Submitted by: Selina Miller
Grade level: secondary
Core Competencies: critical-thinking,positive-personal-and-cultural-identity,communication
Subject Disciplines: social-studies,humanities,geography,english,outdoor-education

This lesson is inspired by Traci Warkentin’s 2011 article “Cultivating Urban Naturalists.” Students will be working with a partner and returning to the same outdoor spot regularly throughout the duration of the course.

Warkentin, T. (2011). Cultivating urban naturalists: Teaching experiential, place-based learning through nature journaling in Central Park. Journal of Geography110(6), 227–238.

Human Geography 12 Curricular Objective:

Students will develop their sense of place, while also working on their Personal Awareness and Responsibility, Communication, and Critical Thinking skills. 

Sense of PlaceAssess the significance of places by identifying the physical and/or human features that characterize them.

Supplies Required:

·       Pen/Pencil

·       Journal



  1. Students will select a partner and find a comfortable area outdoors. This is the area that they will be returning to weekly or bi-weekly (semester/linear) throughout the duration of the course. 
  2. At the start of class students will copy down the prompt for the day in their journal. Possible prompts:
    1. Close your eyes and draw/explain a map of your place based on what you hear. 
    2. Observe your surroundings, what do you see?
    3. What impact have humans had on this place?
    4. What aspects of this place are untouched by humans?
    5. What is this place teaching you?
    6. How has this place changed during the seasons?
    7. What does this place mean to you?
    8. In what ways can you be grateful for this place?
  3. Students then go to their outdoor place and sit in silence for 10 minutes, reflecting and considering the prompt. 
  4. After 10 minutes of silent observation and reflection, students spend the next 10 minutes responding to the prompt in their journal. This can be with words or be accompanied by drawings. 
  5. Students continue this activity for the duration of the course. 
  6. The summative event requires that students collaborate with their partner. They are to find patterns and themes within their journals. Together they will create a poster or representation of their place to share with the class. The final project will address the following: “How did the experience feel? What does this place mean to you? How did the experience change your thinking about nature, journaling, connection, and learning?”  



1. Collect journals every 4 entries and assess based on:

·      Significance of place is clearly identified in journal

·      Physical and/or human features of the place have been identified with maturity and depth.

·      Personal connection with place has been explored with openness and self-reflection


2. Summative project assessed based on:

·       Depth of response to the questions

·       Detailed description of place

·       Self-reflection of the experience and learning

Journaling for Sense of Place and Wellbeing

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