Supportive core routines for place-based learning

Many place-based educators rely on core routines to support their teaching practice. 

Core routines are deliberate and intentional habits that build a community of learners in a shared space of learning. Core routines are important for establishing safety protocols and provide a sense of structure, particularly when introducing resources or materials that will be used with learners outdoors. Sometimes core routines are teacher directed, and sometimes they are freely chosen by learners. An example of a core routine in place-based learning is looking closely. Teachers can intentionally introduce a variety of tools for looking closely to the entire class, like magnifying lenses, binoculars, or bug viewers. Once routines for borrowing and returning are established and practiced, and learners have demonstrated suitable care for the equipment, looking closely becomes a self-selected core routine that learners may choose to engage with while outdoors. Once established as a core routine, looking closely becomes a habit that learners will automatically lean into whenever they slow down and pay attention to the natural world. 

There are multiple websites that house ideas, resources, and core routines for teachers who wish to rethink where learning happens in their schools. The following sites have been curated to inspire your teaching and learning outdoors.

Children and Nature Network

The Children & Nature website offers a wealth of resources including research supported infographics to share with families and colleagues on the benefits of time spent learning in and with nature.

Access the infographics

Access the research library with thousands of research articles summarized for easy access

Classrooms to Communities (C2C)

Classrooms to Communities is a network of educators across BC who work collaboratively to build capacity for place-based education and environmental literacy in the K-12 school system. Sign up for notification of local events and the annual conference that brings together the best of the best in outdoor play and learning across western Canada

The Columbia Basin Outdoor Store

The Outdoor Learning Store is Canada’s first non-profit teacher supply store.  All profits go back into the outdoor learning community in British Columbia. Items for sale have been curated by expert educators. Sign up for access to podcasts, free webinars and workshops with thought leaders and practitioners from around the world. 

Environmental Educators Provincial Specialist Association

Public school teachers in British Columbia are invited to join a professional learning community that supports networking, curriculum support and leadership in environmental education in BC. Local chapters have been established in many school districts to support place- specific community building and
collaboration. Check this page to see if your district has a local established and how to start one if you don’t see your district listed!

Learning in Places

The Learning in Places project offers innovative frameworks and thoughtful pathways to place-based education that are equitable and culturally responsive. Teachers can access learning engagements that include a framework for unit overviews and lesson plans on the website.

Access the seasonal storyline for field-based science education

Access an easy to use guide, with step by step instructions for designing places for outdoor learning on schoolyards

The Nature Playbook by Parks Canada

View or Download the Nature Playbook PDF. This document includes resources and examples from across the country on how to play outdoors in urban, rural and community spaces with children. This document is also available in French.

Outdoor Classroom Day

Outdoor Classroom Day began as an idea that teachers might take their students outdoors for an entire day once a year, but has become an international movement with two official dates for participation.Sign up to receive resources for year-round outdoor play and learning at schools, and to access webinars, tutorials and podcasts all centred on place making opportunities for young people in the school context.

Outdoor Play Canada

Outdoor Play Canada is your primary source for research, practice, and exemplars of outdoor play in Canada. This website serves as a hub for educators, families, and health practitioners who advocate for taking more kids outdoors more often.

Access the position statement on active outdoor play

Access organizations and resources that directly support outdoor play in Canada

Room to Play, Megan Zeni

Room to Play consulting offers both researched blog posts and quick to inspire seasonal social media feeds that support a pedagogy of place.

Professional learning for elementary school teachers from beginner to expert practitioners on school gardens and everything K-7 outdoor play and learning, from start up tips and tricks to assessment and evaluation strategies are offered. 

Take Me Outside

Take Me Outside is a Canadian organization that works collaboratively with non-profits, school districts and anyone interested in getting more kids outdoors more often. The website offers advocacy resources, professional learning, and challenges to keep your outdoor learning motivating in both french and english. The always popular “ask your teacher to take you outside” swag can be purchased from this website as well.

Teaching Prep Outdoors

The Framework for Outdoor Classroom resource was designed by Laura Jackman and offers a framework for starting an outdoor classroom in elementary schools. Download the document


With thanks to Megan Zeni, who compiled and sought permission for the inclusion of these resources.

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