Maths Outdoors

If you want more than a run around maths game using PE equipment, then this is the page for you. There is magic in maths which comes alive outside. Children appreciate the opportunity to work in groups, experiment and investigate with bigger materials. A pleasant change from jotter and textbook activities.

Outdoor Maths in Primary and EY

This is a Facebook Group set up in April 2017. Please join so you can share your ideas and learn from others’ experiences. Over 1000 people did so within a few hours of going live!

Messy Maths is Published

Juliet’s first early years book… all about maths outdoors. Read more about it here and feel free to ask questions directly.

Outdoor Maths books and packs

This is a list of books and lesson plans, etc.

The activities below have not been age/stage ranked as generally each one can be tweaked with a little imagination to suit most ages and stages. Enjoy browsing…

Symmetry investigations

Nature Symmetry Circles

Combining maths with art on a wet weather day to explore and create symmetrical patterns from nature

Investigating Symmetry Outdoors Using Photo Booth

Great for permanently capturing symmetrical objects with along one axis.

Outdoor Reflections

Where symmetry begins

Reflections into Symmetry

Moving onto to play based experiences in the outdoor space or school grounds

Make a Kite

It’s all about symmetry, not of pattern but of balance!

Kaleidoscope Images and Symmetry

Exploring the mathematical art of kaleidoscopic symmetry

Stick insect symmetry

Stick insects – made from sticks. Simple and absorbing challenge for children that can be easily differentiated.

Shape explorations

An Outdoor Shape Activity with Sticks

Developing the language of shape!

Stick Logic

Creating triangles from sticks

Creating 3D Shapes from Sticks

And making dens in the process!

The Mathematics of Festive Crafts

An ‘crafty’ way of revising key maths concepts during the festive season

Must a triangle always have straight sides?

A geometric investigation sparked by flower beds

Masking Tape Shape Explorations

An nature-art approach to learning about and exploring the properties of 2D shapes. Suitable for all ages.

Give your old tarp a maths makeover

Brilliantly simple approach to exploring properties of 2D shapes especially if you have an old tarp that could be re-used. Suitable for all ages.

Angles outside

Investigating right angles with sticks

A super simple activity. Try it and see!

Right angles

Taking a new angle on an old subject

Angles and Numerals

A stick challenge linking numbers to angles, particularly right, acute and obtuse angles

Angles in Nature

An interesting investigation in to angles outside

Playground markings

Open-ended Playground Markings

Explore shape, position and movement in different ways through designer playground markings

Original Playground Markings

Some innovative examples of mathematical design from staff and children at one primary school.

Pattern work

Leaf Logic

A little thinking around the attributes of leaves

Scale and Geometric Patterns with Sticks

Infinite possibilities for recurrent patterns

White Line Pebble Maths

The brilliant dance of potential when nature is used to explore maths and art concepts. Just sit down and play!

Fractals in Nature

Some simple ideas to get you and your children investigating this concept

Fractal Dragons

Build your own from sticks

The Macquarie Playground Spiral

An interesting mathematical feature within a public playground

Rainy Day Rubbings

Exploring pattern outside on very wet days

The Fibonacci Sequence and Nature

A wee cross-curricular outdoor maths project

An Outdoor Memory Game

A good way to introduce or revise the concept of pairs

Nature pyramid patterns

Same or different? A pattern-based exploration of probability

Number activities

Celebrating 100 Days at School

10 outdoor maths activities which focus on the number 100.

20 Something Maths Pictures

Using natural materials to practise cooperatively counting 20 objects

Leaf Multiplication

Learn tables naturally with leaves

Algebraic Equations

Some thinking around using objects to represent numerical values

Number Bonds with Sticks

Lets get the mental maths going with stick tapping fun!

Multiplication Pebbles

A collection of stones to help children learn their times tables.

The Black Spot – Pirate Maths Outdoors

Shiver me timbers! A landlubbing activity looking at sycamore leaves for work on numbers

Maths war with syringes

What combination of syringes would work best to win a water fight?

Using Sticks to Understand Fractions

Making a fraction wall from sticks

Fractions, Decimals and Percentages Outdoor Activities

Using sticks again to challenge thinking

Leaf Fraction Walls

How to use leaves to help children learn about fractions

The stripy stick subitising challenge

Developing subitising skills and conservation of number through white stripy sticks!

The joy of a pocket-sized cotton ten frame

How a little foldable cloth ten frame can aid outdoor investigations within and beyond number work.

