The great outdoors can provide exciting and real maths learning opportunities. It’s a way to connect children with nature and at the same time children can explore shapes and properties of real items by engaging in planned activities.
Through manipulating natural resources, children can explore mathematical thinking as well as problem solving and sustained shared thinking. Naturally found objects are ideal to enhance their learning experiences and complement the learning that children do in class.
Here are a few ideas of maths activities you can take outside in KS1:
1. Magic wands
Encourage children to find “the right stick” and add some natural items like leaves, feathers, or flowers to create nature wands. You can compare the sticks: Which wand is the longest? Which wand is shortest? You can also encourage children to measure the sticks using a measuring tape. Get all the wands together and compare them all.
2. Create shapes
Go on a loose part hunt and encourage children to find some stones, sticks, leaves and twigs to create their own2D shapes. You can decorate your shapes using more natural items. Who made the biggest triangle? How many sides does a hexagon need? Encourage children to do a non–standard unit measure of the perimeter, for example, a rectangle, which is four stones wide and six stones long. Look around, can you see shapes hidden in nature?
3. Nature shapes
First, cut out some shapes from cardboard and use elastic bands to wrap them around. Go on a nature hunt and encourage children to weave their little treasures onto the shapes. You could use this little shape as a ‘journey shape’ and encourage children to add something every time they get to a new spot on your journey.
4. Shape weaving/sorting and ordering
This activity could be turned into a bigger project. First, you will need long sticks to create a frame. Go on a leaf hunt to find all sorts of leaves. Next, you could take your project back to class and hole punch your finds. Encourage children to weave them into their frames. Ask them to sort the leaves by colour, shape, or size to enhance their learning further.
5. Nature mandala
Ask children to find as many loose parts as they can, like stones, flowers, conkers, pinecones, sticks, leaves etc. This could be a fun project for children to work together on, as a group. If you’re not familiar with mandalas, they are symmetrical, circular, geometric patterns and are a great way to learn about symmetry and patterns, starting with repeating a pattern and moving onto more complicated ones.
Looking for outdoor learning products that are built to last? Find out more about the Cosy Collection at YPO featuring over 400 high–quality and imaginative products. Visit: ypo.co.uk/cosy
If you enjoyed this blog and would like to read others like it, it features in our Everything Curriculum Magazine edition 10. Each edition is centralised around a chosen theme, you can subscribe to receive future magazines via email or access our previous editions here.