My Place and Space

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Lesson Overview

This lesson explores how we spatially orient ourselves in different situations and how that can be applied to the study of habitat. On a personal level, students will think about how their spatial orientation gives them clues about their sense of safety, belonging, engagement, autonomy, and connection to place. Film will be the grounding experience in this lesson.


This lesson works best with a film that focuses on habitat or land use patterns. The film does not necessarily need to be very long. It can be a 5-minute clip of a news story or a full-length feature film.

Sample Guiding Question:

"What do our surroundings - the places we inhabit - mean to us?"


1.  Begin class by having students journal on the guiding question.

2. Highlight the lesson vocabulary with the group. Ask the students to take time to work on the My Place and Space Questionnaire.

3.  As a group, share and have a circle discussion on the following questions:

  • How would you feel if your favorite place or the place you feel the most comfortable was no longer available to you? How would you react?
  • Ask students if they agree with the statement: Our surroundings influence how we feel.

4. Explain to the students that they will be doing some experiments to see how they spatially orient themselves in different situations and places.

5. Hand each student one piece of legal size black construction paper, one plastic headband, and glue or tape. Instruct students to glue the paper to the headband to create a “shield” from ear to ear across the top of their head. They should still be able to see, but their top and side views will be obstructed. Show them a completed sample.

6.  Ask the students to sit at their desks, observing the classroom and filling out a copy of the My Place and Space Test.

7.  For homework, students should complete four different tests using the shield at home and bring back their results the following day. This can also be done at school with additional time and various new locations.  

8. When students return, split them into groups of five and have them compile their results using whatever process time permits. As a class, create a list of common characteristics observed and speculate on the data.

9. View the first half of the film while wearing the shields. View the second half of the film without shields.

10. At the conclusion of the film, have an informal conversation about how the students felt wearing the shields and about the content of the film. Tie it back to the guiding question.

11.  Lead a circle discussion on the following questions:

  • How would you feel if you were the organism or population whose habitat was being encroached upon? How would you feel if you were displaced?
  • How did this lesson help you understand the film and empathize with the people/animals in the film?
  • What will you do differently as a result of this experience?

Extend the Learning...

To assess learning, do one or more of the following:

  • Have students write a short story from the perspective of a “character” in the film.
  • Design a bumper sticker to communicate the theme/message of the film.
  • Make an ad to promote the theme/message of the film.

Post the products outside the classroom to educate the school community about habitat and changing land use patterns.


My Place and Space Questionnaire PDF:

Pdf.png My Place and Space Questionnaire.pdf

My Place and Space Test PDF:

Pdf.png My Place and Space Test.pdf

My Place and Space Lesson PDF:

Pdf.png My Place and Space Lesson.pdf

Time: 50-70 minutes


  • Film
  • Handout: My Place and Space Questionnaire
  • My Place and Space Test - 5 per student
  • Legal size black construction paper
  • Plastic head bands
  • Tape or glue

Special Considerations:

Reinforce learning by using new vocabulary during the lesson and, if possible, choosing a film that includes new vocabulary.

Strategies Used:

  • Cooperative Learning
  • The Study of Place as a Framework for Learning
  • Reflective Practices
  • Cooperative Learning