The sunshine is here and kids are anxious to get outside, so why not take advantage of this and do some outdoor math activities and other lessons? Many different subjects can be done outside the classroom walls if you add in some creativity and movement. Here are 5 fun ideas for teaching math and social studies outdoors.
Taking Measurement Outdoors
Many classes study measurement in the spring. A culminating activity for this could be an outdoor event where teams practice linear measurement. Here is a resource that might help.
Outdoor Measurement Games Team Events
Working With Time And Racing
If you teach time in the spring, perhaps you could go one step further and introduce stopwatches. Timing different events can be fun and many different devices actually have stopwatches on them now.
You could have a fun day with different activities that need timing, such as running, filling different containers, wheelbarrow races, etc. You could also set a time to beat and have the kids do activities that have to beat the time. For older children, comparing times, looking at the data and maybe even figuring out elapsed time could also be included.
Because the kids are having fun and moving around, they won't realize that they are studying time, but they will be applying skills to real world situations.
Taking Mapping Skills Outdoors
Reading maps and understanding them is still an important skill in today's digital age. Many people rely on the maps feature in their vehicle or on their phone to get them from point A to point B, but they don't have a clear understanding of how to read maps on their own. Learning how to use mapping skills like directions and grids helps when using maps at places that don't have a digital option. For example, when you go to certain amusement parks, zoos, or other events that have activities and events spread out around the grounds, being able to follow a map is important. Just think of all the maps in malls, at parks, or even at visitor centers that have "You Are Here" indicated on them. Can you follow directions from there to get to where you want to go?
Teaching kids how to use these skills in practical settings requires practice. Here is a chance to get outside and actually try to use them to find things, locate different areas, and be able to help others to find them too. Creating maps of the neighborhood or school grounds can also work as practice using grids, directions, and even symbols and legends. Here is a resource that may help.
Mapping Skills Using Grids
Using Grids And Working With Scale
Understanding how scale works is an important skill when interpreting maps, blueprints, house plans, and other documents. A great way to practice doing this is using grid paper and measuring the perimeter or area of an object and then drawing it on the paper. It is important to indicate what the size of each square is so that the measurements match what is drawn on the paper. You could choose the school yard, playground, surrounding neighborhood or any other area or object for your topic.
Here is a resource that may help with understanding perimeter and area along with some activities to practice using both.
Perimeter And Area
Solving Math Word Problems
Word problems can be especially challenging for some kids, so taking them outdoors and actually doing some hands on work with them might help. I remember creating puzzles when I was geocaching that required people to solve math questions using objects in the park in order to find the coordinates. Something similar could be done in the school yard. For example, check out and find all the trash containers, swings, trees, signs, basketball hoops, hopscotch or foursquare marking, etc. Using these objects around the school yard, create math word problems that must be solved. You could work in pairs, individually, or even in teams to solve them.
The Sky's The Limit
These are only a few of the different activities that can be done outdoors to work on math and social studies skills. Depending on what you are studying and how creative you are, there are many others that can be done as well.
So get outside, have fun, and keep the learning going.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.