Measurement

Time Outside

Outdoor activities to help develop a concept of time

An Outdoor Clock

A simple clock to tell the time outside

Measuring the Size of Sticks

Incredibly simple activity for young children

Measuring Sticks

One big stick for measuring everything and anything!

Making Maths Sticks

Opportunity from coppiced wood to grow my collection of sticks

Stick Stacking Maths Challenge

Problem solving, teamwork and creative ways of measuring the height of stacked sticks

Outdoor Measuring Continues

The sequel to the stick stacking maths challenge – see what the class did next!

The Magic of 1-Metre Rope Snakes

Introducing Sammy the Snake to help your children learn about measurement, fractions, forming numerals and many other aspects of maths. So simple, so yummy…

Money

Does Money Grow on Trees?

Looking at traditions around money and trees

Embedding money outdoors

Time to pave your slabs with gold

Data handling activities

Kids Measure in Miserable Weather

Margins of error in measuring whilst looking at the mean, median and mode

Information or data handling activities outdoors

In a rather dull outdoor space it’s amazing what can be achieved!

Daisy Footprints

How many daisies do you squash with every step you take?

Maths investigations from Tyntesfield Primary School

A range of challenges for all ages that involve different elements of data handling.

Interesting open-ended maths investigations

Rainbow Maths Sticks

Brilliantly simple concept! Perfect for learning about patterns, relationships and mathematical rules.

Loom Band Maths Sticks

Extend the rainbow maths sticks concept using loom bands on twigs. A bit quicker than weaving!

Amazing Mazes

Give children a challenge and see where they take it.

Labyrinths, Spirals and Ropes

Creating labyrinths from rope and chalk

Dara – An outdoor African maths game

Good for strategy, problem-solving and pattern work using natural materials

A Leafy Tower of Hanoi

A puzzle for all ages

A Maths Stick Picture Game

An open-ended picture play game with sticks. Suitable for all ages and a good activity for debate, discussion and thinking

Nature Mastermind

Time to revisit the classic 70’s board game – with an outdoor twist.

A Number Pebble Game

Infinite possibilities for learning about patterns, rules, attributes and number recognition

A magical maths moment

When a play-based activity turns into a mathematical game. Lovely guest post from Niki Willows.

Topic related maths – maths in context

15 Minibeast Outdoor Maths Challenges

Lots of beastly maths ideas for different ages and stages…

10 Maths Challenges that use Cones

A free and found natural resource with plenty of maths potential

Juliet runs outdoor maths courses and workshops for pre-school and primary practitioners and teachers

Here’s some examples of activities which have been covered:

Messy Maths Outdoors

Extending play-based learning through primary school

TeachMeet Beyond and the Outdoor Numeracy Notes

Suggestions for activities from the participants at this outdoor TeachMeet

100 Maths Sessions Outside

Any teacher can teach outside! Andrea Stevenson talks about her experiences of getting out there and teaching maths to all ages outdoors with no prior experience.

Crianlarich Primary – Maths Trailblazers

How to kick start an outdoor maths project with the help of parents and visiting teachers.

Finally, enjoy this YouTube clip, kindly filmed by Grounds for Learning, the Scottish school grounds charity:


The most recent Maths Outdoors blog posts are below

The Joy of a Pocket-sized Cotton Ten Frame

21 October 2017
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The ultimate go-anywhere ten frame resource

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Crianlarich Primary – Maths Trailblazers

15 October 2017
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3 hours of maths fun in the rain

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Nature Pyramid Patterns

15 September 2017
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Same or different? Rules rule!

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15+ Outdoor Maths Books, Packs and Downloads

7 September 2017
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Check out the list 🙂

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Get Real. Get Messy. Get Maths. Get Outdoors.

14 August 2017
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Outdoor Classroom Day is approaching…

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Messy Maths is Published

16 July 2017
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Slam dunk! High Fives!

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Outdoor Maths on Facebook

17 April 2017
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Join the conversation!

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Give your old tarp a mathematical makeover

21 January 2017
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Best resource of 2016

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Masking Tape Shape Explorations

15 October 2016
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An arty approach to investigating shape

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100 Maths Sessions Outside

6 July 2016
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Well done Andrea!

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10 Maths Challenges that use Cones

12 May 2016
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What would you do with a cone?

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15 Minibeast Outdoor Maths Challenges

5 May 2016
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Lots of beastly ideas for different ages

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Stick Insect Symmetry

1 May 2016
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Maths-made insects based on word play.

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A Magical Maths Moment

1 March 2016
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How one thing led to another

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Must a triangle always have straight sides?

