Argh Math! The word still makes me cringe. I hated math at school.
If I could rescue my children from the torment of math class I would, but of course, they need to know it. It’s a life skill they’ll need for the remainder of their life, so there no way to get out of this one.
Surely there’s a way I can teach children math in a fun way – and I don’t mean just for them, but me too. I need some way of coping with the flashbacks if I’m going to teach them anything useful at all.
I had an idea though and usually ideas get me excited, as this little idea did.
Learning math in nature
- They say children learn better outside. Tick.
- Children learn better when they’re doing something tactile. Tick.
- Nature is fun (for both of us). Tick, tick, tick!
Nature Math Activities
Measuring with a Ruler
I brought out a ruler from the drawer and took it on our bush walk one day. Such a simple little grab ended up bringing a whole hour of learning and fun together. As soon as I put the ruler in her hand (and explained about centimeters and millimeters) she was off measuring everything in sight.
Trees were measured.
Leaves were measured.
Even rocks were measured!
She even tried to measure an ant (although I missed that photo opportunity), bummer!
After letting her get used to the instrument and giving her plenty of time to play with it, we sat down with a little more structured activity. We collected sticks and leaves and by measuring them we sorted them longest to shortest. She was really focused in this activity too.
Measuring with Kitchen Scales
On the next bush walk, I took the cooking scales out with us and off we went again but this time we measured the weight of nature objects and compared them. I was totally getting into it too- who’d have thought!
Measuring with Measuring Tape
Next, I grabbed the measuring tape from my sewing box and she learnt the basics of circumference.
Don’t have a measuring tape, but have a few children on hand? Measure the circumference of the tree using children instead.
I surprised myself how much fun learning in nature was. We were both so enthralled, our lesson went on a longer than I had envisaged. I have glimpses of teaching my kids all about algebra and long division in nature too – if I can still remember that far back.
So, on your next bush walk try some nature math activities. Grab a ruler, scale or some measuring tape and let your child go for it. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll both love it.
More nature math activities
- After measuring the length of items, ask your child if they can measure the object in another way (width)
- Leaf Shape Play
- Learning numbers using natural materials
- If you’ve got an older child you can estimate the height of a tree
- You can also measure slow-moving animals like snails, ants and worms
- Measure the sun with a sun dial
- Measure the length of animal footprints by making an Animal Track Plot