Math & Science Outside

math science outdoor activitiesLearning outside is magic. Do you remember when your teacher would look out the classroom window and then say ” Get your things we are going outside!” BEST DAY EVER! That is why I love getting my kids outside to learn. One of the big struggles at our house is finding time to do these activities with my son who is in public school for most of the day. The way we do it is to pack a lot of learning into short but valuable activities. Help your kids boost their interest and skills in math and science by having fun outside! Playful Learning Ecademy who is sponsoring this post has a wonderful eCourse called Backyard Science that we have been having fun with. I thought I would bring together some of our favorite outdoor math & science activities in one spot for an easy resource. Check out some of our very favorites below.

Math

math outside for kids

Numbers in Nature

When we do scavenger hunts of any sort I need them to be adaptable for both my kids. When my son is doing a less active activity my daughter is less apt to want to be a part of it but once he’s running around searching for something she can’t wait to get in mix. Because of that this activity is easily adaptable to a wide range of levels.

  • You will need some fun felt leaves , a sharpie and a backyard or park where your kids can pick things.
  • Add numbers to the leaves. Even though this is for a 3 and 6 year old I still kept the numbers small. For the 3 year old her task was to recognize the number and find that number of things in the garden.  For the 6 year old I put two leaves together and his task would be to do mental math ( why I kept the numbers small) and add the numbers together then represent the sum with natural items found in the yard.

Fresh air + numbers + exploring the yard = serious fun and learning!

4 More Outside Math Activities 

Shoot & Add Nerf Gun Math Outside
Hose Down Shapes
Water Balloon Math
Bug Hunt & Count

Science

math and science outside for kids

Sound Map

When I think of Backyard Science I think of going outside to turn over rocks or doing giant vinegar and baking soda volcanoes. There is so much more for kids to explore though from colors, sounds, habitats and yes messy gooey science too. In the Playful Learning Ecademy course kids become naturalists and use their own backyard as their lab. What I love most about these activities are the videos that support them. The activities are short but valuable and the planning is done for you. It’s a perfect combination for mindful but busy families.

After school one day my son chose to do the Sound Map from Backyard Science.

  • We grabbed some paper, a clip board and a pencil.
  • He plopped down in a good spot in our back yard and put an x on the paper to represent himself.
  • Then he listened. He made marks and wrote what he heard in different places in relation to where he was sitting.

I was so fascinated by how still he was. He is 6 and wiggles constantly as most do but to see him still and focused was thrilling. We talked about what he recorded and went to see if we could find any of the sources of the sounds, well the natural ones. We knew where the lawnmower sound was coming from. This ended up opening up a dialog about conservation since we could hear more man made sounds than nature ones and we live in a semi rural area.

4 More Outside Science Activities

Squirt Gun Science
Cutting Nature
Snow Science
Color Hunt in Nature

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What math or science activity do you do with your kids outside? Share your favorites in comments!

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This post was sponsored by Playful Learning Ecademy  – I love working with them because their eLessons are rad and my son loves doing them.

Shoot & Add { Nerf Gun Math For Kids }

nerf gun learning activityThis outdoor math for kids can be done with beanbags, baseballs, water balloons… or Nerf guns like we used. My mantra is to use what they love to make them love learning and that is what we did. Nerf guns are big news at our house right now because I just relented and let my kids have them. Using the darts are an outside only activity although they are loved less for their shooting ability and more for a pretend play prop. Either way they are the bright shiny new and novel item at our house so I used them to make learning fun after school. My goal with all the activities in the Learning After School series is to make the activities for school age kids that are educational without making them feel like homework. Here is what we did with this math for kids activity and yes they LOVED it!

Gather your materials. You will need some plastic cups, a permanent marker, something to use to write down the tally, a nerf blaster , and eye protection. If you don’t want to use a Nerf gun you could use a bean bag or ball.  math activity for kids

Start by writing out numbers on the cups. We did 1-6 but you could number them anything you like. Set them up in a pyramid. nerf gun counting and adding

Get your glasses on and get ready! nerf gun backyard math for kids

Knock those numbers down!!nerf gun math gross motor activity

Add all the numbers on the cups together and record on the chalkboard. nerf gun math tally up

This activity was made for my 6 year old not my 3 year old but so when she shot them down I had her simply identify the numbers on the cups. I am planning on doing this again with her using a bean bag instead of a Nerf gun and the goal of hitting specific cups down. I will post it when I do. nerf gun math number recognition

Set the cups back up and go again. nerf collage 1Add the tally up. I did the addition for my daughter but got her to write some. My son did his own writing. It’s not a ton of practice but it’s a little something in the midst of a fun activity so I will take it! nerf gun addition

Like I said this was designed for my almost 7 year old not my 3 year old. She did well with it and had fun but I would never use this activity with a group of 3 year olds – nerf guns while safe to play with still hurt if you get one in the eye or at close range which is why they had safety glasses on. You know best what your kids are ready for but I just wanted to be clear that this is meant for our big kids !

