Walking Field Trip Map
Walking Field Trip Map

Walking Field Trips: Mapping Outdoor Instruction Opportunities

Public lands, parks, trails, walking paths, and other natural areas provide high-quality settings to support student learning. Finding and sharing locations that are within a walking distance of schools can encourage the integration of environmental education into lesson planning.

At the culmination of Hamline University’s Master of Arts in Education: Natural Science and Environmental Education program, I was able to design a project along with my capstone research paper. The final product was a walking field trip map and resource guide intended to facilitate the ability for teachers to take students to outdoor education opportunities near their school on a regular basis. Because the walking field trip design is scalable and can be easily replicated, I would like to share this as a resource for other educators.

Walking field trips are treks to natural and community spaces planned during class time for the purpose of enhancing students’ learning experience and helping to achieve academic goals. Hands-on opportunities to apply knowledge are available everyday, right in the neighborhood of the school! The project extends school instructional settings to public lands, open spaces, parks, trails, river access points, and beyond. Walking field trips can create opportunities for students to learn about the local landscape, develop a sense of place, and become more environmentally literate.    

The walking field trip map that I created charted local outdoor community resources within one mile of each school in a rural school district. I chose Google My Maps to display the information. You can view the map here.

Additionally, an instructional guide for how to replicate and utilize this strategy in other school districts was completed, detailing the benefits, selection of suitable routes, best practices, and logistical recommendations for before, during, and after the walking field trip. The use of walking field trips is a widely replicable technique that can be scaled and grown to fit other school districts and environmental settings. The guide (shared in discussion thread) discusses how to use this model by highlighting where to go, how to plan, and why taking students outside during class time is academically important.
The full paper is available here .  


Anna could I get your contact information to bounce some ideas off you as I'm working with a few schools in my area to help better utilize the school and local green spaces for doing some innovative science programming.