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  • Writer's pictureSarah Hudson

Place-Based Learning and Elementary Literature

What is “place-based learning”?

Place-based learning is a method of practice that uses places and the resources found there to learn across disciplines. This can include a place’s cultures, history or geophysical features. With place-based learning, the hope is to foster a sense of place for individuals within their community. This practice helps encourage good citizenship and helps students understand, appreciate and care for their communities. Place Based Learning - Decoda

Does this sound familiar? Place-based learning supports and integrates the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning.


Technology, Nature, and Literature

iNature is an excellent tool to encourage exploration and inquiry with students of all ages. By simply downloading the app onto an iPad, students can take a picture, identify the plant, animal or insect, discover interesting facts and pose questions for follow-up inquiry. This video explains how to use this tool.


Indigenous Literature and Place-Based Learning

Place-based learning is embedded within all foundational First Peoples’ Principles of Learning.

For example:

  • Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).

  • Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.

  • Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.


The following curated resources are engaging entry points, integrating literature options and lessons to springboard place-based – First Peoples Principles of Learning, in your classroom. Enjoy!


Synopsis Credits: Strong Nations Bookstore website.


Sometimes I Feel Like a River - written by Danielle Daniel

In each of twelve short poems, a child tells us how or why they feel like the sun, a river, a mountain, a cloud, the rain, a forest and more. Their deeply felt connections and identification with these wonders point to how much we are all part of the natural world. Each poem comes to life through vivid, playful illustrations that show the children immersed in their surroundings. The book serves as a gentle call to action — to notice, appreciate, preserve and protect our environment, while delighting in all its beauty.


Stand Like a Cedar - written by Nicola I. Campbell

Award-winning storyteller Nicola I. Campbell shows what it means “to stand like a cedar” on this beautiful journey of discovery through the wilderness. Learn the names of animals in the Nłe7kepmxcín or Halq’emeylem languages as well as the teachings they have for us. Experience a celebration of sustainability and connection to the land through lyrical storytelling and Carrielynn Victor’s breathtaking art in this children’s illustrated book.


On The Trapline - Written by David A. Robertson

A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, "Is this your trapline?" Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago -- a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child's wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.


I know Here - written by Laurel Croza

The little girl in this story lives in a trailer near a forest in Saskatchewan, where her father is building a dam. She knows and loves everything about the place, but the dam is nearly finished, and when summer comes the family will move to Toronto - a city marked by a big red star on the map at school.


“Have the people in Toronto seen what I've seen?” the little girl asks, thinking of her road, her school, the forest where she plays hide-and-seek and where the wolf howls at night, the hill where she goes tobogganing in winter… And with her teacher's help, she finds a way to keep everything she loves about home.



From There to Here - written by Laurel Croza

A little girl and her family have just moved across the country by train. Their new neighborhood in the city of Toronto is very different from their home in the Saskatchewan bush, and at first everything about “there” seems better than “here.”


The little girl’s dad has just finished building a dam across the Saskatchewan River, and his new project is to build a highway through Toronto. In Saskatchewan, he would come home for lunch every day, but now he doesn’t come until supper. The family used to love to look at the stars, and the northern lights dancing in the night sky. But in the city, all they can see is the glare from the streetlights. All the kids used to run and play together, but now older brother Doug has his own friends.


Then one day there is a knock on the door. It is Anne, who lives kitty-corner and is also eight, going on nine, and suddenly living in Toronto takes on a whole new light.

The Two Sisters - written by E. Pauline Johnson

For the first time, Pauline Johnson’s "The Two Sisters,” a First Nations legend, is accompanied by sumptuous illustrations that showcase the splendour of the Salish Sea. The universal themes of Creation, courage, and peace run through this legend of two little girls who grow up to be courageous young women who help to bring lasting peace to their world. The story is supplemented by a reference section that will enable a reader, parent, teacher, or visitor to the coast to immerse themselves in the rich history of Coast Salish cultures.


Learning to Carve Argillite - written by Robert Davidson and Sara Florence Davidson

From the creators of Potlatch as Pedagogy: Learning Through Ceremony, the Sḵ'ad'a Stories series brings intergenerational learning to life. Haida children learn important life lessons from their Elders through real-life situations, cultural traditions, and experiences out on the land.



Jigging for Halibut With Tsinii - written by Robert Davidson and Sara Florence Davidson

Based on Haida artist Robert Davidson's own experiences with Tsinii (his grandfather), this beautiful story highlights intergenerational knowledge and authentic learning experiences.

Off the northern tip of Haida Gwaii, a boy goes fishing with his tsinii, his grandfather. As they watch the weather, jig for halibut, and row with the tides, there’s more to learn from Tsinii than how to catch a fish.

Written by the creators of Potlatch as Pedagogy, this book brings the Haida Sk'ad'a Principles to life through the art of Janine Gibbons.




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