Every day is a school day. Well that’s certainly true currently! Middle Child is very much a practical learner, so doing things like garden games is a great way for him to reinforce his maths knowledge.
Angles – Blindfold maze
There are several ways you can set up a blindfold maze. You can either mark out “pits” on the floor using chalk etc or you can use actual obstacles for them to navigate around. The idea is that the child is blindfolded and someone has to give them instructions to get from one end to the other. In order to make it into a maths game (rather than just running around your garden!) they have to give directions using angles. Personally I’d stick to 45°, 90°, 180° and 270° rather than trying to get anything more detailed. The child will be blindfolded after all. You can also get them to guide you through the maze. My life nearly flashed before my eyes but it was really good fun!
Another sneaky benefit of this particular garden maths game is that they really have to listen. “No, the other left!” It was a nice reminder they could indeed listen!
Fractions – Scavenger hunt
All you need for this garden maths game is a pen and paper! Have a look around your garden and ask questions like “What fraction of the flowers have red flowers, what fraction have blue?” Just get your child to write down how many red flowers, how many blue flowers and the total so they can work out the fraction. If it’s an improper fraction then get them to simplify it. Depending on your garden, there will be lots of different opportunities to work out some fractions.
Addition & subtraction – target practice
You can make your target as simple or as complicated as you like. In the past we’ve used a box with holes cut out and scores written on it. We’ve also just drawn a target on a tough spot like an archery target. Then all you need is to start hitting those targets. You could use water pistols, nerf guns, bean bags or anything similar. For additional practice they need to add up their scores towards the target. For subtraction choose a starting point and subtract the scores from there. You can make this age appropriate by adjusting the point scores and target totals.
Multiplication – Hopscotch
This is handy for if there’s a particular times table that you want to focus on. Draw out a normal hopscotch grid, but with 12 squares. You’ll also need two dice to play. Instead of just writing 1,2,3 etc on the squares write the times tables 4,8,12 etc. To play, roll the dice. Whatever number you roll is the multiplication that you miss. Roll a 6, skip 24 etc. As you jump along the hopscotch say each number you land on in turn.
Division – Painted Rocks
You can actually use painted rocks for all kinds of garden maths games. Simply paint rocks with all the numbers involved in a particular times tables up to x 12. For example if you’re practising the 2 times table you’ll need; 1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22 and 24. You’ll also need one rock with a divide symbol and one with =. Then simply create number sentences and get your child to choose the right rock to answer them. Obviously you can also use these rocks for addition, subtraction and multiplication.
If you cannot get your hands on enough rocks (or can’t be bothered to paint them) then you can also do the same thing with ball pit balls and a sharpie. They’re just harder to work with as you need something to keep them still. A cup or glass should work though.
Measuring – Duplo towers
Using duplo bricks to build a measuring stick is easier than using Lego because they’re bigger. Just get them to build the tower until it’s as tall as they are. Count how many blocks it took. Then build it up until it’s as tall as the next person. How many blocks did that take?
Chalk number line
A number line is a really helpful maths tool. Turn any maths problem into a game by drawing a massive chalk number line in the back garden. When they’re trying to work out the answer they just run up and down the line!
Easy Multiplication Game
Ok, this doesn’t need to be done outdoors, but it can be. It can also easily be done in the car
I hope you’ve found these garden maths games useful. There are lots of other ways to make learning maths fun. Check out free websites like the games on Oxford Owl or the BBC Bitezise website. If you’re looking for ideas of things to do in the garden then have a look at my post 21 outdoors activities you can do with the kids at home.