Supportive Routines in Place-Conscious Learning

Place based education is “concerned with methods, while a place conscious pedagogy is a philosophical and political orientation within the field of education” (Fraser, 2016). There are core routines that can support a place conscious pedagogy in practice, however a place-conscious pedagogy is mostly an orientation towards teaching and learning in place. 

Drawing connections between the local context and the curriculum to promote awareness of place are important in a place-conscious pedagogy. Place both teaches us and defines us. People make places, and places help make people (Gruenewald, 2003). To really know a place is to understand how the environment, culture, and politics have worked to shape it (Greenwood, 1994). Here are some examples of core routines and practices that educators in BC might use to enact a place-conscious pedagogy: 

  • Forest School is a way of being with young children outdoors that does not necessarily require a forest to enact. Defining characteristics of forest school include repeated and frequent visits to the same place, and the use of an emergent curriculum to facilitate a child directed pedagogy of play. Forest School Canada, an initiative of the Child & Nature Alliance, has developed a guide for practitioners
  • The Walking Curriculum challenges teachers to re-imagine how and where they teach while encouraging teachers to personally re-connect to their local places and community. The curriculum offers 60 different invitations for walks with students of all ages that engage and connect learners to discoveries that change perspectives and shift understandings. ImaginED is an online portal with resources, sample lessons, and a community of practice. Download and Try the Walking Curriculum (Shared with Gillian Judson’s permission)
  • Nature Journaling   provides opportunities for children to slow down and look closely to record their wonders and questions. Over time, nature journals can help children begin to notice seasonal patterns, and feel more connected to the biodiversity of life in their community.  Download a free copy of How to Teach Nature Journaling that includes 31 hands-on field activities “to connect art, science, math, and critical thinking, while encouraging students and mentors alike to recognize and record the wonder and beauty in the natural world”: 
  • Sit spots are favourite spaces that we revisit to notice and pay attention to change over time in the natural world. Sit spots help cultivate relationships with the more-than-human world because they encourage mindfulness and an increased focus on the subtle changes of seasonal phenomenon. Watch a video prepared by Lauren McLean on how she uses this core routine in her practice


With thanks to Megan Zeni, content author, and those who contributed resources.


British Columbia Ministry of Education, (2021a). Glossary of Curriculum Terms. Retrieved from the BC Ministry of Education Website:

Dahle-Huff, & Kari L. (2015). Learning Locally: Place Conscious Education in an Urban Charter School, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. 

Fraser, E. (2016). Place-Conscious Pedagogy and Sackville, New Brunswick, as a Learning Community. Journal of New Brunswick Studies, 7 (1), 105-128. 

Freire, P., & Ramos, M. B. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Herder and Herder.

Greenwood, D. (2013) A Critical Theory of Place Conscious Education. In Stevenson R. B., Brody M., Dillon J. and Wals A. E. J.(Eds.), International handbook of research on environmental education. Routledge. 

Gruenewald, D. A. (2003) Foundations of place: A multidisciplinary framework for place-conscious education. American Educational Research Journal, 40(3), 619-654. 

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