Outdoor Math Activities for Kids

Learn math by playing outside

I am always writing about how important getting out in nature is if you want your kids to enjoy math (see this post and this post, for example), so today I am writing about some great outdoor math activities for kids! These are all simple and fun ideas – no special tools or advance planning is needed! These are specific guided activities that you and your child can enjoy together, but I want to stress that free time in nature is also a wonderful way for kids to develop critical thinking and observation skills that will help them excel in math.

Get Active

Running, spinning, and climbing are all great way to get kids thinking mathematically! Here are some fun active outdoor math games for kids:L

  • Spin a certain number of times in one direction, and then “unwind” by spinning the same number of times in the opposite direction. Add some simple science in by testing if you they feel more or less dizzy if they spin fewer times in one direction than the other.
  • Measure distances, first by carefully placing one foot in front of the other, then by running, and then by leaping. How many small steps are two trees apart? How many running steps? How many leaps?
  • If you have a watch handy, time yourself running different distances. Then see how much longer it takes if you are jumping, skipping, hopping, or running backwards.

make a nature collection

Make a Collection

Make a nature collection from whatever you can find lying around. Arrange your collection by size, or weight. Count out how many blades of grace it takes to fill the space of one pine cone. How many wood chips? How many pieces of dirt?

Outdoor math for kids

Talk about Shapes

What shapes can you find in your yard, park, or neighborhood? I think of spider webs as being made up of a bunch of lines, but with morning dew present there are a lot more spheres to look at than lines!

Finding the Fibonacci sequence in nature

Look Closely

How often do you stop with your child to really examine plants and flowers? This kind of careful examination will help your child learn to look for and recognize patterns – another valuable mathematical skill!

Spending time in nature is a great way to get kids interested in math

Find the Beauty!

Mathematicians see their field as a beautiful art. Math and nature are closely intertwined, and I am convinced that learning to see the nature in the world around us makes all of us better mathematicians!

Get Ready for K Through Play button

This post is the third in this year’s Get Ready for Kindergarten Through Play series! Here are some great ideas from my co-hosts for this series, and clicking on the button above will take you to the links from my blog for both last year and this year!

What math activities do your kids enjoy?

After School Learning for Kids: Build a Nest

bird nest building

We thoroughly enjoyed watching this Bewick’s Wren (if my bird identification skills are correct) build a nest in the bird house we have on our little patio this past week! Unfortunately, it disappeared partway through the week, so I’m wondering if it decided that my kids were a little loud. It also kept trying to use sticks that were really too large to fit into the house, so that may have convinced it to go nesting elsewhere, also. I did some more research on Bewick’s Wrens, and apparently the male will start to build several different nests. The female then picks her favorite and adds the finishing touches. Sounds like a good arrangement to me!

The rest of our week was very mellow. The weather was unbelievably summer-ish, so we spent most of our free time outside, especially playing in the sandbox in our housing complex. I wish I could send a little of our sunshine to our friends in Massachusetts! We went on our usual open space outing on Friday afternoon, and the kids enjoyed running around playing tag and hide and go seek. We are all looking forward to spring break, soon!

afterschool linky

2014 After School Party HOSTS

The Educators’ Spin On It
Planet Smarty Pants
Boy Mama Teacher Mama
Coffee Cups and Crayons
Little Wonders’ Days
Mama Smiles
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational
The Measured Mom
This Reading Mama
What Do We Do All Day

What fun and educational after school activities did your family enjoy this week? Please share you elementary school aged activities in the linky below (by doing so you are giving the linky hosts permission to feature your post and to pin it to our After School Activities board on Pinterest). I’ve had math on my mind with Pi Day, and I loved this multiplication facts printable from Teach Beside Me from last week’s shares!

Biology for Kids: An Afternoon with a Ladybug

Learning about nature by observing a ladybug. From mamasmiles.com

The kids found our first ladybug of the year yesterday afternoon while we were out on a walk. They brought it home along with some rocks and clover that they used to build a little ladybug habitat. Then they spent a long time watching their ladybug crawl around – biology for kids at its finest! We could have pulled out a book and looked up some ladybug facts, but we have actually read about ladybugs quite a bit (seven-year-old Emma adores them). I also think that kids sometimes learn best when they are left to discover on their own, with out textbooks or websites. Quiet observation that isn’t linked to questions and reporting can lead to a deeper interest in the subject, and children may make new discoveries when they are allowed to observe without guidelines of what to look for. Questions and guidance have their place, but I don’t think they should replace quiet contemplation and undirected exploration.

biology for kids: learning about ladybugs. From mamasmiles.com

Our ladybug made for a lovely quiet afternoon activity, and after enjoying her (or his?) company we placed her (him?) outside for the night.

I think this is a sign that we need to get our container garden planted! Is it warm enough for ladybugs where you live yet?

afterschool linky

2014 After School Party HOSTS

The Educators’ Spin On It
Afterschool for Smarty Pants
Boy Mama Teacher Mama
Coffee Cups and Crayons
Little Wonders’ Days
Mama Smiles
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational
The Measured Mom
This Reading Mama
What Do We Do All Day

What fun and educational after school activities did your family enjoy this week? Please share you elementary school aged activities in the linky below, remembering that by doing so you are giving the linky hosts permission to feature your post and to pin it to our After School Activities board on Pinterest. I adore this little beaded doll necklace that was linked up by Michelle of mollymoo last week!

