Sense of Place

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This document was created to assist instructors in transferring feelings and experiences from students at IslandWood back to their schools and communities. This document should be viewed as a resource to be enhanced and deepened by further additions. Pdf.png (Download a PDF version of this page.


There are many definitions regarding “Sense of Place” and we especially liked the definition below along with the diagram. The full research article explaining the diagram can be found in the resources section.

“Sense of place does not describe only a physical reality—rather it represents belief in the spirit of a locale, the living force that makes “undifferentiated space [become] place as we get to know it better and endow it with value “” (Tuan, 1977, p. 6, Ardoin 2006)

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  • For clarification purposes, Place-Based education is the techniques used to establish or develop sense of place in students.

Strategic Activities

  • Story telling activities
  • Sound mapping – or 5 sense mapping 
  • Perspective journaling 
  • Perspective walk
     (10 new things in an unfamilar area) 
  • Observations 
    • Journaling 
    • Poems 
    • Drawings 
    • Conversations 
    • Interviews 
  • Natural journal field guides 
  •  Human camera 

  •  IW Journal @ home                     
    •  Weather tracking 
    •  I spy page 
  •  Emotion mapping 
  •  Geographic mapping 
  •  “I Am From” 
    •  Poetry 
    •  Visual Arts 
  •  Intentional gratitudes 
  •  Community Agreement 
  •  Collage of “your place” 
    •  “Feelings in a space” 
  •  Urban Solo Walk 
    •  Make own cards 
  •  Technology 
    •  IW app 
    •  Facebook groups 
  •  How do we explore this further?? 
  •  Community Ecosystems 
  •  Encouraged Explorations to new 
    natural places in familiar spaces 
  •  Sit spots 
  •  Native stories 
  •  Community restoration 
  •  Service learning


These are some factors instructors should consider when developing a lesson plan or activity for students to use when they leave IslandWood: 

  • Personal Relevance to student 
  • Motivating and Fascinating for the student 
  • Low barriers – ease of completing the activity 
  • Physical Tools and skills necessary 
  • Individual and Community 
  • Personal Lens/expert blind spot 
  • Culture, age, environment 
  • Fostering the feeling vs. transferring the feeling



Toward an Interdisciplinary Understanding of Place: Lessons for EnvironmentalEducation. Ardoin, N.M. (2006). 

Finding Your Sense of Place Through Observation, Art, Journaling and Poetry Activities

Compilation of Place-Based Education Research and Studies - January 2008