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Top 7 Outdoor Maths Activities for Kids

June 29, 2019

Fun Outdoor Maths Activities for Kids

When children learn, it can be beneficial to use a variety of approaches. One such approach is to take the learning outside! Although appropriate for all times of the year, the summer months especially are an excellent opportunity to make use of the typically dry, warm weather and enjoy maths outside. Incorporating numeracy into outdoor learning is a wonderful way to develop further appreciation for nature whilst working on important maths skills. Outdoors provide excellent opportunities for free math games for kids. This blogpost will be discussing a variety of engaging outdoor maths activities and math games for kids in 7 areas: multiplication, telling the time, counting, measuring, shapes, patterning and data collection.

1. Multiplication: Outdoor Maths Ideas

Make learning times tables fun with sticks! Each child locates a stick outside, then stands or sits in a circle with peers. If, for example, children are learning their two times table, the parent or teacher taps the stick 2 times on the ground. Round the circle, each child takes turns tapping the next number – in this case, 4, 6, 8, 10 and so on. This can be done for each times table and can also be reversed, counting backwards in times tables. Not only does this game help children to learn their times tables, it also encourages listening skills, concentration and turn-taking –great for outdoor maths KS1 and outdoor maths KS2. To further embed times tables, children can find outdoor objects such as flowers, leaves or pebbles to create arrays. For example, if learning the 5 times table, children could make three rows of five pebbles to visually display “3 x 5”.

2. Time: Outdoor Maths Activities

To support learning analogue time, children can use chalk to draw a clock on the ground. The hands of the clock can be demonstrated with sticks of two different lengths, encouraging the children to consider the hour and minute hands of a clock. Peers, teachers or parents can ask the child to then manipulate the sticks to show different times. For example, depending on age and ability, this could be 3 o’clock, quarter past 3 or twenty-five past 3. Kids may also benefit from analogue and digital flipcharts when learning to convert times. Moreover, chalk can also be used for outdoor maths activities KS2 and KS1 to draw around each child’s shadow. Throughout the day, children can go outside to observe changes in their shadow, such as how the sunlight makes their shadow shorter or longer. Alternatively, children can use a stick and 12 stones to create a sundial and observe the stick’s shadow changes with time over a day.

3. Counting: Outdoor Maths Ideas and Math Games for Kids

Why not try classic outdoor maths ideas for kids learning to count, such as an old school game of hopscotch – all you need is some chalk and you’re good to go! Alongside developing counting skills, children will also be improving their balance and motor skills as they hop to each square. Another fun outdoor maths activity can be drawing a number line on the floor with chalk, then throwing a numbered bean bag onto the number line. If, for example, the bean bag was numbered 5 and it lands on 7, children can add or subtract these two numbers. Combining maths with motor skills, this activity is also an excellent way for children to consider the importance of which number they start with when subtracting – for example, “7 – 5” or “5 – 7”. To further support counting, why not try excellent resources for outdoor maths KS1 and outdoor maths KS2, such as the Target Maths Game and outdoor wooden Jumbo Dominoes.

4. Measuring: Outdoor Maths Activities

The ability to estimate or accurately measure distance is a significant numeracy skill, so here are a couple of outdoor maths ideas for learning about measuring. Start by asking children to measure the length of an object outside using their steps, such as a stick, their bike or a garden shed. Then, pose the question of why using their feet may not be an accurate way of measuring distance. Using tape measures or trundle wheels, children can begin to estimate and measure lengths of objects outside. For older kids, they may also use this information to calculate the area of outdoor places, such as a school football pitch or a picnic table.

5. Shapes: Outdoor Maths Ideas

Develop shape knowledge with this engaging shape-spotting game; head outside to identify the different shapes in the garden or school playground and see how many you can find! From windows and doors to leaves and flowers, children can draw or photograph different shapes they see, then collate this information to produce a shape poster. For older children, this can also be an opportunity to consider the different angles they see within the shapes, such as obtuse, acute and right angles. Additionally, if you are heading to the beach this summer or have a sandpit, children may enjoy simple outdoor maths activities, such as drawing shapes in the sand or spotting differently shaped shells and pebbles at the beach. Sticks also make a great free maths resource to build different shapes.

6. Patterning: Outdoor Maths Activities and Math Games for Kids

Unite numeracy, art and the outdoors to take maths outside and create beautiful patterns. Collect twigs, leaves, flowers and pebbles to create outdoor collages. Children can consider how the shapes, colours and measurements of the items they find impact the symmetry of their pattern. Designs can be as big or small as each child chooses and can also be stuck down onto paper to create a keepsake. Rainbow pebbles can be a perfect resource to accompany this ourdoor maths activity. You can create many imaginative math games for kids based on sorting and patterning.

7. Data: Outdoor Maths Ideas and a Free Tally Chart

Venturing outdoors is an ideal way to expand data collection skills. Under the supervision of an adult for safety, children can collect different objects such as leaves, stones, pebbles, wildflowers and acorns. They can classify and sort their collections into groups based on differences. Using this information, children can fill in a tally chart. You can download this free tally chart on WordUnited’s free resource hub. Later, children can use this data to create a pictogram or bar chart, integrating a variety of mathematical skills and beneficial for outdoor maths KS2. A tally chart, such as WordUnited Tally Chart, can support many ideas to create cool math games for kids outdoors.

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