Fun Outdoor Math Activities

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Kids hate being stuck indoors on a hot summer day, but there are plenty of ways they can learn math outdoors while enjoying the weather. Teachers and parents can sneakily turn fun outdoor activities into a math lesson, getting kids to learn and keep fit at the same time.


For this activity, you will need a large blue tarpaulin, tablecloth or dyed sheet. Cut out some "lily pads" from green cardboard or fabric. Spread the tarpaulin outside on a grassy area. Scatter the lily pads around the blue "pond" and secure them with fabric glue or safety pins. Either cut out and stick large sequential numbers, starting from one, onto the lily pads, or write them on with a marker. Decorate the rest of the pond with toy frogs and ducks. The game ideally needs two or more preschool participants. Shout a number to whoever is "it." Children have to jump to the number and shout it out themselves. Have them leapfrog over each other to get to their number. This activity helps with number recognition.

Hole-in-the-Bucket Relay Race

Teach children about measuring liquids with this frantic race game that will have them screaming and laughing as they learn. You will need a lot of players for this game and they will need to be wearing summer swimwear. Punch five or more holes in the bottom of large, empty coffee containers with a hammer and nail. Fill a clean, plastic garbage container with water and place 5-gallon plastic containers equidistant from the central garbage bin. You will need a 5-gallon pail and coffee can for each of the teams, which should be equally divided. Ask the children to guess how many trips they will need to fill their pail. Now tell them to race to fill their pail with water from the large central container with their coffee can. They should take turns, passing the can to the next runner, who then empties the can into a smaller pail before their run. The fastest team wins a prize.

Flashcard Toss

This is a simple game that can entertain and educate a lone child or can be a timed competitive game between two or more children. Cut up some cardboard into squares and write an appropriately difficult math puzzle on each with a marker. These are your flashcards. Outside, throw the flashcards either over a fence, for example, or if there are some steps nearby, from the top of the steps. The point is, do something to make the cards harder for the kids to fetch. The children take turns to race and pick up the card, solve the puzzle and run back as fast as they can. Time them with a stopwatch.

Math Racers

Place a pile of small balls, conkers or pine cones at the end of your garden or outside in park. Line up children about 30 feet away and give each of them a bag with a handle. Shout out math problems; the difficulty will depend on their age and ability. They then race to collect a number of balls in their bag that represent the solution to the math problem, emptying them when they return. Enlist a helper to replace used balls so they don't run out too soon. You should check that the children bring back the correct number of balls each time and, after the game, run through the right answers.

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