P L AY N O T E S                                                                                                          ...
P L AY N O T E S*Draft Framework for Childrens Learning in the Foundation Phase in Wales (2004)        “Children should ex...
P L AY N O T E S*Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage, QCA(2000)   Plants and growing                             ...
P L AY N O T E S                                                               “Mathematical development depends on becomi...
P L AY N O T E S**Curriculum Framework for children 3 to 5, Learning & Teaching Scotland 2001                             ...
P L AY N O T E SReasoning                                                  BuildingChildren need opportunities to develop ...
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The Outdoor Mathematician: Early Years Outdoors Learning


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The Outdoor Mathematician: Early Years Outdoors Learning

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  1. 1. P L AY N O T E S November 2005 Enriching the maths in outdoor play We all want to plan activities and experiences that match The Outdoor and extend our children’s enthusiasms and curiosity. Children’s imaginative play can Mathematician Sheila Ebbutt and Carole Skinner be inspired by all kinds of things that we can provide if we apply creativity and lateral thinking. Remember that children love objects that reflect the real world, such as *Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage, QCA(2000) hard hats, wheelbarrows, shovels and planks – props that are as realistic as possible rather than toy replicas. The weather should inspire what we do too. But we don’t need to wait for a rainy day to have a puddle day and make puddles everywhere. If your hard surfaces are all flat, you “Help children to can construct a shallow puddle by using a very low wall of see themselves as sand to contain the water. mathematicians” * There is a lot of maths in making puddles: How big shall we make it? How much water will we need? How much sand will we need to build the wall? What is the largest puddle we can make if we only use a smallAll photographs © Learning through Landscapes unless otherwise stated. We know that outdoor provision is an essential bucket of sand? Children can look at the part of children’s daily environment and life. We reflections in the puddles, make circles in them also know that play is the most important thing with a stick, and explore stamping in them. for children to do outside. As practitioners, we can plan the resources and the stimulus so that And if it does rain, make the most of children have the opportunity to develop it by providing hoods, ponchos, hats, mathematical thinking and learn mathematical umbrellas and Wellington boots. skills as part of their outdoor play. They can Use a plastic gazebo, suspended count and measure and explore shapes, and shower curtains, waterproof develop their imagination and creativity groundsheets, and bubble wrap through mathematical ideas on a large scale. on a clothes’ horse. Children can All the mathematical learning children do experience the shapes these indoors they can also do outdoors, but with contained areas provide. vigour, freedom, and scale. This resource was originally created as part of the Early Years Outdoors membership scheme from Learning through Landscapes. To find out more about membership call 01962 845 811 or visit www.ltl.org.uk M AT H E M AT I C A L T H I N K I N G LEARNING THROUGH LANDSCAPES – 01962 845811
  2. 2. P L AY N O T E S*Draft Framework for Childrens Learning in the Foundation Phase in Wales (2004) “Children should experience a wide variety of activities, some of which will focus directly on mathematical development and some that will draw out the mathematics in other activities. The indoor and outdoor environment should provide children with a context for activities that should allow them to investigate, estimate and to solve real life problems.* In cold weather, supply woolly hats, scarves and footprints to count and to compare shapes. Put a gloves, and protection from the wind (although wooden plank across the sand pit for children to you can explore which direction it is coming balance on and to see their constructions from a from!) Do lots of physical, boisterous, noisy different perspective. Have patches of damp sand activities, such as zigzagging between lines of as well as dry sand. Have available a range of plastic cones or pedalling round a numbered large-scale equipment. Use it selectively so your obstacle course in the right order. On sunny children are not overwhelmed by stimuli. Talk days, create shaded areas with large umbrellas, about why some containers fit inside others and muslin sheets, and a large sail over the climbing some do not, how sand slithers down the side of frame. Have lots of towels available so that a funnel and forms a cone shape, and whether children can splash around in the paddling pool, the size of the hole means the bucket empties exploring the mathematical ideas offered by faster. At times, add natural materials – twigs, water play on a large scale. shells, stones – and include magnifying glasses and binoculars. Water play Ideally your outdoor environment will have a tap with running water so that children can play with hoses. If you do not have this, is there an indoor tap you can run a hose from? With ingenuity you can create fountains, waterfalls, lakes and streams. You need not go to the expense of motorised fountains. Use pond liners and bricks of different shapes and sizes to make sections within the water area, Developing outdoor areas with and change these regularly. You can use large and small containers of water for comparison of maths in mind volume and weight. You could provide a range of things to experiment with the mathematical You can enhance the mathematical provision in concepts of number, shape, space and measure. all your outdoor areas by providing rich and Here are few suggestions. Balsa wood rafts sent exciting environments to engage children’s across a ‘lake’ could link to other curriculum curiosity and challenge their thinking. To help areas – how many could you fit on your lake. children benefit from outdoor mathematical How much weight could your raft carry? Add experiences, you will need to: some balloons and anchor them to a brick. Drop ● Talk to children about the activities in the in cooked spaghetti for children to retrieve with different areas. tongs and forks, to count and compare lengths. ● Plan and use mathematical language with the Add some large porridge oats and provide children. whisks, ask the children to predict what might ● Encourage children to solve problems happen. themselves by prompting them with questions such as, ‘I wonder if all these stones The digging area will fill that hole?’