Sense of Place



Use the full range of your imagination in order to consider the deep meaning of the places where you live. Sense of place is a search for ecological roots. This is best accomplished when you have a relationship to the land on which you live, when you can place yourself securely in a tangible place. It's through the place that you live that you construct your personal identity, your relationship to the landscape, and you determine what is important in your life.

Sense of place concerns your home and region, feelings about land and community, kindred species, community niches, and sacred places. To have a sense of place is to merge your personal geography with the ecological landscape, incorporate maps of memory with how you dwell in a bioregion.


  1. Start by having students discuss the following questions:
  • What is a place?
  • What are some ways in which people experience place?
  • How can you gain a sense of place in your local environment?
  • How can you share your observations and ideas about living things in your environment to help someone else learn about place?

2. After discussing in a group, complete the following activity:

A. Create a map of the physical space in which you live. How broad or how specific you define that place is up to you. You could do your city, or your home. You may interpret the map how you wish. For example: drawing a picture, creating a mind map, or putting together a photo collage all work well. Consider the following when drawing your map:

      • What are the sources of the water near you? How are those connected to each other? As you do this think about how this water is connected to your own life.
      • Water shapes the land around it. What are the landforms in your place? How does the water interact with them?
      • Water can also come from many different places: oceans, lakes, rivers, wells, springs, groundwater, ice, and weather.
      • How does the water move through your place? Does it run through a river, or evaporate and fall in the water cycle

B. Share your map with the group or with a partner. Describe your creation process interpret the map    

      • Students can share their maps on the Gallery section of the Ocean Literacy Course that suits your grade level. 

C. Display all of the maps around the room. Have the students choose one (other than their own or their partner's) that speaks to them. As a group, have the students comment on which map stood out to them and how they interpreted their map. How do you view this new place? What connections do you see the water making in this person’s life?

      • Students may comment on other student's maps under their post in the Gallery on the Ocean Literacy Course 

3. With your class, discuss the following:

  • How has your view and understanding of place changed during this assignment?
  • What did you notice about your place that you were not aware of before?
  • Did you discover anything that threatens your place? How does climate change affect the place where you live?
  • What solutions do you see for protecting your place? What solutions could you create and implement to make an impact in your place?

Learning Objectives

To Introduce the concept of Ocean Literacy and develop students' awareness and connection to their place

The ocean influences all areas of our daily life, including our food, oxygen, homes, travel, economy, and passions. Through the Ocean Literacy course, you will be exploring all different sides of the ocean,  its influence on our place, and how we have a powerful influence over the ocean. 

Suggested Discussion Questions:

  • Ask the students what comes to mind when they think of the ocean? 
  • How do you know this? Where does this information come and how do we as humans develop this understanding? 
  • Why do you think understanding is important? (e.g. understanding others, understanding culture, understanding the ocean) 
  • What are your basic needs? How does this compare to the plants and animals around you? 

This activity may be used to support the following learning objectives and competencies 

GRADES: Elementary, Intermediate, Secondary 


  • Nature has observable features
  • Living things have features and behaviours that help them survive in their environment
  • Water is essential to all living things, and it cycles through the environment
  • Living things sense and respond to their environment


Questioning and Predicting

  • Demonstrate curiosity and a sense of wonder about the world 
  • observe objects and events in familiar context
  • Make observations aimed at identifying their own questions about the natural world 

Planning and Conducting

  • Make exploratory observations using their senses 
  • Make and record observations 

Processing and Analyzing data and information

  • experience and interpret the local environment 
  • discuss observations
  • represent observations and ideas by drawing pictographs


  • compare observations with those of others
  • consider some environmental consequences of their actions

Applying and Innovating

  • Take part in caring for self, family, classroom, and school through personal approaches


  • Share observation and ideas orally, written language or drawing
  • Express and reflect on personal, shared or others' experience of place

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