One of our favourite ways to get students outside and observing the natural world is by taking them on a listening walk. It is a very simple way to introduce the idea of Learning Trails.
We start the Thinking Outside session by reading The Listening Walk, by Paul Showers. Then we invite students to join us on a listening walk. We encourage them to activate their sense of hearing and notice what is happening on the school yard, reminding them “On a listening walk, I do not talk.”. After, we form a knowledge building circle where students can share what they heard on their listening walk.
Students will often share a mix of human-made and natural sounds. One time, we heard a banging sound coming from the neighbour's roof. One of our students was convinced it was not a hammer but a BEAR - in suburban Ottawa no less! That’s OK too. Why let the facts interfere with a good story?