Geographies of Children

Student Park Interpretations

Students’ mental maps and interviews present their own personal interpretations of the park. Throughout the interviews, students demonstrated clear feelings of ownership of the park space and awareness of self in relation to the park. This was shown mostly through their ability to describe navigating the park and though telling stories about the park. Specifically, students focused on whom they attended the park with and where they go within the park, directions/paths, and local stories. Students frequently described how to get from one place in the park to another. This often was because of the structure of the interview questions, but also showed a sense of autonomy and agency in the park (through expressing a sense of wayfinding). Students also shared personal experiences and stories (real or fabricated) that assert local knowledge. Students often tell stories involving exciting or frightening events that happened in the park or the surrounding area. These stories are a way for students to explain unique knowledge of space that the interviewer cannot possess. We understood and analyzed student’s interpretations of the park by their feelings towards nature,the park as a learning space and the park as a social space.


Below is a word cloud made up of all student speech from the park mapping interviews. The larger the word, the more students said it.