Maths Outdoors

A comprehensive collection of 70+ outdoor maths ideas, activities and suggestions. They are open-ended and many work well with a range of ages and abilities. Most just rely on a few free and found resources. Check them out!

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.

2D shape art with leaves

A creative blend of art, maths and science using the colour and shape of leaves as a starting point

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.

Stick Pic Problems

The brilliance of sticks cut to specific lengths for creating interesting addition-based problem-solving pictures. Wowser!


Time Outside

Outdoor activities to help develop a concept of time

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…


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

A Pocket Outdoor Maths Kit

Mini maths resources which fit into my pocket for spontaneous maths moments

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

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

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Rainy Day Rubbings – Exploring Pattern Outside

23 April 2013
Plant Rubbings

When investigating patterns outside, there are many ways of doing this. On rainy days it could be…..

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Does Money Grow on Trees?

23 March 2013

If this arises as a topic of conversation, little children may wish to see if they can find ways of making a money tree.

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Stick Logic

26 January 2013
Stick Logic

Maths and sticks are the perfect combination for Maths Outdoors!

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Algebraic Equations

6 January 2013
Algebraic Equations

The idea of objects representing numbers is not new and works well for reinforcing basic numeracy skills.

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Art, Design, Maths and Playground Markings

20 November 2012
Formula for Living Bloor

Playground markings that aren’t your average hopscotch or alphabet snake.

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Outdoor Maths: Angles and Numerals

7 November 2012
Angles Maths Outdoors

Sticks + Angles = Wood + Maths Outdoors

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The Black Spot – Pirate Maths Outdoors

30 October 2012
The Black Spot

Leaves and maths outdoors for all ye landlubbers…arrr!

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Outdoor Maths: Right Angles

2 August 2012
Right Angles

Exploring 2D shapes and right angles outdoors.

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Dara – An Outdoor African Maths Game

15 July 2012

How to play the Nigerian maths game, Dara.

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Outdoor Measuring Continues

4 July 2012
Outdoor Measuring

One metre length sticks are great for measuring outdoors.

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Stick stacking maths challenge

26 May 2012
Maths Sticks

Long live sticks! They make maths fanta-stick!

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Fractions, Decimals and Percentages Outdoor Activities

12 May 2012
Fractions Sticks

Sticks are stonking for working out fractions.

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Information or Data Handling Activities Outdoors

30 April 2012
Carroll Diagram

After a hard day’s teaching 15 participants learn more maths outdoors.

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Outdoor Maths: Creating 3D Shapes from Sticks

21 March 2012
Big Stick Net

Sticks are making maths ever-more interesting outside.

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Outdoor Maths: Fractals in Nature

12 February 2012

Fractals in nature, patterns with sticks…it’s all part of maths outdoors.

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How to Make a Fractal Dragon with Sticks

4 February 2012
Fractal Dragon

Now that the Chinese New Year has arrived, 2012 is officially the Year of the Dragon.

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Making Maths Sticks

9 November 2011
Making Maths Sticks

Coppicing provides perfect sticks for maths outdoors.

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Measuring Sticks

20 October 2011
Measuring Sticks

The real objects we treasure have a personal value.

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Outdoor Maths: Measuring the Size of Sticks

3 September 2011
Measuring Sticks Maths

A simple activity for learning about measuring using…sticks!

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Outdoor Maths: Looking at different angles in nature

7 July 2011
Angle Sticks

A super lesson about angles.

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Kids Measure in Miserable Weather

29 June 2011
Measuring in bad weather

Doing the whole lesson outside in challenging weather.

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Original Playground Markings

23 June 2011
Playground Markings

Almost every Scottish school likes to have a few playground markings adorning their acres of tarmac.

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Operation Bearings: Top Secret

18 June 2011
Operation Bearings

WWII spy training!

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Outdoor Maths: Using sticks to understand fractions

11 June 2011
Fraction Sticks

A very simple outdoor challenge for children to try.

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TeachMeet Beyond and the Outdoor Numeracy Notes!

30 May 2011

An opportunity to meet other teachers and compare outdoor learning activities.

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Outdoor Maths: investigating right angles with sticks

22 May 2011
Right Angles with Sticks

The concept of a right angle can often stump children.

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An outdoor shape activity with sticks

19 May 2011
Outdoor Shapes with Sticks

The sticks are getting a serious amount of use at the moment.

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Number Bonds with Sticks

6 May 2011
Number Bonds with Sticks

Sticks are an essential resource for many outdoor activities.

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Scale and Geometric Patterns with Sticks

3 May 2011
Pattern Sticks

I do believe every school needs sticks!

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From Reflections into Symmetry Outdoors

24 April 2011
Reflections into Symmetry

Various reflective surfaces can be created or found.

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Outdoor Reflections

13 April 2011
The Bean

Have fun with symmetry, reflections and patterns.

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More Messy Maths and Other Ideas

1 April 2011
The Star

Workshops at the Grounds for Learning National Networking Conference.

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Messy Maths Outdoors

19 March 2011
Messy Maths Outdoors

Making learning maths outdoors fun!

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A Leafy Tower of Hanoi

4 November 2010
Tower of Hanoi

Traditionally completed on rods with wooden discs, this one’s with leaves!

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Leaf Logic

8 October 2010
Leaf Logic

Logic, thinking and strategy activity for outdoor learning with leaves.

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11 June 2010

Stones are a great outdoor learning resource.

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The Fibonacci Sequence and Nature

6 May 2010
The Star

Introducing Fibonacci to young children.

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