An Outdoor Lesson Idea: Mapping & Navigation

An Outdoor Lesson Idea: Mapping & Navigation

Summer is coming. What better way to get ready for the impending one-week-long summer we usually get than by getting your students outdoors. Outdoor learning is great for students. It gets them out in the sun, and engages them more because they aren’t used to doing it day in and day out. No-one wants to be cooped up in a classroom (or office!) all day in nice weather, so get them outside and let them have fun! This amazing lesson idea from Outdoor Classroom Day gets students to connect with the outdoors and their imagination. This is Micro Journey.

Micro Journey asks student to map and plan out their own miniature route. The twist is, the route is from the point of view of an ant. It’s an amazing and fun way to engage children with geography, as it teaches them about routes and mapping. On top of this, it promotes literacy by using language to describe panoramic views, paths, climbs and tunnels. It also gets students to utilise their creativity by creating imaginative names for places along their route. For older students, the lesson can be adapted by getting them to record their own audio tour of their route. This is a great speaking and listening extension.

This lesson was developed by Learning Through Landscapes and can be used for a range of levels. It includes references to the curriculum in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It can be downloaded here.

What You’ll Need

The real beauty of this lesson is that it only requires items you’ll have available at school. You will need:

  • A few meters of string or wool
  • Masking tape and a pen (used to create flags for landmarks)
  • A varied natural landscape (under a hedge, long grass, for example)
  • A camera or tablet
  • Mirrors or magnifying glass

Start the lesson by taking a length of string (or wool), and laying it out along a varied landscape. Get down low and look at the path of the string from an ant’s point of view. Mark interesting points (pebbles, moss etc) with twigs and masking tape flags. Mirrors or magnifying glasses can give a different perspective and cameras or tablets used to take macro-pictures.

This lesson can function as a really engaging hook for geography. Students consider the route and mapping, in miniature thus making it easier for them to grasp. Challenge students to think about the detail they see – panoramic views, paths, climbs and tunnels. There are many ways you could extend the lesson – split the class into groups and challenge them to come up with the most imaginative route. Perhaps they can create a presentation using their audio tour and macs photos?

Have you got any outdoor lessons planned now that the weather seems to be getting nicer? Have you used an activity like this before? Perhaps your school is lucky enough to have some woods or ponds on the grounds? We’d love to hear all of your thoughts in the comments!

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