10 Ways to Make a Walk around the Block a Learning Experience

The following activity is part of a series we’re creating to support students, teachers, and caregivers, during this unprecedented time. Read more about the project here. If you try this activity with your student(s), we’d love to see what you do. Share your journey via the #Inspired2Learn hashtag on your preferred social platform. 

Created by: Jenna Fournel
Discipline: writing, science, math, geography
Age level: any
Time: 30 min to all day

Materials: writing materials, found materials, glue, ruler, Sharpie pen

Feeling cooped up and need to stretch those legs? Even if your local park is off limits, a walk down the street can be good for the intellect and imagination. If your students and their parents/guardians are comfortable and able, encourage them to take a walk and engage in one (or more!) of the following activities:

  1. Scavenger Hunt: Write down a list of things to find on your walk, these do not have to be objects you pick up, they can just be things you spot with your eyes that require some creative thinking and strong observation. Some examples: an angry bird, somebody’s dream, an impossible plant, a home for gnomes, something you can fix, something nobody else has seen. You can also do a more traditional scavenger hunt looking for things of certain colors, sizes, or shapes. 
  2. Found Poetry: Write down as many words or phrases as you can find on a stretch of your walk. These can be street signs, bumper stickers, labels, etc. When you return home, cut out each word or phrase and then arrange them into a found poem. 
  3. Found Collage: Bring a small bag and fill it with tiny things you find along your walk. Items might include acorns, leaves, bottle caps, seed pods, etc. When you return home, find a clean piece of cardboard and some glue, and glue down your items in a way that pleases you. They may work well by themselves, or you may want to add lines or other objects to complete your picture. 
  4. Tell Stories: Walk with a friend or family member. As you walk, see if you can share a story with each other about things you remember that have taken place on this street. Do you have a story for every house you pass? Do you have memories from different places where you’ve stood on the sidewalk? When you get home, write some of these stories down. 
  5. Sprinkle Seeds: Find a packet of wildflower seeds and sprinkle them in little spots where you don’t think they’ll be a nuisance along your walk. Return to this walk in the coming weeks and observe the changes as your flowers grow! 
  6. Different Measures: Bring a ruler with you on your walk and figure out how many feet down the path or sidewalk counts as 20 feet. Now figure out different ways to measure this same distance. How many jumps does it take for you to cross 20 feet? How many twirls? How many side steps? 
  7. Rock Someone’s World: Find some rocks that have smooth surfaces. Use a Sharpie marker to write some words of encouragement on the rocks. Sample phrases include, “Hey! You Rock!” “You make the world more wonderful.” “Thank goodness you’re here.” “Wishing you the very best day.” After you’ve written on your rocks, go for a walk and put them in unexpected places for other people to find. You never know who’s day you just brightened!  
  8. Create a Nature Guide: Find as many living things as you can that aren’t people on your walk. Look close to the ground for bugs, up in the air for birds, in the trees for squirrels. Make notes of any animals you see including their colors, behaviors, and where they can be found. When you get home, create a guide book to wildlife in your neighborhood. Keep some blank pages! You’re sure to find more to add on future walks. 
  9. Create a Walking Soundtrack: This can go two very different ways! Start by taking a walk and noticing all the sounds you hear. Are birds chirping? Are trucks backing up? Are people talking? What languages do you hear spoken? Consider turning on an audio recorder of some sort and gathering a soundscape of your neighborhood. Another option is to go for a walk and think about what songs would work best as a soundtrack to what you’re experiencing. What song fits the parent walking their baby in a stroller, or the person wheeling a cart of groceries? What song fits the new grass poking through the soil?  What music fits the hawk soaring overhead? What music fits the traffic light changing from red to green? When you get home, see if you can put together that soundtrack. Now when you hear those songs you can take that walk again in your mind! 
  10. Collaborative Story Building: Walk with one or two other people and have someone begin a story with a sentence inspired by something you see on the walk. For example, “Sarai knew the cat she saw in the window was the one she’d lost 3 years ago.” Then someone else in your group adds the next line with something they see, such as, “Unfortunately the person who lived in that house was walking in the door carrying a large box of lettuce, and Sarai was so allergic to lettuce she wasn’t supposed to be within 15 feet of it.” A different person adds each line, building on what came before and getting inspiration from the things you see along the walk. See how long you can make the story go! 

Inspired Teaching Connection

Each of these activities taps into different kinds of learning but they all bring purpose, persistence, and action to what might otherwise be a simply meandering walk. (A meandering walk is also a good idea! But if you want to bump up the instructional value, these activities can help!). These activities also position the student as expert in crafting their own learning experience from a space with which they have familiarity. 

See our instructional model here

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