Outdoor Maths Activities


With the summer break now upon us, you may be able to catch a bit more time with the kids. The recent sunny weather probably means you will be spending a lot of this time outside. In doing so, you might be thinking about how you can incorporate outdoor maths activities.

Whether it’s Alton Towers or a local park, it’s a good idea to think about how you can incorporate fun maths games into your plans. We spoke about the reasons why you should consider outdoor maths activities a few weeks ago, highlighting that doing so helps to keep your child motivated.

The below outdoor maths activities will help you keep their brain in gear whilst still having fun (providing a useful alternative to those traditional maths worksheets).

#1 Maths Games

For a start, dusting off that old piece of chalk from the cupboard might come in handy. Yes, using chalk may sound old fashioned, but it’s an irreplaceable bit of kit when it comes to outdoor maths activities.

It provides your child with the ability to explore maths in a more visual sense. Though blank walls and tarmac are usually fine, be certain to check you can draw wherever you choose before going ahead!

Depending on the age of your child, you could start with something as simple as drawing numbers. If your child is slightly older, you could progress to drawing 2D shapes. Enlarging the shapes outdoors really helps children to remember key properties. For example, the number of sides and angles each shape has will be clearly on display through this activity, helping to cement key facts.

Progressing further, you might want to ask your child to draw shapes of a certain size. You can really go wild here depending on how much space you have. You could ask them to draw the largest shape possible in the space you have. Asking them to then measure each side of this shape may keep them entertained for more time than you realise!

If your child is already comfortable with measuring the sides of shapes, they will probably be able to work out the perimeter. Attempting to calculate the area in centimetres or metres will provide an additional level of challenge during this outdoor maths activity.

#2 Angle Spotting

Asking your child to identify different types of angles is another outdoor learning activity that can be carried out with little planning. You might know that angles are all around us, but including your child in their identification will help them to appreciate their importance.

The following angles are ones you and your child might be able to identify:

Tally chart for outdoor maths activities

Indeed, many of the sites that you may be planning on visiting during the summer break will have angles at their core. Any building or structure relies on the appropriate combination of angles to keep standing. You may not have a giant protractor, but you won’t need one to identify most of the above angles.

If you have the time, you might want to print out an image of a structure you come across over the break and stick it up somewhere around the house. Ask your child to label all the acute, obtuse or reflex angles. This will help them to remember the broad shape of different angles and bring maths to life. You could start with the famous Clifton Suspension bridge below:

Bridge for outdoor maths activities

#3 Surveys

Carrying out surveys in the community is the sort of thing classroom teachers would be doing more of if they had more capacity working within the curriculum. It’s an outdoor maths activity that can be easily organised. Fortunately, in the holidays, you might have the time to help your child conduct one themselves.

Choose a topic (different types of transport, food tastes, current events – you could cover almost anything within reason) and get talking to the community.

If your child captures all their data in a tally chart first, you could then ask them to draw a bar or pie chart to further represent what they have discovered. Presenting data they have gathered themselves will be much more fun than using information from textbooks! Here is an example of what your child could produce:

Tally for outdoor maths activities

#4 Making Shapes

Set your child the challenge of making as many 2D shapes as possible using only their bodies.

This outdoor maths activity will be good fun for a period of time before they realise it is actually quite difficult to form a lot of 2D shapes using only their bodies. You could try making 2D shapes with a group of your children’s friends – great fun, but the challenge will still persist.

For those shapes that require unhuman levels of flexibility, you could bring out the string instead. Doing so will enable your child to construct shapes with more accuracy.

A large loop of string will allow them to make a variety of shapes simultaneously.

Going through this process will reinforce the properties of shapes once more. Plus, what a wonderful way to spend your summer evening!

#5 Quick-Fire Maths Challenges

Rather than designing elaborate maths games, you can help your child engage with maths by asking quick fire questions throughout the break. Posing questions when they least expect it can actually help to nudge key facts into your child’s long term memory, as outlined in our blog on the summer slide. 

Here are some fun maths challenges you could try out:

  • Use questions based on times tables e.g. 5 x 5, before progressing onto more demanding calculations beyond the 12 times table.
  • Ask your child to calculate how much change you will get when at the shops. This blog on how to help your child learn about money could help here.
  • Similarly, this blog focusing on how you can incorporate maths when walking outdoors will also help with ideas.
  • Use time to stimulate your child’s brain. For example, if the time is currently 10:37, calculating what time it will be in 9 hours and 17 minutes is something even most adults would find difficult!

We hope this ensures you have all the outdoor maths activities you need this summer.

Next week we will be talking about how you can make the most of your child’s screen time. If you’d like to find out more in the interim, sign up to our newsletter or book our sessions, starting in the Autumn term. You’ll gain access to fun and free resources to keep your child engaged at home.

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