From building concentration to increasing a child’s retention of knowledge, there are lots of fantastic reasons to take maths learning outside! The following outdoor maths activities and games are ideal for using at home or in school, and can be easily adapted for all ages.
1. Mathematical explorer
This game is perfect for walks or when relaxing in the great outdoors. Point out anything that catches your eye, such as birds, trees or even clouds in the sky. Then, challenge your children to see how many they can spot!
Once they’ve counted all they can, ask them questions about the number they’ve just counted, focusing on a topic they’re learning about. For example, your questions could be around addition and subtraction, times tables or positive and minus numbers. You could ask:
- Is the number you counted odd or even?
- What would a third of this number be?
- How many ducks would there be if there were twice as many?
2. Dazzling data
Encourage children to collect a variety of objects from outside, such as leaves, branches or stones. The more diverse their collections, the better.
When you head back inside, encourage everyone to group their items into categories. These could be based on colour, item type, weight or size. This task will be more challenging for those who have picked up lots of different items!
Ask everyone to plot their groups on a bar chart, colouring each bar a different colour. Invite older children to work out the mean, median and mode of the groups.
3. Amazing angles
Draw out some angles in chalk on the ground, using long lines to make them easier to see and measure. Ask your children whether they think each angle is acute, obtuse or a right-angle. Then, encourage them to measure them with a protractor to see if they’re correct!
Once they’ve measured all of the angles, encourage them to draw their own. For example, you could ask, ‘draw an angle that is 60 degrees’.
4. Show me a shape
This game is perfect for younger children. Ask children to find objects that are similar in shape to squares, rectangles, triangles and circles. This will help them develop their understanding of what these shapes are and how they can be found all around us.
As you continue, discuss how the items they have found are not completely flat, but are actually more like cuboids, pyramids, spheres, or a combination of several. This is a fantastic way to visually demonstrate the relationship between 2D and 3D shapes!
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5. Multiplications hopscotch
Write out multiples from 1 to 12 for a times table your child is memorising in a hopscotch format. Call out various times tables questions (‘what’s 2 times 4?’) and challenge your child to hop to the correct answer (or use multiple hops if the answer is too far away!) as quickly as they can.
6. Mental maths hopscotch
Using the same format and rules as the above, you can also challenge your child’s mental maths! Write out the numbers 1 to 20 in a hopscotch. Then, ask questions such as:
- What’s 5 plus 9?
- What’s 18 minus 7?
- What’s a third of 12?
If you’re playing the game with multiple children, you could make it into a challenge. Ask each child 10 questions and see who can correctly answer them in the fastest time!
7. Tell the time with the sun
This is a brilliant way to teach children about the earth’s daily orbit around the sun and how the way we tell the time is connected to this.
On a sunny day, place the pole from a garden umbrella upright on a hard surface. Every hour, on the hour, head outside and draw a line on the ground in chalk where its shadow lies, along with the time it was recorded.
At the end of the day, take a look at just how much the shadow has moved throughout the day!
8. Fantastic fractions
Gather 24 items, including rocks, twigs and anything else you can find outdoors. Then, ask your child questions about fractions, encouraging them to move the rocks to help them visualise proportions in action. You could ask questions along the lines of:
- Can you divide what we have here into thirds?
- How many pebbles are there?
- What is this as a proportion of the total?
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