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Exploring Math in the Great Outdoors

June 5th, 2018 | 3 min. read

By Gryphon House

Time for outdoor summer fun! Now that rainy spring and cold winter are behind us, parents and children can enjoy some time outside in the sun. But the beginning of summer doesn’t mean the end of learning; there are tons of ways to encourage your child’s exploration over the summer. From science to social skills, the outdoors is a fantastic place to learn!

Math is especially connected to the great outdoors. With the right encouragement, your little learner can look for patternspractice counting, and come to understand number sense all while they play outside. Kathy Charner, Mary Rein, and Brittany Roberts explore just that in their book Let’s Take it Outside! Teacher-Created Activities for Outdoor Learning. These fun activities bring the classroom outside, encouraging children to have fun and stay active while they learn. Here are a few outdoor math activities you can do with your child this summer.

Sidewalk Number Line

Learning Objective

To learn to recognize numerals on a number line. 


  • Chalk
  • Sidewalk or other paved area

What to Do

  1. As the children watch, write the numerals from 1 to 10 on the sidewalk. Put one numeral in each sidewalk square. If the squares aren’t uniform, divide the sidewalk evenly with a chalk line (if no pavement is available, use cones or chairs with signs)
  2. Demonstrate moving on the number line. Stand on the numeral 4, for example, then move two forward and end up on the numeral  6.
  3. Ask a child to stand on that numeral. Then ask him “Where are you?” This child and the other children will answer, “Six!”
  4. Give various directions, such as “Take four steps backward.”
  5. All the children count with the child on the number line as he walks or jumps four steps backward. Ask him, “Where are you?” The child and the other children will answer “Two!”
  6. Give the child another direction such as, “Take three steps forward. Where are you?” Continue with another child
  7. Sing this song to the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”

Oh, I am on the number line, the number line, the number line.

Oh, I am on the number line, moving up and down.

I like to count on the number line, the number line, the number line.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

Water Bag Toss

Learning Objective

To practice recognizing numerals from 1 to 9



  • Fill the plastic bags with water and seal them. Make extra bags in case some break
  • Arrange the hula-hoops into three groups of three hoops each
  • Tape the numeral card to the outside edges of the hoops, one card on each hoop. Start with 1, 2, and 3 on the first set of hoops. Tape 4, 5, and 6 to the next et; and tape 7, 8, and 9 on the third set of hoops.

Tip: The numeral cards will get wet and dirty. If possible, laminate the cards or place them in zipper-seal bags before the activity begins.

What to Do

  1. Divide the children into three groups. Line up each group a few feet from one of the sets of three hoops.
  2. Have the children toss water bags into the hoops. Give the first child in each line an appropriate number of water bags for the set of hoops in front of him. Ask the child to toss into the hoop the number of bags that matches the numeral taped onto one of the hoops. For example, for the hoop with the numeral 2 on it, a child would toss in two water bags. For the hoop with the numeral 8 on it, the child would toss eight water bags.
  3. Continue until every child in each group has had a turn to toss in water bags
  4. Rotate the groups of children to the next set of hoops and continue until every child has counted all of the numerals 1-9

Hoppity Shapes

Learning Objectives 

To identify common geometric shapes by name and by sight; to follow directions; to follow simple rules and to take turns


  • Chalk
  • Playground
  • Sidewalk, driveway, or other paved area


  1. Draw some large shapes with chalk, making them close together on the sidewalk. Some common shapes to begin with are circle, square, triangle, and star
  2. Write the name of the shape inside each shape

What to Do

  1. Ask several children, no more than five, to stand in front of a shape. Encourage the children to hop around to any other shape they wish.
  2. After they have done this for a while, ask all of the children to hop to one particular shape. For example, say “Hop to the square!” Do this for each shape you have drawn.
  3. To increase the challenge, say “Hop to any shape except the triangle!” or “Hop to all the shapes but not the square.”
  4. Vary the game by saying, “If you are wearing something red, hop to the diamond. If you are wearing something yellow, hop to the oval.”
  5. Next, say “Everyone find a shape to rest on.” Allow the children time to rest.