 

Candy Apple Math Game For Kids

use candy for math Candy is a great motivator. It’s not the main motivator I want to use but from time to time it’s novelty is useful and a fun break from more everyday things. This is a simple math game for kids that works on sorting, estimation ,and counting. When working with kids and edibles my rule is that if you do not sneak any you get a small pile at the end of the activity. My son is a rule follower by nature and did this as we have in the past. His 3 year old sister did not. Every child is different but that rule has worked for me over the years much more often than not. Have pom poms or buttons on hand if you need to swap out or prefer not to use candy at all.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a sheet of paper with three trees on it ( you can print mine here) , cookie sheets to keep the candies from rolling away, candies ( our natural dyed red is sorta wine colored but the kids didn’t bat an eye), a small dish for each player, and a jar with a lid. candy apple tree math for preschool
  2. Give each child a sheet with three trees and a small dish. Shake up the jar with all 3 colors of candies in it and pour some into each child’s dish. candy apple tree math
  3. Have them guess which tree will have the most apples on it by estimating which color is the most prevalent in their dish of candies. candy apple tree math for kids
  4. Start sorting the candies and placing them on the matching trees.candy apple math game for kids
  5. Which has the most? Which has the least? How many do they all have? Count to find out.candy apple math counting
  6. Sneak a few candies… or every single green candy when mom is busy taking pictures of your big brother counting. candy eating
  7. Pour the candies back in the jar, shake, and repeat the game.  For my son I had him figure out how many more the tree with the most had than the tree with the least and do some other simple addition and subtraction by allowing him to eat a few and then telling me how many there were after eating them. For my daughter I had her simply count and sort. I loved how easy it was to adapt to both their levels.candy apple counting game

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Books About Apple Trees

apple picking time

Apple Picking Time by Michele Benoit Slawson  was not what I was expecting , it was so much more. I was expecting a basic book about picking apples at an orchard.  This book is anything but basic, it’s dreamy and while reading it I almost felt as thought I was back in time when a whole community would come to a stand still for something like apple picking.  The protagonist is Anna a little girl who works hard in the orchard along side her parents and grandparents . She isn’t as fast as her parents, but with hard work and the support of her family she reaches her goal and fills a bin! I loved this book,  I would suggest it for preschoolers and up.

Apples, Apples, Apples

Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace will not be returned to the library on time. We got it out today and my son has had me read it to him 3 times, and his dad read it twice. Clearly it gets the 3 year old seal of approval. It also gets mine. The story is more than just a story about a afmily going apple picking at an orchard. It explains all sorts of apple facts but what I really love is that it also explains that there are different kinds of apples and each are used for different things. Since each member of the family is using their apples for different purposes that fact is driven home . Great book for preschoolers going on a apple picking field trip , making applesauce or apple prints.

One Red Apple

One Red Apple by Harriet Ziefert is stunning. I really enjoy this author but most of my praise for this book lands squarely on the illustrator Karla Gudeon’s shoulders. WOW. I just adore the look, and creativity of this book. The story follows the cycle of one apple from orchard, to market back to seed, tree and back into the hands of a child. I enjoy books like this that simply explain the cycles of the natural world to young kids , but you can’t miss this one.  As I turned each page I gasped, it’s one of those books you just need to sit and look at because each time you do you find some little detail you missed before.

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Egg Carton Math by Teach Preschool

{ Please welcome Deborah from Teach Preschool who has come to my aid and offered this great activity for you all today so I could ( and did) have a mostly laptop free vacation with my family. If you aren’t familiar with Deborah’s blog Teach Preschool go now because it’s amazing. I wish I could be a fly on her classroom wall and just learn from her. }

 

Simple Egg Carton Math Games

Start by making sure you are using clean egg cartons. You might even run the egg cartons through the dishwasher if you have any doubts. Next, look around the house and gather up a few sets of small objects that will fit inside each egg cup…

Simple Egg Carton Math Games

I used small cars, buttons, pompoms, and soft blocks for my first set of egg carton math boxes and then set them out with the lids closed and just waited for my grandson to find them and want to open each of the cartons up to see what is inside…

Simple Egg Carton Math Games

As young children are given the opportunity to explore an open ended process such as egg carton math – they are being exposed to such mathematical concepts as sorting, matching, counting, subtracting, adding, comparing, and contrasting…

Simple Egg Carton Math Games

Perhaps the play looks like nothing more than putting something in and out of a box but if you look closely, you will see that the thinking wheels are turning and that is the first step towards genuine mathematical thinking…

Simple Egg Carton Math Games

To read more early learning tips from Deborah

 

Hop over to Teach Preschool!

Deborah Tall

Math Games { Shell Memory }

math games for kids shell memory gameWe live on an island and while we don’t get to walk on sandy beaches ( ours are more like barnacle beaches ) we do have lots of shells and the summer is often filled with discovering them along the shore. This math game taps into that experience while also working on memory and number recognition.  Using math games to teach is a great way for parents to connect to what kids are learning and become participants not just observers. This math game was a snap to put together with shells from the craft store. I caution you to check all the shells in a package for sharp edges before letting your kids play with them, some of ours were broken and really sharp.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some shells, a sharpie, a tray or something else that will keep the shells contained. I used a sheet of paper towel to keep the shells from sliding on the tray too.
  2. Write a pair of number names along with the numeral on shells. We did 1- 10 but you can do any combination of numbers using only the numeral or number written out. math games with shells
  3. Let the marker dry for a few minutes before playing.
  4. Arranged the shells face down in random order.math games for kids shell game
  5. Play. math games for kids shell game for 3 year oldsOne player flips a shell and leaves it face up, then flips another. If they match they leave them face up and the other player goes. If they do not match both shells are flipped back over and you start from scratch. You can also play one player like this. With discovery based math games like this you will probably notice that your child will naturally identify the numbers without prompting. If they don’t feel free to say “What did you find?” If they know number they will identify it if they don’t they will probably hold it out and say “This.” That’s when you step in and say ” Look you found 4 !” or something else easy breezy that still gives them the facts without making it feel like you are telling them something they should already know. math games

After we played a few rounds my daughter discovered that if she shook the tray gently that they shells made a really pretty tinkling sound.

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Need some books to go along with this beach themed activity? Click here to see the reviews for the books below.

reading lists for kids