ACTIVE Awareness & Connection Through Intimate Visual Experience


To enhance spatial awareness and sensitivity to visual intimations of nature. 


Just like ACTS, Awareness & Connection Through Intimate Visual Experience (ACTIVE) proffers participants an opportunity to experience nature via the environment’s visible intimations. This activity aims to enhance the participants’ attention to detail, especially the unique characteristics of each object.

Location and Time

TIME REQUIRED: ACTIVE could be completed successfully in 60 minutes. It could also be extended to allow time to participate in small group reflection. 


It is said, “Vision is a magnificent, specialized sense that gives us the ability to observe movement, shape, perspective, and color in our environment.” This sense however depends entirely on the eyes that process light information. Each eye contains millions of photoreceptors known as rods and cones that convert light stimuli to electrical messages. Rods are more sensitive to light and dark, while cones are more receptive to color and fine detail. There are approximately 125 million rods and 7 million cones. There are three types of cones, each sensitive to one of the three colors: red, blue and green.


Choose a site (e.g. natural reserve, park, football field, etc.) big enough to accommodate all participants to work independently.

This activity requires participants to select three types of objects to observe. Additionally, they must choose three different representatives or items of each type, for a total of nine objects to examine. Participants will have five minutes for each examination.

One type must be non-living. The other two types must be living, one of which must be from the plant kingdom. For the non-living type, the participant may choose a rock, soil, and a cloud. It is also acceptable if he or she chooses three different kinds of rocks to observe.

For the plant type, participants may choose three different species or three individual plants of the same species (e.g. oak, eucalyptus, and olive; three individual rose bushes).

For the other living type, participants may choose to observe a set of animals or another set of plants. If a participant selects to observe animals, he or she may observe three different species or three individuals of the same species (e.g. dog, cat, beetle; three beetles).

Participants are strongly discouraged from touching or handling any object without the facilitator’s knowledge. This is important to minimize if not eliminate risk of any unpleasant reaction to the contact. Remind the participants to wash their hand or parts of their body that have had contact with objects.

Ask the participants to choose an area where they would like to examine and document QUIETLY for 45 MINUTES the visual traits of the objects they have chosen to observe. They may travel to different places to complete nine observations. If they do, advise the participants to move cautiously, so as not to disrupt the environment.

Encourage participants to focus on the morphology of each object. Participants can compare and contrast the visual qualities such as color, pattern, shape or size. Remind participants not to be obsessed in giving the exact qualities. Rather, instruct them to use several descriptive words and phrases to create a fuller image of the object. They can also compare and contrast these visual qualities among the objects they are observing or to objects that they often encounter.

If participants choose to observe animals, suggest focusing on the behavior, movement or patterns of behavior and movement of animals.

Remind participants to be vivid, ostensible, and comprehensive with their written observations, which must be in paragraph format. In addition to the written descriptions, participants may sketch or illustrate their observations to clarify and elicit accurate imagination.

After 45 minutes, allow participants additional time to reflect or bring their observations to closure. If additional time is given, the facilitator should announce how much additional time will be allotted.

After completing their observation and documentation, the facilitator should gather all participants to an area within the environment and encourage them to share their descriptions to a classmate or the group. Each participant should be given the opportunity to share his or her experience. Participants are also encouraged to communicate any emotions and/or impressions they feel after observing each object (e.g. fearful, reminiscent, peaceful).

Ask participants to pair up. Have one read his or her observation while the other draws or interprets the observation.

This activity should be repeated several times in the same or different environments to enhance and instill visual sensitivity and recognition.


Language Arts/Literature:  For any piece of literature, instruct the participants to be sensitive to poetic devices that utilize visual tropes to appeal to them (e.g. kenning, simile, synecdoche, imagery, symbolism, etc.).Visual/Performing Arts:  Let participants watch a live performance or an art exhibit, and let them describe the scenery, the colors and shapes they see in it. Also ask them to describe the emotions such images evoke in them.Social Science:  While studying different historical periods, let participants create images (collage, painting, sketch, etc.) that would best represent a time period (e.g. Medieval, Renaissance, World War I, World War II, Industrial Revolution, etc.)Natural Science:  Supplement ACTIVE with lessons on refraction and reflection of light, lens, true image, and magnification.

Teacher Materials

  • Hand lens or binoculars
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Graph paper (to measure areas of leaves, petals or any flat objects)