Solo walk


Students have an opportunity to walk alone on a trail spaced 2-3 minutes behind another student.  Along the trail are cards for students to read and reflect on.


Students will be able to:

  • Discuss feelings and/or reflections of their experiences.
  • Discuss components of ecosystems and make connections between components.


  • Ask students to pick their favorite solo walk card and explain why they picked it
  • Students discuss how they felt walking the trail in a group discussion
  • Journal reflections
  • Solo Walk Poem
  • Student Led Solo Walk
Age Group: 4th grade to Adult
Venue: Variable
Materials: Solo walk cards, timer
Time: 45-60 minutes
Set-up: Walk trail to place cards

The Lesson Plan:

“Have you ever walked in the woods alone? How might it be different from walking with the group? I will be placing cards along this trail that will ask you questions or provide a prompt for you. Each person will have a chance to walk down this trail individually and stop at each card to read the sentence or follow the directions. Some cards ask you to observe your surroundings, others will ask you to reflect on what you have learned about this place so far.”


  • After introducing the lesson, share an example card with the students both visually and verbally.  Let students know:
  • You will be waiting at the end of the trail for them
  • They will be spaced 2-3 minutes apart from their peers
  • If they see someone in front of them, they need to slow down and give that person time to walk
  • They will see cards leading them, if they haven’t seen a card in a while, they have gone off trail and should turn around
  • This is not a race, It is a quiet activity and they should stop at each card.
  • While students are waiting for their turn on the trail, they might play a game or do an open ended activity in their journal. Let your chaperone know if you would like students to be sent down the trail in a specific order.
  • Ask the Chaperone to give you a 2 minute head start so you can place the cards. If the trail is unclear in some places or comes to a junction (such as on the marsh loop), make sure students can see the next card down the tail from the junction so they know which way to go.
  • When students arrive at the end of the trail, have an activity ready for them
  • Journal reflections, sit spots, ecosystem observations, etc
  • Be creative with what you write on your solo hike cards. You may want to ask students to notice some things around them: colors , smells, sounds etc. Or you may ask them to reflect on their experience at IslandWood or their role in their team.  Here is a collection of “favorite cards” from various instructors over the years…

Conclusion & Debrief: 

  • At the end of the trail you may have students choose a sit spot and ask them to journal about their experience. When all students have returned, discuss the experience. “What was the most surprising thing about your solo walk?” “How did you feel during this experience?” “What did you observe when you came to _______ card?”
  • Once all students have arrived at the end of the trail circle up for a debrief. Allow time to discuss interesting things they saw. “Did anyone see the residents of _______ habitat?” “What did you observe when you came to _______ card?” “Were some habitats being shared?
  • Who shared them and why?” “What makes one habitat different than another?” “
  • Why do some animals/plants prefer one habitat over another?”
  • “Could these habitats be unique to this place?”
  • What did you notice?  What did you notice with different senses?
  • Which card was your favorite? Why?
  • Would you do this again? Why?
  • What do you wonder?

Safety Considerations:

  • Send students down the trail close enough together so that they can occasionally see each other. If any students are nervous to be on the trail alone, remind them that they’ll be able to see someone else in the group, or pair up two students who can work well together. Students who may need assistance in reading and writing may also be paired with a teammate who can help them.
  • Check surrounding area for stinging nettle or other possible risks

References: IslandWood Language Arts: Connecting Our Paths, by Brannin H. Musser.

Introduction: Indicate to students that there will be cards along the trail with questions. When students come across a card they will have time to individually investigate the question and write their thoughts in their journal.

Pick an investigation theme you would like students to conduct during their Solo Walk (example: habitat)

Sample Questions:
Nurse Log: Who/what could be living in/on this log? Why would they choose to live here?
Midden: Who left this here? Do they live nearby?
Man-made shelter (example: found in Forest Loop or Creaky Tree Wild Zone): Who might have built this? How long has it been here? 
Snag with woodpecker holes: Why are these holes here? Did something/someone make them?
Student Led Solo Walk

Additional Resources:

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