Gratitude Nature Walk
- Participate in a nature walk to practice gratitude for their school or home community
- Make observations and wonderings (questions) about nature, and reflect on humans’ impact on the world around them
- Gather and share artifacts with peers
When people spend time in nature, research shows that they report higher levels of positive emotions such as awe, contentment, and gratitude, which lead to greater wellbeing and life satisfaction. As students go on their nature walks, educators should encourage them to practice mindfulness to recognize and express their emotions, and kindness to understand the importance of caring for the world around them.
To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
- Introduce the activity to students: going on a nature walk around their school or home community. If students are engaging in a nature walk at home, always practice safety, and remind them to only go on nature walks with adult supervision. If students are unable to go on a physical walk, consider using Google Earth to explore your community virtually.
You might say: “We’re going to go on a nature walk to notice and express gratitude for things that we love about our community. This can include leaves falling, flowers sprouting, birds chirping, or anything else that you find beautiful or special!”
- Ask students to bring the “Nature Walk” handout and something to write with. Find the handout for students ages 5-11 years old here, and the handout for students ages 11-14 years old here.
- Guide students through the nature walk by sharing the following instructions:
• Notice any emotions that you experience, and what you can hear, see, or smell.
• Write, or draw pictures, on your worksheet to document any living creatures that you notice, like insects, plants, and animals.
• Write down any questions that you have, such as: “I wonder if any animals live inside that tree?”
• Collect an artifact from the nature walk that is meaningful and/or unique to you. Remember, only take what nature is ready to give (e.g. do not pluck leaves from trees).
- After students complete their nature walk, engage them in a Think-Pair-Share activity. Students should:
• Think individually about something they noticed during their nature walk (or collected as an artifact) and write down why they found it interesting or special.
• Pair with a classmate to share their observations and/or artifacts. Encourage students to reflect on any similarities and differences in what they notice and love about their community.
• Share their findings with the rest of the class. During this part, educators should write down students’ responses on a digital or physical board that is visible to everyone. This is a great opportunity for students to feel connected to each other by asking if others also found a similar artifact, or by sharing something similar that is meaningful to them too.
- End the activity by leading a group reflection, and ask the following questions:
• Why are you grateful for the environment in our community? What do you love about it?
• What are some benefits that our environment provides to humans and other living creatures? (e.g., shelter, food, and water)
• How have humans impacted this environment?
• Should this space be protected for all the living creatures that depend on it (including us)?
• What is something that you wish people would do differently to help protect and respect our environment?
If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...
Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call.
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.
If students in either class don’t have individual devices...
Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.