There is a joy in getting out of the classroom and getting students moving.  Outdoor Maths gives us a huge variety of ways to explore Maths in a less confined space.  The first and most obvious way of doing outdoor maths is to take classroom activities outside:

1. Maths Trails  Around the School

These can be enriched by relating the trails to the Maths within outside objects.

2. Physical Games Outside

Another very simple way of to get student outside is to create physical maths games using playground resources:

  • Number Lines  – it is great if you can use 1,2,3,4,5… and 10, 20,30,40 … number lines to make games around number work, estimation and most calculation subjects.  The use of a large white board or big question cards enable enjoyable games to be created.
  • Compasses can be used to introduce games such as Run to the Bearing or degree games

  • Algebra tables and a set of dice can make great running to the spot games
2a ab a(1+b) a2
a b2 3a2 a(2a – b) b2
  • Putting numbers on students backs and playing chase games can be a way to do mental arithmetic.  This can be further refined by using  a  netball and two teams.
  • Numbered cones can be used in different types of bowling Maths

  • Getting students to use their bodies to form different geometric shapes

3. Using Outdoor Equipment

One resource I like to use is giant Meccano which enables a large range of objects to be constructed outside.  This allows exploration of shape, functional calculations, measurement and much more.

Sand pits can be used to make 3D models to explore scale.  The sand will need some water adding to it to allow it to be modelled.

4. Forest School

The forest school environment creates a whole area of maths exploration.  Here the natural aspects of the environment often drive the maths.

Creative learning do a lot of geometric exploration with sticks which can be really great fun.

Another area is the exploration of patterns within nature. These can be described in Carroll diagrams or series to investigate their mathematical properties.

Alternatively you can explore circumference and diameters of circles through measuring trees:

Using natural objects to represent values can be an interesting way to explore number calculations e.g. A leaf can be 1, an acorn 10 and pine cones 100

In the later years forest school Maths can be a bit more adventurous and include subjects such as:

  • There are many map adventure lessons that can be developed.  These range from making maps of woodland areas to navigating a woodland using bearings and maps.

  • Measuring the effectiveness of primitive throwing weapons like spears vs atlatl.  This involves measuring and graph plotting

  • Create equations for fire and use these to build the fire which will last the longest.  Fire Intensity = function( fuel, oxygen) .  Discuss the variables wind, wetness and packing density

  • Make natural fire lighters out of wax, leaf and dried grass.  Find the best ratio mix.
  • Determine the most efficient kettle –  4 different kettles then measure and plot results

  • Find the bending moment of wood.  Make a stand which holds a 100cm length of wood at both ends.  Then suspend weights and measure how far the wood will bend. Present the results graphically and discuss how this can be used to inform shelter building.  This can then be used to select woods to build a “bender”  shelter.

  • Create a scale model of a structure and use it to determine the amount of wood required to build a full scale dwelling.  The best model can then be developed by the class.
  • Build and cost bridges.  This can be used to look at geometry and functional skills.

  • Make a functional weight scale.  Make fixed 1 kg weight logs.  Then  measure different objects.

2 thoughts on “Outdoor-MATHS

  1. My husband saw your post on the CAS forum. Thank you some inspirational ideas that have come at a perfect time as we begin to structure the new curriculum in our school. We will certainly be using some of your ideas.

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