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10-60 minutes




Permission form (if an outing beyond school property), scavenger hunt list (optional), pens/pencils, journals


To improve support students' positive mental health and encourage emotional regulation and feelings of calm

Acknowledge different ways of understanding and experiencing the significance of nature and healing for different cultural groups and ensure safety in community for all students.

Please make sure to review ‘Considerations’ before beginning this practice.

  • Depending on where the school is located, this activity can occur as part of a daily activity, or special permission may be required to go on an outing to a green space.
  • Before the outing, ask students to:
    • Look for birds. How many birds will you see? Notice if they are all the same or different? How so?
    • Reflect on how they feel by being outside versus being in the classroom? What are some differences?
    • Pay attention to the gift of creation and God’s presence in it.
  • During the outing, provide a time frame for the activity and reconvene at a designated spot.
  • Back in class, follow up with the experiences either in a group, or ask that students write in a journal (can also be tied to a writing exercise).
  • Can be done as a scavenger hunt.
  • The outing may include time in silence, mindful of the sounds with eyes closed, followed by being mindful of smells with eyes closed and then continue in silence with eyes open, first sitting and then walking.
  • Students can have time to pray outside.

Research suggests spending time outside in natural environments improves individual mental health and emotional wellbeing. Providing an outdoor learning environment for students helps them to connect with nature and can produce a sense of calm (Tillmann et al., 2018; Capaldi et al., 2015; Bowler, et al., 2010). Having spaces or times for calming activities throughout the school day normalizes emotions, allows students to manage emotions so they can refocus and engage in learning, and has been linked to improved student achievement (Blair & Diamond, 2008).

Blair, C., & Diamond, A. (2008). Biological processes in prevention and intervention: The promotion of self-regulation as a means of preventing school failure. Development and Psychopathology, 20(3), 899-911. doi:10.1017/S0954579408000436

Bowler, D. E., Buyung-Ali, L. M., Knight, T. M., & Pullin, A. S. (2010). A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments. BMC public health, 10(1), 456.

Capaldi, C. A., Passmore, H.-A., Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. M., & Dopko, R. L. (2015). Flourishing in nature: A review of the benefits of connecting with nature and its application as a wellbeing intervention. International Journal of Wellbeing, 5(4), 1-16. doi:10.5502/ijw.v5i4.449

Tillmann, S., Tobin, D., Avison, W., Gilliland, J., (2018). Mental health benefits of interactions with nature in children and teenagers: A systematic review. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 72(10)

The Earth is God’s gift to humankind. Through our experience of nature we see God’s hand in the beauty of creation and our place within it.

(7i) A responsible citizen who respects the environment and uses resources wisely.