Math is real and concrete and hands-on and all around us. Let's go outside and count, measure, sort, and learn!
Note! Remind children to never pull living things off plants. Only collect things on the ground for these activities. Encourage them to return items to where they found them when you are finished with them.
Take several lunch sacks and write different numerals on them. Challenge children to make appropriate sets from objects in nature to go in the bags.
*Have children return the objects to where they found them.
Draw basic geometric shapes (square, triangle, rectangle, oval, rhombus, circle) on 6” cardboard squares. Let the children take the shapes and match them to something in nature with a similar shape.
Give children a piece of string or yarn 5” to 8” long. How many things can they find that are shorter than their string? Longer? The same?
Children can count trees, fence posts, toys, bushes, and many other items in their yard or on the playground.
*Have them estimate how many and then verify their guess by counting.
Collect 5 or 6 leaves, rocks, sticks or other natural objects. Place a leaf, then a rock, a leaf, then a rock. “What will come next?” Let children make up their own patterns with objects in nature.
Ask children to collect different natural objects such as rocks, leaves, etc.
(This will vary with the season and your habitat.) Put their objects together in a big pile. Ask the children to put the objects that are alike together. What was their sorting rule? Can they sort them another way?
Addition and Subtraction
Add and subtract using natural objects.
Make up number stories using sports. For example: My team had 3 runs and we scored 2 more. How many in all?
Collect sticks of different lengths and have the children put them in order from smallest to largest.
*They could also seriate leaves, rocks, etc.
Dot to Dot
Take chalk and write numerals 0-20 randomly on a hard play surface. Children start with zero and run, hop, march, or skip to each numeral in order.
*Adapt the amount to the age of the children.