate scientists. You can be the caring adult who shares the child’s curiosity and excitement and makes sure they have a chance to play outside everyday.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Photographs and hidden creatures are very compelling to young children, and provide a non verbal reading track. I would like to work with an illustrator on figures that feel recognizable, but are not overly specific. Children have close relationships with a variety of caring adults, and I would like children to be able to see themselves and their favored caregiver in this story. The speech bubble format is also important because it closes the gap between spoken and written language.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists
  • Early Childhood Education Specialist

14 comments

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Photo of Deepali Kulkarni
Team

Hi Karen,

I enjoyed reading your book and could easily imagine a parent reading this with their child and then going for a walk to review certain words and phrases.

Good luck!

Deepali

Photo of Karen Lefkovitz
Team

I really appreciate you taking the time to give my manuscript a close reading! That prompted me to think more about Tier 1, and I did find a great supercluster that I hadn't considered: 16: Vehicles and Transportation, it has both helicopter and car... which is cool, this book could also be used as part of a transportation theme, and I hadn't looked at it that way. If you have a minute to give me more feedback on which metaphors seem complicated, I would like to test them out with a toddler audience. Thanks so much!

Photo of Deepali Kulkarni
Team

My mistake with the tier 1 vocabulary!

The helicopter and teacup lines were ones that I thought babies might not grasp as easily. But testing it out on babies and toddlers might help you decide.

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