A “sense of place” refers to a child’s connection with their community and natural environment. A sense of place is developed with a place-based education approach that fosters those connections. Place-based education immerses children in their local community, landscapes, heritage, and experiences. It is using the local natural and human world to learn science, social studies, math, art, music, and language.
Research has shown that children lose their sense of place when they are focused too quickly or exclusively on national or global issues. It follows the idea that before children can tackle the problems of the rainforest in Brazil they need to love the woods down the street. By exploring the local environment children learn a fundamental connection to the natural world and their place in it. Place-based education does not overlook global or national issues but simply strives to give children a sense of their own place and a love of their own place first. Through hands-on, project-based learning children get involved in the real world right outside their door.
How can you help the children in your class begin to develop their own sense of place?
- Developing a Sense of Place
- A Sense of Place: Human Geography in the Early Childhood Classroom
- Beyond Ecophobia by David Sobel
- You Can’t Bounce Off the Walls if There are No Walls: Outdoor Schools Make Kids Happier and Smarter by David Sobel
- Benefits to Taking Children Outside and Considerations before Stepping out the Door
Related Growing Up WILD activities:
- Oh, Deer!
- Field Study Fun
Related KinderNature activities:
- Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms & Communities by David Sobel
- The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places by Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble