Thinking outside 

Types of Learning Trails


Connections to Grade One Social Studies - Community

Guided Learning Trail - Look & Notice
An educator guides students sequentially from one spot to the next along the learning trail. Students look and notice examples of natural and built features on the schoolyard, making an inventory with pen and paper or with photos.
Learning Goal: Sort natural and built features on the schoolyard

Self-Guided Learning Trail - Explore & Discover
Students are given a “treasure map” of the schoolyard on which are indicated a variety of natural and built features. They are invited to explore the space using the map, perhaps checking off items they find and adding new discoveries.
Learning Goal: Develop map making skills.

Inquiry Learning Trail - Question & Investigate
Students explore the schoolyard independently with a variety of tools (e.g., collection containers, clipboard, field journals and magnifying glasses). During a knowledge building circle, students are invited to share their thinking (e.g., this reminds me of) and questioning (e.g., I wonder...) about the schoolyard ecosystem.
Learning Goal: Understand the Interconnectedness of Living Things on the school yard



Math Learning Trails
Number Sense and Numeration: These trails are designed to encourage students to explore decomposing, composing, representing and ordering numbers.

  • Number Scavenger Hunt Trail: finding numbered places of interest around the school grounds
  • Rekenrek Trail: counting items found using a personal rekenrek (e.g., number of trees on the yard)
  • Collecting Trail: collecting leaves in the fall and counting them using number frames


Measurement: These trails are designed to introduce students to the concepts that measurements are used to determine the height, length, and width of objects, as well as the perimeter, area and the volume.

  • Stick Trail: finding sticks on the school grounds and comparing their lengths
  • Distance Trail: measuring the distance between points of interest on the school yard


Geometry and Spatial Sense: These trails are designed to support students’ as they begin identifying and describing shapes, sizes, positions, direction, and movement.

  • Rock Trail: finding rocks on the school ground and comparing them to 2D and 3D shapes
  • Cloud Trail: observing clouds and describing what organic shapes they are


Patterning and Algebra: These trails are designed to encourage student to analyze and make predictions for patterns and develop an understanding of the concept of equity.

  • Patterning Trail: creating, generating and representing various patterns (repeating, growing, shrinking, relational, linear, and algebraic)
  • More Than, Equal, Less Than Trail: comparing quantities of items found on the school grounds


Data Management and Probability: These trails are designed to introduce students to different ways to gather, organize, display, and interpret data using the elements of designs of the visual arts curriculum.

  • Fall Leaves Trail
  • Line Trail: finding and sorting kinds of lines found on the schoolyard (e.g., straight, curved, etc.)
  • Texture Trail: finding and sorting items by texture (e.g., rough, smooth, bumpy, etc.)
  • Shades of Green Trail: using paint chips, student gather and sort various nuances of green