I recently tried the “Surfaces Walk” from the Walking Curriculum with my students. It was a great learning experience for all of us. Here are a few of my reflections.
My colleague and I first gathered our two classes in my room. I spoke to them about ‘surfaces’. I set the imaginative scene. I started with some fun questions:
What does the ‘surface’ of a cat feel like?
What does soft and fuzzy make you feel like?
Warm, cozy, peaceful…
Then I asked my students what the gravel field surface might feel like.
Rough, bumpy, sharp…
How do you feel when you think about how that surface might feel like?
I feel scratchy inside” “I feel cold”…
We made some predictions about what surfaces we might see in the ravine and in the surrounding neighbourhood where we were going to walk.
How will the surfaces feel under your feet, bare feet, or bare hands? What surfaces wouldn’t we be able to reach/touch? What might those feel like?
Like our last walking curriculum activity, the engagement after setting the imaginative context was awesome.
Right off the top, as we headed outside:
“Ms. Lenning! Look at the peeling paint on the school near the roof! I bet that feels wet and cold.”
Someone else yelled, “I bet it is slimy, I don’t like slime, YUCK!”
We went into the ravine and the excitement continued.
“Look way up to the nest, what do you think that would feel like, would it feel the same to your hand as it would to the beak of the bird that lives there?”
They really thought about that one…
It continues to astonish me how engaging emotions and feelings changes the whole activity. It was one of our best outdoor explorations yet.
My colleague really got into our walking activities, too. She stopped us:
“Look at those two fences. Look at the surfaces. How are they different/the same?”
I realize the importance of extending the activity post-walk. This is something I didn’t do on this walk but will for the next one. I could have had my students somehow draw the surfaces they noticed and try to show visually the different textures they felt. I could also have had them elaborate on their emotions. Why do we feel certain ways about things we touch? Next time I could also have them look for the “faces” in the surfaces they discover.
Although I didn’t have an extension or connect activity this time, the students didn’t forget our walking exploration. The day after doing that Walking Curriculum activity, a student came up to me and said, “I noticed last night that my couch is really soft. It makes me feel cozy.” Another commented, “I noticed my covers on my bed are squishy and soft.”
This, I think, was really cool. Small observations that were not made before! Awesome.