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Explore and Embrace a Special Wild Place: K-4



Explore and Embrace a Special Wild Place helps students discover their own special wild spaces where they can explore their relationship with the wild. As they come to know the wild creatures that share their space, they'll learn that, although such places provide sanctuary, these spaces also need our protection.

Students will:

  • take a field trip into the schoolyard or a local park to find their special wild space and begin to get to know it.
  • use observation and structured activities to develop a relationship with the space and record their observations
  • listen to two conflicting perspectives on how to treat a special wild space. They propose and discuss possible resolutions to the dilemma and create an ending for the story.
  • participate in a physically challenging team game in which they role-play a wild animal and work to connect four wild spaces that represent the animal’s key habitat needs.
  • do Web-based research to complete a quiz by matching the descriptions of 13 Canadian protected areas to the province or territory where they are found.

Each lesson includes a list of vocabulary words, materials needed, extensions activities and suggestions for evaluating students.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • making observations
  • using the internet
  • leave no trace


  • Material covered is relevant to the lives of learners.
  • The content is Canadian.
  • The resource allows teacher to meet curriculum expectations through engaging and environmentally-focused learning activities.
  • The resource contains detailed background information for the teacher and students.
  • Links to resources on the web are provided.
  • The activities are age-appropriate and can be adapted for different levels.


  • Needs to include some assessment tools as well as accommodations for students with learning difficulties
  • Action skills are not explicitly taught.
  • No opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students during the lessons.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

Ecosystems (5)

  • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Biodiversity
  • Habitat Loss
  • Interdependence
  • Wildlife Protection

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
  • Students  examine different age-appropriate points of view regarding the importance of protected spaces.  Students are presented with two conflicting perspectives on how to treat a special wild space.
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good
  • The students are presented with two conflicting perspectives on how to treat a special wild space. They propose and discuss possible resolutions to the dilemma. The resource addresses the environmental and social dimensions of the issue.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Satisfactory
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good
  • The resource includes a section entitled taking action which offers suggestions for action projects.
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good
  • A student’s special wild space can be defined on a personal level. A structured reflective process helps students deepen their connection to their special wild space.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
  • Not considered in this resource.
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good
  • Some of the lesson plans include outdoor activities where students can discover their own special wild places.
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good
  • The resource begins by helping students make connections to small, local spaces that are special to them and to wildlife. Further on, they extend the concept helping students discover places that are regionally, nationally, or even globally special for wildlife.
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good
  • Students produce artwork, writing, and other pieces that communicate about and celebrate their special wild spaces. Students are not steered toward one right answer.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good
  • Science
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Art
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good
  • Students use observation and structured activities to develop a relationship with their environment and record their observations, thoughts, and feelings.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Good
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good
  • Students participate in authentic, hands-on experiences.
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
  • Students work in groups.
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory
  • Some assessment suggestions are provided but no rubrics or ready to use assessment tools are included.
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Satisfactory
  • Students learn about the protected areas established in Canada.
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory
  • Some extensions to further the learning are provided.
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.