. You can change this ● Value children’s ideas and allow them to from mud to sawdust to explain what they think before you intervene. gravel to leaf mould to ● Give children time to review and reflect upon forest bark, to develop what has happened as the activity finishes. children’s ideas of capacity, especially if you provide a range of The sand area digging implements and containers. A digging Capitalise on the special nature of the outdoors, scenario can turn easily into a problem-solving the freedom it gives to make a mess and the one when the hole has to be deep enough to opportunity to deal with a larger and deeper bury three rocks in or a post for the washing line. expanse of sand. Removing socks and shoes and Children can explore just how many stones can wriggling toes in the sand leads to making fit into a newly dug hole. M AT H E M AT I C A L T H I N K I N G LEARNING THROUGH LANDSCAPES – www.ltl.org.uk
  3. 3. P L AY N O T E S*Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage, QCA(2000) Plants and growing soft paintbrushes to move Use hanging baskets at child minibeasts instead of handling height and involve children in them). planting and watering. Together, draw up a rota for Sensory experiences watering and deadheading Set up large pots with plants the plants, written as a chart that are interesting to touch and so that children can see who smell, including herbs and did it last and work out who is scented flowers. Install a range next. Set up a potting table of wind chimes made by the resourced with compost, children as well as soft drums bulbs, small bedding plants and rain shakers. Put out bowls and plastic pots. Decide how containing a variety of small many pots will be needed to smooth pebbles and shells to pot up all the plants, how far handle, count and make up the pots the compost will patterns with. Set up a reflection come, and how deep to plant site and involve the children in the seeds and bulbs. Agree “Make good use of opportunities noticing how things look how much water each plant to talk ‘mathematically’ as through mirrors. Use distorting will need, and how often. children play or take part in mirrors, and ask children to Measure growth against observe what they see, and how normal daily activities”* things that are familiar to the their size and shape changes. children: it’s exciting to compare tall-growing plants to your own height by standing beside them. Sunflowers are ideal for this. Undisturbed piles of old logs create habitats for minibeasts. Encourage earwigs by resting flower pots on their sides and filling with straw. Find snails underneath large damp stones. Keep a large record display showing how many beetles, spiders and ants are seen each day. Draw a map of where each species can be seen. Make a tape recording of what to look for and how to care for the minibeasts in the garden (provide Maths games outdoors Grid Hopping Capitalise on children’s love of active games and A counting game for a group of two to five introduce the right amount of challenge. Infiltrate children the maths by setting up circuit training! Together You will need with the children build an obstacle course that ● A large 5 x 5 grid chalked onto a hard has elements such as zigzag running, touch the stone and three hops, walk sideways for five steps surface and warm-up and warm-down. Games ● A collection of small objects can play a major part in ● A carrying bag for each hopping child supporting children’s ● A large 1 to 6 dice understanding of ● A caller to roll the dice and call out the number and some of number the best things about outdoor games are How to play making a lot of noise, Put some objects on each of the squares. All being able to jump the hoppers stand on a different square. The about, skip, hop, roll caller rolls the dice and calls out the number. balls, aim beanbags and The hoppers hop that many squares in any puzzle over things with direction. If the square they finish their friends. To get the most hops on has an object on it they can pick it from playing games, up and put it in the bag. When the dice has encourage children to re-count any collections of been rolled five times, the game is over and objects they have and give them the opportunity the hoppers empty their bags and compare to reflect on what happened during the game. the collections. M AT H E M AT I C A L T H I N K I N G LEARNING THROUGH LANDSCAPES – 01962 845811
