Maths Fun in the Sun (hopefully!)

Post date: Apr 10, 2014 6:11:08 PM

The evenings are getting brighter and the days are getting warmer! And with the better days, more and more teachers will be considering bringing the learning outdoors. If you are one of these teachers, and you're looking for ideas for outdoor maths, may I suggest some Maths Trails?

Now, I know you already appreciate how Maths Trails can open children up to the mathematics around them in their environment and provide real life opportunities to apply book-based maths, not to mention that they're fun! But the idea of researching, planning and preparing a maths trail can often be the biggest deterrent, especially at a time of the year when energy levels are beginning to drop!

Hopefully some of these solutions might help you become more enthusiastic about getting out in the sun!

Firstly, my favourite maths trail find is this excellent ready-made trail from the Copp School in the UK. With 13 different stops or stations, and each based on common features found in most schools (eg fences, playground markings, a tree, car park, etc.), most of these could be used exactly as presented, in a different school setting. Usually I use only 3 or 4 stops in one maths trail; this allows you to do about 10 minutes preparation in class (laying down the ground rules etc.), 40 minutes outside to do the stops (and 3/4 stops probably won't even take that long) and another 10 minutes for whole class feedback, discussion of responses etc.

Another ready made offering is this Shape and Space Trail that I put together myself a couple of years ago. While not very fancy, it is a generic trail that could be adapted for most classes; just download the document and edit it to suit your class level.

This Photograph Maths Trail from Gorey Educate Together, is aimed at 5th Class; however it could also be used with fourth and most of it would also suit third. It also could be used a springboard to the children developing similar photograph trails of your own school; send them off in groups with cameras/devices to take photographs, to which they then have to compose suitable questions.

This same principle is evident in the Have you got Maths Eyes? website. Developed by Dr. Terry Maguire of Tallaght IT, it aims to get people to open their maths eyes. There are lots of downloadable resources here that could be used and adapted to suit most classes, infants included. It also contains a number of ready made Maths Trails based on some of the public parks in Dublin, some of which could be adapted to suit other public parks, if there's one in your school's locality. Another one for the Dubs, is Dublin by Numbers, a set of maths trails based on places of Dublin.

If the weather lets us down, as it can, you could also do a type of virtual maths trail, on a famous landmark, like this one on Wembley Stadium, this one of the Weapons Room at Hampton Court Palace, or this one of Waterloo Station. I came across these trails via this article on Maths Trail Clubs from the NCETM Primary & Early Years magazine.

If, after all that, you get a sudden burst of energy and are enthused design a trail specific to your own school, then these other links might also be of use:

PDST Website: this has a whole host of ideas for trails for all class levels, including some based on brochures, menus as well as the local environment.

Trailblazing: InTouch article on maths and science

Primary Maths: further on information on Maths Trails plus a sample trail

Make a Measurement Maths Trail: From NZ Maths

Maths Trail: from Ulster Folk and Transport Museum

And don't forget to check out my Maths in the Environment board on Pinterest