Mapping a Micro Nature Trail


Your Name: Abby Snyder

Class Grade Level(s): 3-4-5

Class Subject: Grade 3 Geography

Number of Students in the class: 16

Lesson/Project Name: Mapping a Micro Nature Trail


A.  Pre-Reflection

1. What are your professional teaching goals Please list at least 3.

1) To successfully facilitate an outdoor learning experience for my students.

2) To create a relevant lesson plan that extends learning from the classroom.

3) To “think outside the box” when teaching mapping skills.


2.  What are your goals for students going into this?

a.  Process/skill goals

This lesson plan is an adaptation of the lesson entitled, “Nanohike” from  Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning by Herbert Broda. This activity will require students to be close observers of the natural landscape they will be mapping.  Unlike other maps they created in the unit inside the classroom, this map is using a “real world” scale (1”=1”). I want them to learn/recognize that the map mapping skills they learned indoors can be easily applied in an outdoor setting.

 b.  Subject/content goals

This activity is a culmination of an extensive mapping unit in a third grade geography class. I hope that they will be able to apply their learned mapping skills by creating an accurate and correctly labeled map of the micro-trail that they create.



This plan is an adaptation of the activity entitled, “Nanohike” in Herbert Broda’s book entitled, Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning.

1.  Materials

Pencils, ruler, 48” of yarn, 1 colored pencil (same color as yarn), magnifying glass, 1 sharpie marker, and one 24”x18” sheet of paper pre-mounted on a piece of large cardboard for each pair of students.


2.  The Class/Project

a.  Prep before going outside: (15 minutes/1 day)

Description of prep:  Please include, in detail, all aspects of preparation:  tools, discussion, academic work, review of any outdoor behavior rules, clothing, etc.

A solid 15 minutes is needed to introduce activity, hand out and discuss expectations and materials for the assignment, answer questions and review boundaries and outdoor behavior rules.

b. Outside: (45 minutes/1 day)

Using the guidelines of the printed assignment, students work in partnerships to create, and then accurately map a micro-nature trail in the woods behind school building. (See attached assignment descriptor.)

c.  Classroom follow-up: (20-30 minutes/1 day)

A number of students requested extra time to add color, labeling and detail to their maps.  30 minutes could easily be allotted for indoor map enhancement as well as for sharing maps with each other.


C.  Reflection:

Overall, this activity turned out to be extremely worthwhile for my students.  The students were interested in the assignment and were completely engaged while working outside.  The exercise was relevant to the work we had been doing in the classroom, and it became an enriching extension to our mapping unit. In some ways, it also served as an assessment since this was our culminating activity, and students were expected to utilize and present all the skills that they had learned during the unit.  I think the activity also appealed to their imaginations as they envisioned a tiny human being walking their trail.

If I were to do this activity again with my students, I would allot more time.  I would also plan to do an outdoor demonstration of the activity to provide visual clarification for students who were initially a bit unclear of how to lay out their micro trail.  I would also probably create a tighter boundary within our outdoor workspace so that I could monitor student work more efficiently (students were a bit spread out).


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