Teaching Kids about Nature in an Urban Environment

Learning about trees in an urban setting. From mamasmiles.com

When we moved from Massachusetts to California, we trading in our unbelievable half acre backing up onto woods yard for a concrete patio. It has been a big adjustment, and one of the ways the kids and I are coping is by starting a new tradition. Every Friday, we go find some open space where we explore. They don’t have homework on Fridays (thank you, teachers!!!), so we can enjoy our afternoon without any worries.

California has some wonderful national parks that I want to explore with my kids, but in the meantime we have discovered that there are some open park spaces left, even in crowded Silicon Valley. The kids love having space to run around, and they explore the trees, which are very different from those we had in Massachusetts.

Teaching kids about nature in an urban setting. From mamasmiles.com

On one recent outing, we even saw a tree suddenly topple over – thankfully not one we were standing next to! We walked over to look at it, and as I suspected, its roots had been eaten away by termites. Poor tree!

Do you live in an urban area? How do you find ways to connect your children to nature? If you live in Silicon Valley and know of a place we should visit, please let me know!

afterschool linky

2014 After School Party HOSTS

The Educators’ Spin On It
Afterschool for Smarty Pants
Boy Mama Teacher Mama
Coffee Cups and Crayons
Little Wonders’ Days
Mama Smiles
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational
The Measured Mom
This Reading Mama
What Do We Do All Day

What fun and educational after school activities did your family enjoy this week? I loved this newspaper basket weaving activity that was linked up by Deceptively Educational last week! Please share you elementary school aged activities in the linky below, remembering that by doing so you are giving the linky hosts permission to feature your post and to pin it to our After School Activities board on Pinterest.

National Geographic for Kids!

National Geographic books for kids

When I was a kid, my grandparents bought us all books every Christmas. All except for one of my brothers – he always got a subscription to National Geographic. We ALL loved his present – it was the gift that kept on giving all year long. Those magazines taught my siblings and I an awful lot about the world’s diverse cultures and animals. In fact, one of my sisters dreamt for years of being a National Geographic photographer! I’m usually the one taking pictures, but she leads a pretty adventurous life in China!

Since I love National Geographic so much, I was thrilled when Moms Meet offered me a chance to review a collection of their kids’ products, which are currently available at a 30% discount here through December 31st! Even more exciting, purchasing National Geographic Books supports exploration, conservation, research, and education programs. You can learn more about National Geographic by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

nat-geo-books

 

 

We were sent these ten books to review – here are my thoughts on each:

Ultimate Weird but True 2

Have a kid who loves random facts? This is their book! I also think that the wacky facts combined with the abundance of fun photos in this book make it an excellent pick for drawing in reluctant readers!

Mother’s Love

This book combines academic facts about animals with adorable photos of mother and baby animals. It’s perfect for seven-year-old Emma, but five-year-old Johnny enjoys it as well (the writing is above his reading level, but not Emma’s). It’s also a great book for adults.

Meerkats

This is a fun level one reader that features a guess-the-closeup-photo quiz in the back of the book. I think the number of novel words in this book make it somewhat challenging for kids who are truly at a level one reading level, but it’s an excellent non-fiction read for kids – and it appeals to super-reader Emma as well as beginning-reader Johnny.

Best Friends Forever!

A collection of heart-warming stories of unlikely animal friends, this book will appeal to any young animal lover. The stories are very gentle – nothing too frightening or dramatic.

First Big Book of Why

This book answers all sorts of fun questions, with tons of photos! It also features some fun activities – looking at family genetics and floating. It also has some crazy facts – did you know that the walking catfish can breath in water and on land?

Almanac 2014

This book has a little bit of everything! Information on animals, countries, cultures, stars, and science. It includes more difficult subjects like wars, so I would recommend it for ages 8 and up.

Funny Fill-In

I’m saving this book for our next road trip! I think Emma will enjoy getting words from the younger kids and then reading these wacky stories out loud! The book contains interesting facts that are related to the stories.

Just Joking 4

This book is getting saved for our next road trip, too! It has fun jokes, tongue twisters, and riddles, and is nice and small – perfect for keeping in your bag for unexpected delays.

Everything Pets

This photo-filled book is all about pets – including facts that can make kids better pet owners but are things that you might not think (or know) to tell them about. I think this is an excellent choice if you’re looking to get a pet, have a pet, or even if (like us) allergies keep you from having pets but you would still like your kids to know about them. I think kids aged 4-12 would enjoy this book.

Devoted

If you love animal stories, this book is for you! I wouldn’t recommend it for young children, because some of the stories talk about very difficult subjects, including war and abuse. I was most fascinated by the stories of dogs detecting cancer. Who knew that was possible?!

Which of these books do you think you and your kids would enjoy the most?

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meetsm program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meetsm blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. All opinions are my own, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC. or the manufacturer of the product.