How to switch to teaching maths lessons outside
An important part of taking your maths classroom outside is recognising the opportunities the natural world provides. Consider the objectives for your next lesson and think about how they could be applied outdoors.
Yes, it may feel less structured in the beginning and yes it might be more difficult to see what everyone is doing at once — but in return, your learners will be given a rich mathematical experience.
Here are a few lesson ideas to help get you started,
1. Teaching Measurement Outside
Measurement units are one of the easiest ways to get your class using their outdoor environment for learning. The large amounts of space gives children the opportunity to do things like measure a kilometre, or estimate larger distances between objects, experiences they couldn’t have inside the classroom.
Den building is a favourite childhood activity for many children. Adding criteria can be a fun and challenging way to enrich the experience, for example: the den needs to have an area no smaller than 1 metre squared but no bigger than 8 metres squared.
2. Teaching Word Problems Outside
Give children word problems with outdoor contexts. This will give them an opportunity to leave the classroom to find all the information they might need to solve it. Here are some examples you can adapt to your outdoor classroom:
The caretaker needs to fertilise the field. The cost of fertiliser is 20c a metre. How much would it cost to fertilise the whole school field?
The caretaker needs to add chlorine to the school pool. The cost of chlorine is 20c per litre and the ratio of chlorine to water is 1:2. How much would the school need to spend on chlorine for the school pool?
3. Teaching Surveys and Statistics Outside
Surveys and investigations are an easy way to take the classroom outside.
Rather than the usual eye colour, fruit or how you get to school survey, why not take them outside and survey the number of cars that pass in a given timeframe, or ask them effective questions like:
Which car colour is the most popular in the school car park?
There are also opportunities for longer investigations all with real life contexts. Children can measure things like plant growth or the daily rainfall over a given period. Gathering the information to record in a number of different ways, they can be challenged to draw their own conclusions about the data.
4. Teaching Position and Direction Outside
Many of the common classroom activities we use to teach this topic, such as guiding friends around the classroom using turns and directions can easily be taken outside. The additional space provides children with an enriched experience and more opportunities for creativity and exploration.
5. Teaching Mark Making Outside
Mark making and recording mathematics in our books carries expectations, books are somewhat permanent.
While mark making outside is a completely different experience. With all that extra space, children can get creative, explore with size and experiment with the effectiveness of their recording.
Learning outdoors also allows children to use chalk, water, dirt and all sorts of other things for mark making. This is an experience they don’t get inside the classroom.