Third-grade teachers talked with their students about the possibility of continuing work that earlier classes had begun on a trail that would link their school to an area park. The students were interested in learning more so they invited to their school staff from Portland Trails (the local land trust) and other organizations that had worked on the trail. The students were eager to help design and build the trail once they met those already involved in other segments of the project (including representatives of Portland Trails, Northern Utilities, the City’s Department of Public Works, Lucas Tree, and L.L. Bean).
In their classes, the students learned about designing and constructing a trail. To help with mapping and trail building, the students developed familiarity with geometry/shapes, fractions, measurements, multiplication, circumference and diameter. The teachers incorporated other parts of the curriculum by having students write reflections, read books about the environment, study the earth and weather patterns, and learn about civics and government.
Before the students could start work on the trail, they needed to raise community awareness and build support for the trail. The students made and distributed posters about the trail project, built birdhouses for the trail, got permission from local landowners to have the trail cross their property, and designed “I’m a Trail Builder” buttons. In the spring, the students began work on trail construction. Working with community partners, teachers and interested community members, the students cleared away debris, built bridges and constructed the trail. When the trail was complete, it was unveiled at a community celebration. The trail is now open and used frequently by students, teachers and community members!