Supporting Parents: Outdoor Maths

88% of children say their maths confidence improves when parents and carers become more involved in their learning.

As we move into the summer holidays it can be useful to have some learning opportunities up your sleeve to help keep your children’s numeracy skills ticking over, and to prepare them for the school year ahead.  Getting outdoors provides a great opportunity to apply what your children have learnt in the classroom to real life situations and to discover fun, practical  applications which strengthen their understanding.

Keep checking in with us throughout the summer for weekly tips and ideas.

Week 1

Plan a picnic

• A summer picnic can be an amazing opportunity to play with numbers
• Reinforce addition and careful counting, as you pack the food
• Practise multiplication:  3 tomatoes each for 5 people. How many tomatoes do we need?
• Talk about fractions as you cut up the quiche:  two quarters is the same as one half

Week 2

Outdoor arrays

• Find things around the garden to make your own ‘array’ -  a pictorial representation to help your children understand multiplication and division
• For example, 3 x 4 could be shown as three groups of four leaves.  This makes twelve
• How else could you divide twelve?  Six groups of two?  Experiment with different groupings
• Remember to always share equally!

Week 3

Collecting Data

• Keep a tally chart recording how many different birds you see in the garden, how many different coloured cars on a journey, or the weather each day for a week
• For example: How many days did it rain?  How many sunny days were there?  How many cloudy days?
• At the end of the week, count up the numbers and create a bar graph to present your data
• Older children could explore other ways of presenting their data, or calculate the percentages for each type of weather

Week 4

Make a map

• Choose the the area you want to make a map of
• Measure it or pace it out with large steps.  Record your measurements as well as the shapes you will be plotting
• Practise your conversion skills, scaling the measurements down for you map picture.  Use the same ratio for each measurement
• Don’t forget to include a scale in your picture!

Week 5

• Get outside with buckets on the beach or watering cans in the garden, and talk about capacity!
• Make predictions for different containers, thinking about their specific shapes and sizes, and how these can affect volume

Everyday Maths

Don’t forget to involve your children in the everyday maths tasks you take on over the summer, whether it’s calculating time for a journey, counting up change to buy an ice cream, measuring out ingredients for a summer recipe, or following instructions to build a new birdhouse.

You can find a wide range of ideas and activities to help children see the maths in everyday life in our Family Maths Toolkit.

More from our Supporting Parents series

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Supporting Parents: Lucy Rycroft-Smith on board games, black eyes, and the importance of a 'mistakey' atmosphere

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Supporting Parents: The Maths Mum on why maths is still maths

Start improving your numeracy – register on the National Numeracy Challenge now!

National Numeracy has developed an online tool to help you improve your numeracy and boost your confidence. This interactive website is free to use at home, at work or on the move. You can assess your current level of numeracy – completely anonymously – and then begin an online journey to getting the Essentials of Numeracy.