Students take a field trip into the schoolyard or a local park to find their special wild space and begin to get to know it. Students use observation and structured activities to develop a relationship with the space and record their observations, thoughts, and feelings.
See "Facilitating Personal Experiences in the Outdoors" for background on how to facilitate an outdoor experience.
Space is one of the four basic habitat needs that all animals must meet, along with food, water, and shelter. Humans are no exception.
From a habitat perspective, space is the territory an animal needs to survive and thrive. Each type of animal requires very specific amounts and types of space. For instance, a great blue heron must have a large wetland space where it can hunt for the right food (small fish and frogs to eat), find water (salt or fresh water) that is shallow enough for wading and hunting, and find shelter that includes tall trees along a shoreline for safe roosting. While they may forage up to 29 km from their colony, most forage within two to five kilometres. The space during breeding season must also include flooded wetlands with large, dead trees that support the colony's large nests. Without these special spaces, reproduction could not succeed. Most of Canada's great blue herons, of course, also need space in a warmer climate during our winter months, along with a safe travel route to get there. They need lots of space!
Human populations need spaces to grow and distribute food, spaces to access clean water, and spaces to build homes to provide shelter. To remain truly healthy, we all need special spaces that provide something beyond the basics, something to enrich our lives. For many of us, these are the very wild spaces that provide the basics for our wildlife friends.
Part 1: Find a Special Space
- Introduce the concept of habitat and discuss how the special wild spaces that make up the students' habitat enrich their lives. Give the students a few minutes to brainstorm about enjoyable times they have spent in nature, where they occurred, and what made those experiences special.
- Brief students on safety and expectations, particularly relating to the “leave no trace” approach. Provide students with a clipboard or notebook, a pencil, and Activity 1 Worksheet. Then go into the schoolyard or a nearby local park. Use the walk to prepare students for a reflective experience.
- Use the procedure described in "Facilitating Personal Experiences in the Outdoors" to conduct a simple observation or reflection activity that enables students to find and explore a special spot.
- Debrief the activity. Ask: What attracted you to this place? How did you feel there? Why is it a valuable part of your habitat?
Part 2: Explore Your Special Wild Space
- Ask students to spend 15–30 minutes filling out the worksheet at their special place.
- Discuss the experience. Ask:
- How many different living things use this space?
- Do they all use the same parts of the space?
- What do they find here that helps them survive?
- How do they make your space more special?
Part 3: Share Your Special Space (Optional)
- Have students create a sketch or map of their space, marking on features that make the spot special to them. They can also do sketches, paintings or sculptures, or write poems or stories about their space.
- Display the creations in classrooms or hallways.
Have students make spring/fall sketch of their spot.
Students should be able to describe the basic components of habitat and how wild spaces are valuable components of wildlife and human habitat. Students should demonstrate that they adhered to the "leave no trace" approach in their treatment of their special space.
Students will produce many items for a festival (see "A Special Wild Places Festival") such as: poetry and songs, descriptive writing, artwork, models, photographs and tours of students' special spaces.
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