Outdoor Literacy Opportunities: Using Student-Created Field Guides in the Early Years




Jolivet, Sara

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Outdoor learning is noted to have holistic benefits for child development (Dyment, 2005; Blanchet-Cohen & Elliot, 2011), however there is limited documentation on the efficacy of outdoor literacy learning for young learners. Humans are inherently connected with nature (Wilson, 1993), but sadly today’s students often do not have exposure to outdoor learning opportunities beyond the bookends of a school day (Kimbro, Brooks-Gunn, & McLanahan, 2011). This project arose out of a desire to explore outdoor literacy learning opportunities and develop an implementation plan for teachers. The result is the student-created field guide project which focuses on documentation of outdoor literacy learning. Through the use of field guides, teachers are able to assess learning over time, understand student interest through inquiry, and allow for student-choice as a facet of literacy instruction. The student-created field guide process results in engagement of learners as they have real-world experiences to pull from during literacy activities (Strickland &Morrow, 1989; Eick, 2012; McMillan & Wilhelm, 2007). By exploring relevant literature, and considering Indigenous Ways of Knowing in this project’s development, a child-honouring teaching practice is crafted through the use of student-created field guides. The simplistic design of the field guides is intended as an accessible entry point for teachers and students of varying familiarity with student-created resources and outdoor learning. Finally, future goals of this work are discussed.



outdoor literacy, student-created resources, language arts