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’s no way to get out of this one.
Surely there’s a way I can teach children math in a fun way. I don’t mean just for them, but me too. I need some way of coping with the horrid flashbacks if I’m going to teach my daughter anything useful.
An idea popped into my head. Ideas get me a little excited.
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
It was a little odd but one day I took a ruler with us on our walk in the nature reserve. Although I did get a few strange looks from passing walkers, we enjoyed a whole hour of learning and fun together. As soon as I put the ruler in my daughters 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 into 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. 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 was surprised how much fun learning in nature was. We were both so enthralled. Our lessons 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
[email protected] Little Bookcase says
I just bought Cammy a fluoro coloured set of scales- an impromptu purchase. We might have to take it outdoors.
Rachel | Racheous says
We have done this with a measuring tape before, but around the house and before Cam had a more concrete understanding of numbers. I’ll have to give this and go and I’ll be looking out for scales when we go thrifting next 😀
Ooh I love the idea to take the scales outside! My kids steal their Dad’s workmans tape measure and measure everything often but they’d love to use scales outside!
Bek @ Just For Daisy says
Miss Daisy has been obsessed with my sewing tape measure lately – we’ve measured lots of inside things but we’ll definitely take it outdoors! 🙂
Love this! Totally doing this on our next forest trip! can’t wait!
Never thought of this before, great idea!
It would have been cute watching her try to measure the Ant lol
Off the Couch Kids says
Caitlin Lombardi says
This is great! A good way to combine learning about nature and numbers! I would definitely want to do this with kids on a little hiking expedition. Also- if you measure with centimeters, they can convert it into meters, millimeters, etc.
What creative yet simple fun! Love it.
[email protected] says
Time to raid IKEA for some of those free measuring tapes because my kids are going to love this! Thanks Penny 🙂 xo P
Mama Carmody says
I love all of your measuring activities. So much learning and they just think they are playing.
Kate_Laughing Kids Learn says
This just proves the fact that you really can learn where ever you are. Thanks for this. Another great post.
Great idea to get the measuring tools outside and check out nature this way!
Elise @ Creative Play Central says
Maths in the outdoors – love it! What a great way to explore and learn about mathematical concepts.
[email protected] Measured Mom says
I love this post! My kids have been asking so many questions about size – they’ll have so much fun. Sharing at the After School linky on Monday 🙂 – and pinned to our group board.
Penny Whitehouse says
Hi Anna, thanks so much for your lovely comment and for sharing at the After School linky. Miss Possum really loved this activity. Best ofall I can tell she really enjoyed it because I caught her measuring things around the house yesterday. I love that my daughter loves to learn!
What a brilliant idea. My little one loves measuring things – a table, the length of his feet, the dog’s tail. You name it, he’ll measure it. We have recently started attending a ‘wood school’ where the children explore the environment and explore nature in a really hands on, exciting way. What a great idea to merge the two; perhaps we will weigh all the conkers and acorns we find when we go tomorrow or measure the autumn leaves and put them in size order! Thanks for sharing
Penny Whitehouse says
Katie, I love the sound of wood school. I wish we had one here in Australia. So wonderful to hear there’s resources like that out there for children.
How wonderful! This is the way I am aiming to teach my children. We’re a bit young yet but I’m loving exploring your blog and your ideas. Thanks 🙂