Below is a sample lesson from a 4-week study of mapping for grade 1-2. During the 4 weeks, we make compasses and learn how to use them, make patterns, learn to read maps, make maps and practice lost proofing skills.

Greeting: To start the day, the school gathers as a whole in greeting and song. Activities are discussed and outlined for the day so the children know what to lies ahead.

Morning Hike: during our 30 minute morning hike, we stop several times to locate ourselves within the cardinal directions as well as point out several prominent features, looking at them not only from the direction we are heading but also how the look from other directions.

Active Game: Fire in the Forest (tag-like game)

Circle: Seasonal songs, Introduce the Riddle of the day, and active math games such as:

Finger Speed-Sums: Students gather with one hand behind their back. On the count of three, they each put forward some number of fingers. Each student finds the sum of all the fingers and shout out the total when prompted.

Stand Up/Sit Down: The instructor says out loud a math question, like 7+3. If the answer is larger than 5, they stand or sit if it is 5 or below

Story (interactive): Students do the mental math or math with manipulatives during the story and answer questions. Story begins with recall questions about previous stories.


Do you remember Lucy and Leon? They were the children who visited their grandmother and followed a deer until they got lost, then they climbed a hill and the weather changed and they were cold so they stuffed their jackets with leaves and grasses to keep warm until the weather lifted and they could see where they were? Well, after that adventure, Lucy and Leon were determined to develop some lost proofing skills so they would never get lost again.  Lucy remembered reading a story about a gypsy family that used patterans to find one another. The gypsy family lived a long time before there were telephones and they were nomadic (meaning they didn’t have a permanent home and just wandered from town to town doing odd jobs and camped in the wild). In order to find one another, they left signs on the roads telling others which direction they were heading. Each family had their own patteran: the Smith family left one sign and the Jones family left a different one, etc…Lucy and Leon liked the idea of having their own secret patteran and thought it would be fun to do as well as a good way to find one another if ever needed.

So one day, Lucy and Leon sat at their favorite spot next to the pond and began to make a patteran. They both searched about and gathered twigs, branches, rocks, berries, shells, nuts and leaves. And then they set to work. Lucy laid a curvy oak branch down and then placed three rocks next to it. Leon moved the branch and then put one rock on one side and one on the other. Back and forth they went moving rocks and sticks and leaves until eventually they were arguing. Lucy wanted it this way and Leon wanted it that way. Finally, Lucy grabbed a pile of things and stomped away in a huff saying she was going to make her own! Leon said Fine, I’m making my own too. They both set to work again, separately. This time they made patteran after patteran trying to get it just right. Lucy’s were quite artistic with elaborate patterns and colors. Each rock had to be turned just right. Leon made arrows and spirals and stars. It wasn’t long before Lucy looked over at Leon and said, “Hey that’s really nice”. And Leon said, “Yours are really fancy!”

Lucy said, “Yeah, probably too fancy to make on the trail.” And Leon said “wow, between both of us, we have like ten patterans. Let’s look at them all and chose one that we like best.” Lucy said “Yeah, but let’s also make sure it is something we can make anywhere using the materials that are available everywhere.” Lucy and Leon studied each patteran until they had narrowed it down to two. Then they took one stick and moved it from one to the other and took away three rocks and then added a feather. And they both liked it until Leon said, “Hey, I don’t think we can use the feather. In some places, feathers are hard to find.” Lucy said “yeah” and took it away and then picked up another stick and drew a feather in the dirt. They both stood back and said “Perfect!” Leon said, “Ok, now let’s see if it works.” Lucy waited at the pond, while Leon headed out on the trail. Each time he got to a trail crossing, he made the same patteran on the trail he took. He did this about 5 times and then sat and waited. Lucy waited for a few minutes and then followed the trail that Leon took. Each time she came to a trail crossing, she found Leon’s patteran and in no time, easily found Leon. Next it was Leon’s turn. He easily found Lucy too. And Lastly, it was grandma’s turn. Lucy and Leon knew that grandma was a good tracker so Lucy and Leon tried to make their path really tricky with lots of turns, going up hill and down hill and even over a creek. Well, Grandma found them at their favorite pond spot (even though they went a very round about way) and when grandma arrived she was carrying a picnic basket. Lucy and Leon were very happy to see her and even more happy to see the basket for they knew grandma had brought them some snacks. Grandma opened the basket and took out a chunk of cheese, some crackers, a thermos of herbal tea and ONE blueberry. Grandma reached back into the basket searching the corners until she poked her finger in one corner, lifted the basket and her finger was sticking out of it! Grandma said “Oh, no. There is a hole in the basket and the blueberries must have fallen out. I started with 12 big juicy berries and now we only have one!” Lucy said that’s ok grandma, you can have it. Grandma said, “I can divide it equally between all of us.” Leon, who liked berries very much, said “Grandma, we can just follow the patterans back to re-trace your steps and find the other berries.” Grandma said, “Ok, lets see how many are we looking for…hmmm, I had 12 and now I have only 1, how many did I lose?” Lucy and Leon, grabbed some pebbles and quickly counted out 12 and then separated 1 from the pile. Counted the other and said, “One, two, three….eleven! You lost eleven blueberries grandma.” Grandma said, “Ok, lets go see if we can find those berries.” They walked and walked along the trail and picked up one berry and then another and then another. 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 2 +1 +1. Pretty soon they were at the start of the trail and they had a whole handful. Grandma said, “How many do we have?” They counted them all up, one by one and said “8!” Grandma said, “Hmmmm, how many are still missing?” Lucy and Leon picked up a bunch of pebbles and counted out 12. They said, “grandma started out with 12. One is at the pond, and we have ummm, 8 here. So let’s see, that means we have a total of 9 berries. And um, we started with 12, so we are missing 3 berries!” Yep, said grandma. Leon said “I think the rabbits got those three because I didn’t see them anywhere!” Grandma and Lucy laughed and said, “Yeah let’s go have our picnic.” All three ran back to the pond and when they got there, Grandma divided their nine berries up equally so each person got  3 berries. They ate their cheese, crackers, berries and tea and had a lovely afternoon!

Learning Opportunities/Activities: Each student collects natural materials from nearby and makes a patteran. All the children share their designs and then collaborate to create one class patteran. They draw that patteran in their journals with labels and date. Next is a hike in which the children split into two groups. One group ventures ahead and places the class patteran along the trail for the others to find them. The groups take turns leaving a patteran and tracking the patteran. Several stops during the hike to locate selves (cardinal directions, prominent features) and point to main camp area.

Unstructured time: If students are working/playing independently, instructors work on handwork crafts and teach skills to those that are interested.

Journaling Quiet Sit: Students sit by themselves for about 30 minutes. During that time, they spend about 10 minutes understanding their location by using their 5 senses. After the initial 10 minutes, they journal. They can write about or sketch their surroundings.

Gratitude Circle: Following the journaling exercise, the students gather for tea. During this time the children share their journals and can reflect upon the day. The instructor asks the children a question. Through their answers, the children express gratitude for something in their day. The day ends with song, verse and handshake.