Texture mapping

Have you ever thought of all the different features and surfaces around us? Each of them look and feel different. Use your sense of touch to explore and make a map of an outdoor space, taking notice of what you can touch, and what it feels like. This activity provides an introduction to getting to know a space through a creative form of ‘mapping’ and connecting to nature through the senses.

This activity encourages children and young people to use their sense of touch to make a conceptual map of an outdoor space, taking notice of what they can feel, and where. 

Alternatively, this activity can be adapted to ‘map’ sounds using our sense of hearing. See the Sound mapping activity for this format. This activity also works well with 3D Model making.

< 30 minutes
All ages


What you need
  • Plain sheets of paper 
  • Clipboards, enough for one per person 
  • Pencils 


Useful guidance

Step by step

  1. Before heading outside, start with a simple exercise to introduce the idea of mark making: What would a rough texture look like on paper? How could you show a smooth texture? What would something spiky look like? Or something dry, or wet? How can the pressure of a pencil, or different lines and shapes communicate different textures and surfaces?
  2. Gather your class in an area outside, with their paper and pencils.
  3. Draw yourself in the middle of your map. Start to walk around and explore the area you are in, stopping to take notice of the things you can touch and how they feel – leaves, trees, flowers, the ground beneath your feet, any human-made objects.
  4. Then start to draw the things you are feeling and where they are in your space on your map.
  5. Draw different lines, patterns or symbols for each texture – does it feel rough or smooth, spiky or fuzzy, hot or cold, wet or dry? Try and make the same feeling with your pencil.
  6. Try and fill your map with all the different textures you can feel. Where are they in the space?
  7. To round up, open a discussion about what different things the group touched and felt – create a tally or map back in the classroom of how dominant different textures were - e.g. hard ground, smooth leaves, rough bark, etc. Were there more natural textures noticed or human-made? What does this tell us about our site?


How did different textures make you feel? (calm, happy, irritated, curious?) Did you notice any textures you liked or disliked? Were there certain areas of your site that featured more enjoyable textures than others?