Mapping & Sense of Place

Add mapping skills to Eco-Games in your schoolyard to develop spatial awareness and sense of place. Here are the instructions:

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Download all of the Eco-Game signs and cards for FREE here:  Eco-Games Download.

Place game signs throughout your school yard. To develop a greater sense of place, assign students the task of naming parts of the schoolyard as well as elements like trees, sandpits, particular places they find special. Ensure that all place names are friendly for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. This is an important talk to have with your students. Do research on previous names for where your school is located, particularly Indigenous Treaties. Create a meaningful Land Acknowledgement that recognizes and shows respect for the First Nations, Metis and Inuit.

In this photo below, see how you can stick the game sign to a tree. I just use removable duct tape, which sticks even in the rain! My students call our home base for outdoor learning, Old Man Tree. The name has stuck for years of classes!

Newt Game Sign       Old Man Tree

I also go onto Google Earth to get an accurate visual of my schoolyard. Tape white bristol board to the screen or wall and project the image of the schoolyard map onto it at just the right scale for your size of paper. Trace your school and schoolyard elements. Here is an example of a schoolyard map with game signs numbered on the map. Enrich Eco-Games by integrating orienteering and map skills! You could also have the students create their own maps for measurement: distance, area, perimeter, scale. This is a rich math and geography task.

Schoolyard Map

One of my favourite “sense of place” maps to inspire students of all ages:

one hundred acre woods

Map making, sense-of-place and place names are loaded with history and identity for people, especially Indigenous People in North America. With a history of colonialism that changed traditional Indigenous place names, it is vital to have these deep discussions with children. Many place names in North America are going back to their original Indigenous name. Ensure that your place names are respectful, especially for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. Here are some books to get these discussions started for deeper inquiry into land, maps and place names. There is a lot of equity and inclusivity work to do in this area of study, literature and representation!

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