We learn a place and how to visualize spatial relationships, as children, on foot and with imagination. Place and the scale of place must be measured against our bodies and their capabilities.
(Snyder, 1990, pp. 98-99)
A Walking Curriculum
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If the message of this resource was a hashtag it could be #getoutside. The simple act of taking a walk—a walk with a curricular focus or purpose—can have multiple positive consequences—many of which are much more profound than we ever imagine. For example, walking can support students’ health and wellbeing by getting them moving. It can also emotionally and imaginatively engage learners by changing the “context” of learning (“context” meaning both location and the form of attention and involvement required of students).
On a deeper level walking-based practice connects curriculum topics with/in the real world. A new level of curriculum relevance can emerge for students as a result. Going even deeper, walking-based practice can support students in developing a sense of Place. Sense of Place, here, refers to an emotional connection to some aspect of the wildness in the world that surrounds them. Sense of Place involves a sense of community. Sense of Place is what can change how our students understand the world of which they are part—it can help them re-imagine their relationship with the natural and cultural communities they live in (Judson, 2010, 2015).
The Walking Curriculum provides us with easy-to-use, child-centred and developmentally appropriate activities that make outdoor learning – regardless of whether you’re surrounded by trees or concrete – memorable, meaningful and fun. (Karen Hiscott, Principal)
This Walking Curriculum challenges teachers to re-imagine how they teach and it encourages teachers to personally re-connect to Place and community. The #getoutside message involves acknowledging that our communities—natural and cultural—are teachers, too. This Walking Curriculum breaks down concepts of “school” that keep students inside and inactive. So, this book offers practical strategies and examples, but, more profoundly, it encourages teachers to have a new outlook on their teaching. It will empower teachers to #getoutside (physically outside and, figuratively, “outside” by rethinking how they engage their students). It invites teachers to grow beyond the book within an online community of K-12 imaginative ecological educators.
Doing the walks has been highly motivational for me as a teacher and a life-long learner. (Courtney Robertson, Vice Principal/Teacher)
The Walking Curriculum is readily useable for teachers K-12. The activities described can be easily adapted and used in all contexts—limited additional time and/or resources are required. It reflects principles and practices of Imaginative Ecological Education as it offers walking activities that engage student imagination and cultivate emotional connection with place.
The 60 walks provided in the resource reflect a variety of themes, perspectives, and motivations. For example, students may be asked to find things (such as shapes, spaces or lines, evidence of growth or change, “the best” hiding places), to change perspectives (imagine being a beetle, a detective, or a visitor from outer space), to encounter the world differently (emphasizing one sense over another or moving through space differently), or to seek evidence of human-nature relationships. In all activities, the aim is to deepen awareness of the particularities and meaning of place.
Walking activities are designed to
- engage the body, emotions, and imagination in ways that can increase familiarity with the local and natural contexts of school and learning;
- increase attention to detail, particularity and their connection with place;
- connect Place-based learning activities with cross-curricular goals;
- serve as examples for your own, place-inspired teaching ideas.
Want more information? Click HERE for 5 Sample Walks from the Walking Curriculum and recent posts on the Walking Curriculum (PreK through Higher Education) by practitioners.
FREE journal to support your Walking Curriculum work/outdoorlearning.
Feedback From Teachers
The Walking Curriculum has been one of the best ways for my Immersion Kindergarten students to retain vocabulary. (Andrea Koch, Teacher)
I took my class (Grades 3/4) and another class (Grades 1/2) for the “shapes walk” on Tuesday through the wooded ravine area and neighbourhood near our school. I gave them a handout, and after a brief discussion/instruction period, away we went. We have been on many walks, but this one was very different. The other teacher and I could not believe how engaged they were (and this is not an easy group). They noticed things they had never noticed before. They saw the diamonds in the metal that covered the wood bridge. They saw the rectangles in the stairs; one of my students ‘saw the leaves that represented stars’. They decided to make another chart on the back to show the shapes they saw that were not on the original chart. It was fantastic! I look forward to trying the other walks. (Dina Lenning, Teacher)
The Walking Curriculum sparks new imaginative ways to develop sense of place and allows for deep cross-curricular connections through many hands-on explorations and discoveries. It is an engaging resource that encourages students to authentically connect with their environment. (Jolene McFadyen-Nein, Teacher)
MORE REVIEWS ON AMAZON!
The Walking Curriculum was selected as a top global innovation by HundrED and the Lego Foundation! Learn more about the 2020 Creativity Spotlight global collection.
By Adelle Caunce
Judson, G. (2015). Engaging imagination in ecological education: Practical strategies for teaching. Vancouver, B.C.: UBC Press.
Judson, G. (2010). A New approach to ecological education: Engaging students’ imaginations in their world. New York: Peter Lang.
Snyder, G. (1990). The practice of the wild. San Francisco: North Point Press.
*I acknowledge that the Place-based, ecological practices outlined in the Walking Curriculum align with practices that have been at the heart of Indigenous worldviews since time immemorial. I am actively working with my Indigenous colleagues to expand my understanding of Indigenous ideologies and to authentically interweave the imaginative ecological learning activities in the Walking Curriculum with First Peoples’ Principles of Learning.