X marks the spot

How well do you know your outdoor space? This activity encourages learners to take notice of what is around them and starts to introduce the concept of mapping in an outdoor space. This activity will help learners to familiarise and orientate themselves within their learning site, providing the building blocks to start thinking about what can be changed or improved for nature, and for play. 

~ 1 hour


What you need
  • Map outlining your grounds, marked with ‘X’s for the hidden objects – one copy per pair
  • Up to 5 objects to hide around your site
  • Clipboards for each pair, if needed  
  • Outside
Useful guidance

Step by step

  1. Before heading outside, you will need to create a ‘map’ of your learning space. This can be downloaded from online, or, if you have mapped your site boundary on the National Education Nature Park, this can be used. Some large features such as trees, raised beds, benches, can be added to the map to help learners navigate around their grounds. 
  2. Hide up to 5 different objects around the outdoor space, recording the locations on the map with an ‘X’. These can be related to your space, such a flower, or toy animals that represent what you might see outside – or these can be other surprises such as sweets or teddy bears. Make sure to hide these somewhere where they won’t be seen right away! 
  3. Before starting the activity, take learners on a walk around your outdoor space, asking them to point out any significant features like large trees or play equipment. Split learners into pairs, with one map between them.
  4. Give each pair a copy of the map and ask learners a few ‘where am I?’ questions to help them get used to orientating themselves on the map. For example, ‘I am stood between the tree and the climbing frame, where am I on the map?’ 
  5. Once they are confident in using the map to locate different places in the space, ask them to use their map to find the hidden objects marked with ‘X’. Remind learners not to tell other groups where they have found the objects so that everyone has a chance to explore the map!


Invite learners to reflect on this activity by asking:

  • How did you use the map to find each ‘X’?