Activity Introduction

cc-primary9-heroQuick summary: Students learn about mapping and the value of natural elements within their immediate environment. They design a school ‘secret garden’ to improve environmental awareness and encourage creative play.

This lesson is designed to be taught outside. It contains all the tools required for students to reap the benefits of being outdoors while learning the outcomes of the Australian Curriculum. By spending time outdoors and connecting to nature, students are more likely to care for and conserve nature as adults.

We’ve taken elements of this lesson and adapted them for remote learning. You can find this activity here.


Essential questions:

  • Why are natural elements important to the environment?
  • What natural ‘treasures’ do we have at our school?
  • What could we include in our playground to encourage environmental awareness and creative play?
  • How can you create a map?
  • What are the keys to writing clear an effective directions?
  • What are the mental, physical and academic benefits of completing classroom activities outside?

21st century skills:

secret garden skills

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 5 Mathematics

  • Use a grid reference system to describe locations. Describe routes using landmarks and directional language (ACMMG113)

Year 6 Geography

  • Organise and represent data in a range of formats including tables, graphs and large- and small-scale maps, using discipline-appropriate conventions (ACHASSI124)

Syllabus outcomes: MA3-17MG, MA3‑1WM, GE3-4.

General capabilities: Numeracy.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2.

Relevant parts of Year 5 Mathematics achievement standards: Students use a grid reference system to locate landmarks.

Relevant parts of Year 6 Geography achievement standards: Students organise and represent data in a range of formats, including large and small scale maps, using appropriate conventions.

Topic: Outdoor Learning, Biodiversity.

Unit of work: Outdoor Learning Unit.

Time required: 60 mins

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – the teacher models and explains tasks, reads a section from a book and guides discussions.

Resources required: Device capable of displaying a website. Portable whiteboard, easel or device to write students’ brainstorming ideas. One copy of The Secret Garden Excerpt (for teacher use). One copy of the Map Grid Demo printed at A3 size (for teacher use). One copy of the Secret Garden – Map Grid and Map Directions for each pair of students. Blindfolds (optional). Student Worksheet – one copy per student OR computers/tablets to access the online worksheet (optional).

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

Keywords: Sustainability, nature, outdoor, maths, mathematics, maps, mapping, garden, design, outdoor learning.

Cool Australia would like to thank The Albert George & Nancy Caroline Youngman Trust – managed by Equity Trustees.

Youngman Trust Logo

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

cc-primary2-heroTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will understand how to create and interpret simple grid maps and how to apply 2D objects to simple grid maps. Students will recognise the need for clear instructions when creating directions for interpreting maps. Finally, students will understand that nature is full of secrets and that these secrets can be found in the school yard.

Outdoor learning information:

Outdoor Learning Series:


To help guide teachers through suggested activities in this lesson, we have developed a series of icons designed to show what types of activities are involved and where these activities may take place (see Learning Activity Key below).

learning activity icons key updated-v3

This lesson is designed to support students and teachers undertaking the Outdoor Learning Unit. Click here to

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: What would you plant in a secret garden?

Read the following quote and answer the questions below:

secret garden quote

Rewrite the quote in your own words:

What does this quote make you think about?

What does it make you wonder?

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