31 January 2016
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A geometric investigation

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Leaf Fraction Walls

20 January 2016
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Take an idea and adapt it.

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Introducing Sammy the 1-metre Rope Snake

12 January 2016
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Every educator’s mathematical friend

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Maths War with Syringes

17 September 2015
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Ideal for calculating who will win a water fight

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Wet Weather Nature Symmetry Circles

24 August 2015
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Today has been a wet, rainy day. It was perfect for creating nature circles – or mandalas – depending upon how you choose to introduce and contextualise the activity. For me, I am interested in the mathematical element of this work. I’ve blogged about symmetry several times using reflections as an introduction in the early […]

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Loom Band Maths Sticks

21 July 2015
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As usual I am blogging way behind the times! Loom bands were last year’s craze. I have sat with a packet in my drawer meaning to have some fun and somehow time has moved on. Regardless, I still feel this is worth blogging about.

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Multiplication Pebbles

14 June 2015
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Multiplication pebbles are a very simple resource. I have put 10 pebbles in one bag to represent the 3 times table. As illustrated above, each pebbles has the number 3 painted on it with acrylic deco pens. Each pebble is a different colour.

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Embedding Money Outdoors

23 March 2015
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One of my favourite fairy tales as a child was Dick Whittington. I was always fascinated by the idea of streets being paved with gold. Whilst in Adelaide, I discovered a similar concept. On the ground outside a cafe on Rundle Street, lots of coins had been embedded into the ground.

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The Macquarie Play Spiral

6 March 2015
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At the Macquarie Lake Variety Playground, there is a performance space which is intriguingly mathematical. From a distance, it just looks like a wavy wall – cute in a wall-ish, playful sort of way. After all, walking along a wall is a popular activity and this wavy-curvy wall is suitably low enough to entice little […]

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White Line Pebble Maths

12 July 2014
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It’s hard not to be inspired by pebbles. You pick them up, you look at them and they speak silently to you in ways that words can’t describe. They are inexplicably powerful. Sometimes one ends up in your pocket. Other times they get dropped and moved around by our actions as well as that of […]

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A Number Pebble Game

13 May 2014
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Recently I was browsing Childhood 101’s blog and stumbled across this post about using Uno to play an attribute game. It reminded me of several summers of serious card playing where my sisters and I played a lot of “Black Jack” which is similar to Uno but uses a regular pack of playing cards.  Naturally […]

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Kaleidoscope Images and Symmetry

22 April 2014
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The kaleidoscope feature of Photo Booth on an iPad remains one of the funkiest ways of looking through the lens I know. It is a useful addition to any light and colour project because what one sees can be photographed. It can capture images for later use. Ordinary kaleidoscopes do not have this ability.

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Rainbow Maths Sticks

8 April 2014
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The mathematical potential of a stick never ceases to amaze me. Here’s my latest idea which is remarkably simple and came about owing to overhearing someone mention colour coding. You get some sticks. You paint the ends different colours. You play with them. You explore the potential for maths. That’s it. Experiment! Now if you […]

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An Outdoor Memory Game

25 February 2014
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At the International Skogsmulle Symposium in Japan last year there was an afternoon of playing games and undertaking practical activities such as making things with bamboo. This very simple memory game was featured and this is how it is played…

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Celebrating 100 Days at School

4 February 2014
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How many days has it been since your class returned to school last August or September? You may need to do some counting on a calendar. For schools in Aberdeen City this is Friday 7th February.   Naturally this is a lovely opportunity to celebrate all things 100 and of course going outside as part […]

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Nature Mastermind

7 January 2014
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A great variation on the Seventies classic strategy game

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The Mathematics of Festive Crafts

14 December 2013
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Recap the term’s work!

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Leaf Multiplication

5 October 2013
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Learn your tables with leaves

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Using Leaves for Learning – 10 Ideas

20 September 2013
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A collection worth looking at

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Daisy Footprints – Maths Outdoors

10 July 2013
Daisy Footprints

Daisies are tough little flowers and the fun of footprints and daisies makes this a summer activity not to be missed!

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20 Something Maths Pictures

28 May 2013
Dandelion Disks

The whole point of maths outside is that it is real and relies on practical activities.

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Investigating Symmetry Outdoors Using Photo Booth

24 May 2013
Symmetry and Reflections

Following up on challenges and activities to further develop children’s core skills.

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Make a Kite by Re-using Plastic Bags, Etc.

4 May 2013
Making a Kite

Making a kite from waste materials – science, design and maths in action.

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A Maths Stick Picture Game

30 April 2013
Sticks

Sticks, children and maths outdoors are the perfect combination for learning!

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