Outdoor maths challenge

I want to use our outside environment more, especially for maths and I have been getting my thoughts together for a maths challenge morning. As it’s nearly the end of term and we haven’t covered anywhere the things that I wanted to, it needs to cover elements of Block D of the new framework. So I’ve decided to base it as much as possible around measurement.

I’ve come up with the following activities so far and the children can choose which ones they want to do. I might have some sort of points system for each one so that they can be a bit competitive (as my group is mainly boys!).

So far I have:

1. Measuring the circumference of 5 different trees and finding the biggest possible difference between them and the smallest possible.
2. Choosing 5 different features and estimating how far away they are in metres and then measuring
3. Finding the area and perimeter of the ball court and then trying to work out how many tennis balls would cover the surface ( I did something similar with snowballs a couple of years ago)
4. Measuring all the edges of a brick. What are the surface areas? What is the volume of a single brick?
5. Use sticks to make triangles as per the nrich challenge
6. Go on an angle hunt and find and measure 2 acute, 2 obtuse and 2 right angles.

That’s all I’ve come up with for now. Any thoughts or comments would be very welcome.


6 thoughts on “Outdoor maths challenge

  1. Hello

    Just saw your tweet about this blog post. I’m based in Scotland so not too sure of English curriculum. Have a look at my blog index for some maths ideas http://creativestarlearning.blogspot.com/p/help.html The right angles and scale tasks work a treat especially as a halfway point to applying the concepts in the field

    There’s a lot of fun to be had comparing standard with non-standard ways of measuring – by working out the mean armspan of a group, the group can then hold hands to make a circle and “roll” around the playing field to work out its perimeter. This can then be compared to results obtained through trundle wheels etc.

    Best wishes

    1. LOL! It was your post that inspired me to sort out my lesson originally. I got the link from Squiggle’s blog through twitter. There are some great ideas on there. I’m working on a scale challenge for them as well. I love the idea of the armspans. Just need a lovely sunny morning now!
      Thanks 🙂

  2. Jo Phillips

    Hello, if you email me I will forward on the day plan that I used today. Its a full day of outdoor maths in nature that we run in the parks. There are loads of things on there aimed at inspiring those that struggle with maths and allows those that enjoy maths to work at their own level.

    All the best


  3. Hi, Janette: some interesting activities here. Great idea to get out of the classroom for some “applied mathematics”.

    If you haven’t done the activities yet, could I suggest you tweak them to add a real purpose? Each activity seems rather mundane and an “exercise” rather than a “problem needing a solution”. Even if you manufacture a purpose for each one, a reason for needing to know about the circumference of trees or the number of tennis balls that will cover a surface, I think the children would be more committed to their activities and their learning.

    1. Yes, you’re right.. I think I was guilty of trying to do too much at a time and not actually thinking any of it through properly. A useful experience though and one that I need to build on next year.

  4. emmaldawson

    I’m taking mine outside to do the angles with sticks lesson on Monday but love some of your other ideas too. It’s amazing how once you think of one activity you can come up with loads of others. Will remember some of them for unit D next year.

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