Doing math doesn’t have to mean sitting inside with a worksheet, especially during the summer!
When school is out and the weather is nice, kids and adults alike can enjoy the outdoors while still stretching the brain. Summer is a rich opportunity to bring mathematical thinking into these fun outdoor activities. Explore numbers, engineering, measurements and more with structured activities, or ask the right questions to evoke mathematical thinking in almost any activity!
We have rounded up activities that can be adapted for children of different ages, for outdoors or camping, and with different materials.
Outdoor Summer Math Activities
1. Outdoor Number Line Activity: Allison from No Time for Flashcards shares this activity where kids can find numbers and solve equations using the number line. All you need is a sidewalk or blacktop and a piece of chalk!
2. Finding Symmetry in Nature: Young explorers can find natural objects on a hike or at a park and explore symmetry in this activity from Chelsey at Buggy and Buddy.
3. Paper Frisbee Geometry: Use geometry concepts to create your own frisbee, then fly them as an experiment, following the outline from Almost Unschoolers.
4. Build a Marble Run: Sarah from Frugal Fun with Boys shows us how to get crafty with craft sticks and cardboard boxes to create marble runs and mazes with young engineers.
5. Lego Math: Using legos as a measurement of weight, children gain number sense by comparing and estimating weight in this activity idea also from Sarah.
6. Newspaper Forts: Young engineers create triangles out of rolled up newspapers to build their own fort structures. Find the activity at Modern Parents Messy Kids.
7. Skewer Structures: Children get hands on with this engineering activityshared by Ana from Babble Dabble Do.
8. Math Art with Parabolic Curves: Get hands-on with parabolic curves by creating your own math art with these activities from What Do We Do All Day? Get physical and use string to recreate the art in 3-D!
9. Timing Outdoor Races: Young children explore the concept of time (How long is a minute?) in this outdoor activity from Carla at Preschool Powol Packets.
10. Sum, Say & Spray Math Game: Young mathematicians can practice sums, while older mathematicians can create number problems and equations in this outdoor activity shared by Kate at Kitchen Floor Crafts.
11. Water Balloon Math: Make a splash with math! This activity from No Time for Flashcards can be adapted to practice sums, fractions or multiplication, for any level of mathematician.
12. Circle Project: Use a camera and snap pictures of circles (or another shape) anywhere you go. This activity is a great opportunity to explore shapes and perspective. For example, if the angle of the picture isn’t right, how might a circle look like an ellipse?
13. Explore Shadows: This activity from The Pinterested Parent combines art and math to explore shapes, and the connections between 2D and 3D objects.
14. Balancing Scales: Have fun in the garden by challenging students to find objects that weigh more than, less than or equal to other objects. Create the do-it-yourself garden scales with instructions from Jode at Mummy Musings and Mayhem.
15. DIY Water Wall: Rachel from Tinkerlab shares this do-it-yourself water wall. Students can help you design the wall as well as interacting with the wall by pouring water to see what happens. What happens when you pour 1 cup of water? What about a pint?
16. Design and Build a Math Game: Design and build a math board game, card game, app or outdoor game and share it in the K-12 Game-a-thon.
Bonus: Turn Any Summer Activity into a Math Experience
Planning a boat trip? A summer hike? Bicycling? Many summer activities can be turned into a math experience for your kids just by asking some intriguing questions. Questions like these help make math more accesible and applicable to the world around us.
- What do you notice about…?
- What do you think will happen if...?
- What changed when we did that?
- Why did that happen?
- How can we…?
- Which way was better/shorter/faster?
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Article was originally published on July 4, 2015 and was updated to include even more summer activities for kids.