• Jacqueline Whelan

Learning Trails

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

Learning Trails are a great way to focus students’ noticing while learning outside and in nature. A learning trail is an activity where educators and students explore a trail or route on the school grounds through the lens of a predetermined learning goal. Learning trails can focus on the natural or built environment and can be led by either teachers or students. The type of learning trail chosen depends on the needs of students and curriculum expectations. There are three main types of trails: guided, self-guided, and inquiry learning trails.

The first Guided Learning Trail trail we take our students on is a Listening Walk. Noticing is a keyword in any guided learning trail. During this activity, we guide students sequentially from one area of the school grounds to another and draw their attention to the sounds we hear. At the end of the activity, we ask the students to share: ‘’What did you hear?’’ or ‘’What did you notice?’’.

Moving between stops, some students may follow behind, while others are able to run ahead to the next stop - sometimes excitement should not be contained! We simply work with students to develop co-created guidelines for moving along the learning trails, never venturing farther than the next stop with an adult.

As an extension, we repeat this activity, stopping at the same stops asking one of the following questions, each on a different day: “What do you see?”, “What do you smell?”, “What do you feel?”.

* A word of caution, asking “What do you taste?” could be a bit risky, especially with young students.

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