Yes, playing and enjoying the outdoors can help children to become interested in mathematics , so it can be a good alternative to the classroom to encourage children to approach a subject, sometimes complicated and that causes many negative feelings in big and small ones.




Taking mathematics out of the classroom can generate a new enthusiasm for this subject and remove that “stigma” of impossible subject that so many people have in mind when they think about it. And it is that, oddly enough, nature itself offers us different ways of practicing and studying mathematics without always having to resort to blackboards and school notes. In this way, not only is mathematics much more attractive and fun, but also that children learn necessary concepts without much difficulty, which is undoubtedly always positive.

But what mathematical ideas or concepts might children become familiar with outside of the usual classroom setting? Let’s see some examples:

  • Precious natural materials. Children need objects that they can feel, or with which they can move and do things, which is very helpful so that mathematical concepts are not simply abstract. For example, it may be the case that a child has trouble understanding what a right angle is if he has not seen it applied to real life, seen and felt. Some natural treasures, like sticks, stones or seeds, are easily manipulated materials that can be used very well for counting, measuring, comparing and much more.
  • Development of graphic and pictorial understanding. Being in the open air means that children can experience things in three dimensions and from all angles, which helps their facility for pictorial representation and spatial images necessary for geometry, good understanding of diagrams, graphics , etc.
  • Learning in symbol language . An understanding of the language and symbols of mathematics, including concepts such as more, less, larger, smaller, longer, shorter, etc., is something that can also be worked on outside the classroom. Climbing a tree and looking down, for example, could give children some understanding of scale, as well as be helpful in using mathematical language when communicating. (Martín is smaller than the tree, the plane is far, the bus is close…).

As we can see, learning mathematics in an outdoor environment also makes things much more real and relevant for children. Another very good idea can be to go to a sandbox and work out the quantities by filling more or less a series of toy cubes or taking out and putting certain quantities with a shovel.

Learning in the open air and the great benefits it has is something that is already well known, and that is why more and more schools, especially in nursery grades and first groups of primary school, are developing more activities in this regard and in a greater number of subjects. . With regard to mathematics, we can go outside to collect data and then do the calculation of the numbers inside the class, or start in the classroom looking at a right angle and then go out to identify some in the middle of nature … there are many! the posibilities!



How to work math outdoors at school

There are many activities that can be done during school hours outdoors, and also with the family after school hours, so that mathematics is more real and much more exciting for the little ones. Do you want to know some?

  • Work the measurements. Simply looking for some twigs or stones in the park, you can create an activity in which the children learn the sizes, the largest and smallest what … etc.




  • Recycling of flower pots. Each child can take a series of old house pots or buckets (of different shapes and sizes), and experiment with them, turning them upside down in the open air, the value, variety and breadth of sounds. Then you can ask questions like: do larger containers make a different sound?
  • How many steps are there. Have the little ones calculate the distances using big or small steps. Try setting challenges like: how many steps are there to the next streetlight? Then ask them to calculate and verify, and surely they feel like continuing to practice and improve.
  • Patterns and sequences with balls. A good activity for children is to join the dunks with the sport, for example, taking a ball to the park or the field and challenge the children to invent patterns and sequences in which they have to bounce, roll, throw … With a series of instructions, you can also establish the patterns and ensure that the children follow them properly.
  • Multiplication tables with steps . Practicing multiplication tables outdoors can be a lot of fun, and taking steps can be a very good choice to put into practice. If it’s the table of five, for example, have them count their steps in a whisper: (1 × 5) “one, two, three, four…” and then say, FIVE! aloud. And continue like this with each figure.
  • Three-dimensional pyramids. Find large sticks or use old broomsticks and string them together to create the frame of a den in different 3D shapes, or create cube, square and triangle shaped pyramids … These constructions are a lot of fun and can help you work on geometry and proportions with ease. If you want to add a plus … do it with costumes!
  • Explore and interpret a map. Create games in which you have to search for clues through a map, as this will help children learn to interpret them properly or to use a compass. A very interesting activity also to learn about movement, directions, angles or bearings.




  • Numbers and symmetry. Draw a line on the ground with chalk and place five objects that can be found in nature (a stone, a leaf, a pine cone, etc.) on one side of the line. Children will have to find five similar objects to place on the other side of the line (mirror effect), which can be an excellent lesson in symmetry.
  • Go shopping. Money matters, especially as we grow and we must understand what payment and exchange are, what you can buy with the money you have … etc. Asking children to sort or count coins, or creating markets in a yard where you have to buy and sell products with play money, can be very good activities for children to become familiar with numbers on a daily basis.
  • Catch the numbers. Any outdoor exit allows us to look for numbers and count: doors, street numbers, traffic signs… Try doing this counting activity with the children and ask questions such as, what is the largest number you have been able to find? And the smallest? You can also raise the idea of taking photos or drawings of the numbers located to record and order them in class.


Leave a Reply