Maths Outside? No way!

Maths is a difficult subject to study, that’s why it is important for teachers to ask themselves, how can they make maths more entertaining? How can they make it something which is enjoyed rather than something which is a textbook subject? I have always believed maths to be a textbook subject as it was all that I have ever experienced. When I was in school, I was never given the opportunities to explore maths in any other subject or outside the classroom, therefore our input on maths outdoors was very eye opening.

What we carried out in this input is one of many ways in which teachers could use to teach maths outdoors and help their pupils to understand maths from a different perspective. In this input we looked at how we could measure a tree by using an isosceles triangle, however, I don’t think many children or adults would ever look at trees and associate them to maths, well I certainly never would; this outlines the lack of creativity shown within my maths education.

What can children gain from Maths outdoors?

Early years careers, (2015) state that by “taking maths outside, it refreshes the subject,” it can help to move away from traditional textbook learning and can show children an entire new and creative dimension to maths which they are not fully aware about. (Early years careers, 2015). (National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, 2008) also state that they believe that “every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstances.”

Thus, maths outdoors should be recognised as important in order to help children’s development; as working on maths outdoors can encourage children to make different “links between feelings and learning” (NCETM, 2008). NCETM, (2008) outline that these links can help to influence the decisions and choices we make, thus they enable young individuals to “transfer learning experienced outside to the classroom and vice versa”. Therefore, by working outdoors children could gain information about the subject that they would have never gained from inside the classroom.

By going outside of the classroom, children can gain more opportunities compared to within the classroom because outdoors can provide “authentic or experiential learning” this is where learners can actually experience what they are learning, this cannot always happen in the classroom. This can facilitate improved access to the key “pathways to learning”; for example, Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic. Teachers could use this to their advantage to help their pupils learn new information in the most appropriate and beneficial way for them. (National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, 2008)

How can children engage with maths outdoors more?

There are so many different forms of resources which can be used inside a classroom when completing maths, however there is actually an unlimited amount of resources which can be used outside. This is because the “natural environment can be used as resources in maths activities as well as bought in resources” (Early years careers, 2015). Therefore, teachers should make use of all the exciting outdoor resources when doing maths activities to encourage engagement, by only using pencils, papers and clipboards outside the engagement may lack because they use these so much inside.

It is important to note that resources are not always objects, as within our input we were measuring trees, we did use a form of apparatus when properly estimating the measurements but we also used ourselves to help measure the trees. We used our sight to see the top of the tree whilst bending over, this then helped us to know where to measure from. Teachers should make the most of the outdoor space and use the pupils to calculate their own findings as this wouldn’t happen all the time in the classroom.

Teachers will know that the outdoor environment will provide different opportunities, thus they should “apply creative and imaginative tasks in which the children can apply knowledge they already have to the real world” (Early years careers, 2015). For example, a creative outdoors activity could be kite making where they have to find outdoor materials to make their kite. By making their activities relevant, they will be more interested and therefore more engaged with what they are doing.

Within schools, maths can be seen as a sit-down activity, I believe this should change in order to remove this negative stigma of maths and appreciate all of its different elements indoors and outdoors. Thus, to engage with maths outdoors more, teachers should work together to make outdoor learning more regular within the school day. (University of Plymouth, 2016) For example, teachers could adapt their lesson plans to work in both indoors and outdoors conditions, this will then give children the opportunity to experience maths in different exciting ways and not only describe it as a textbook subject but understand that “learning mathematics outside the classroom is not enrichment, it is at the core of empowering an individual’s understanding of the subject” (NCETM, 2008). Therefore, with the support and creative ideas from teachers, not only should the level of engagement increase but it could help to increase a child’s confidence when understanding different mathematical content.

Early Years Careers. (2015). The importance of taking maths outdoors – Early Years Careers. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Nov. 2018].

National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics. (2008). Learning Maths Outside the Classroom. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Nov. 2018].

University of Plymouth. (2016). TRANSFORMING OUTDOOR LEARNING IN SCHOOLS. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Nov. 2018].

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