  4. 4. P L AY N O T E S “Mathematical development depends on becoming confident and competent in learning and*Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage, QCA(2000) using key skills. To give all children the best opportunities for effective mathematical development, practitioners should give particular attention to many different activities … [which are] practical … imaginative and enjoyable”* More maths games ideas: Sitting on a log How to play A game for up to five children about Give each child a number and ask them to recognising numbers choose a log to sit on. There should be one empty log. Roll the dice, say the number and You will need the child holding that number runs and sits on ● Six small logs* arranged the empty log. If a six is rolled everyone in a large circle changes logs. Keep playing until either ● A large 1 to 6 dice everyone is sitting on a different log to the one ● One to five wooden they started the game on or everyone is back numerals or sitting on the same log they started on. When number cards the game is over discuss how many different *Squares of carpet will work just as well. logs children sat on. Learning through Landscapes is grateful to all the settings who have supplied us with the images in this Playnotes. Maths trails a maths trail to suit any part of your curriculum or any topic or for any interest of a group. Setting up maths trails is great fun and offers children a different way of learning maths skills You might want to follow a familiar trail with and using them. Maths trails encourage children strides or tiptoeing or three hops between each to work together as they look for and find symbol on the trail. Encourage children to use particular features, such as numbers or shapes or more precise maths words and discuss whether patterns. Make sure that any activities on the trail the trail they are making will be long or short, are as varied as possible, and if the route is one and how it goes around the tree and past the way that the finish is at an interesting space or climbing frame and under the bench. an unusual object. The last arrow could point Staff will find it useful to consider the relevant upwards for the children to observe an mathematical language beforehand so that unexpected ornament in a tree or bush. The you are ready to introduce it as natural scope of maths trails is endless and you can make opportunities arise. M AT H E M AT I C A L T H I N K I N G GROUNDS FOR LEARNING – 01786 445922
  5. 5. P L AY N O T E S**Curriculum Framework for children 3 to 5, Learning & Teaching Scotland 2001 “Through activities that involve sorting, matching, comparing, classifying and making patterns and sequences, children, often in play contexts, will develop their mathematical knowledge of number, measurement and shape”** Mathematical thinking links to all areas of the refining and practising their ideas as they put curriculum. In the trail ideas below, opportunities together their network of world knowledge, arise for opening up ideas to other areas composing their own sets of rules. Young children learn lots about maths through their Five different trails to set up senses and through movement, and play gives opportunities to repeat the same activities and Flag trail movements. There are repeated actions that Tie coloured material rags on a route that weaves most children engage in during play that support in and out around your outdoor area. Encourage their mathematical experiences. the children to make up their own route with These include: strips of coloured crepe paper or florist’s ribbon Collecting that is easy to tie. Young children are especially interested in Pebble path making collections of natural materials such as Lay a trail of large pebbles that lead to a treasure conkers, acorns leaves and sticks. Encourage this box with something to discover inside (or better by providing baskets and boxes for children to still, dig up). You could suggest that children lay make collections in. out their own pebble route for others to follow, or make a small world version. Arrow route Use twigs to make arrows and lay them on the ground for children to follow. Talk about trail markings of scouts, guides and trackers. Children could take it in turn to leave a message at the end of the trail or a wooden numeral to collect. Number trail Make a numeral trail for children to follow by choosing a number and suspending that same number along a wall and on the ground. Make the numerals in a range of materials, such as drawn in chalk, cut out of card or made from Mark making plastic or wood. Encourage the children to make Children begin to develop an understanding that their own number trails. a symbol can stand for something, and they Footprint path create their own symbols. Provide a chalk board Make a path of card footprints to encourage the or easel near games for scoring; lay some children to explore all parts of your outdoor flagstones for children environment. Cross two or three routes over to chalk or paint on; each other so that the children have to make encourage children to decisions about which route to take at the use fences and walls to crossings. display their drawn I Spy trail maps and writing; paint Take a selection of photographs of your outdoor a wall with magnetic environment and display them on a fence, asking paint and use large magnets to fix drawings, children to draw a map or describe where each directions and notices to it; paint a wall with photograph was taken. Or children could use blackboard paint for large scale chalking. their own photographs to make into an I Spy Hiding book. Children develop a sense of shape and space by hiding objects and finding them again. Encourage this by hiding objects in the sand area Supporting children’s or under stones or behind logs; organise a scavenger hunt; play games such as hunt the mathematical learning thimble. Provide lots of paper bags, handbags and large and small boxes for children to hide As adults, we all have ideas about how the world toys, collectables and themselves in. Provide a functions and we have formulated rules to deal selection of wheelbarrows, carts and trucks for with the world as we know it. We can adjust our children to play at packing up and moving to a rules as we pick up new information that doesn’t different area. Provide bags, cases and rucksacks quite fit into these rules. Children in the Early of different sizes, from the very small to the very Years spend a lot of time building, rehearsing, large scale. M AT H E M AT I C A L T H I N K I N G GROUNDS FOR LEARNING – www.gflscotland.org.uk
  6. 6. P L AY N O T E SReasoning BuildingChildren need opportunities to develop Children needreasoning skills through problem solving. Set up access to a largesituations that require children to puzzle things supply of buildingout, such as how to build a bridge over the sand materials so thatpit; how to sail the boat from this end of the tank they canto that; how to make a den with some blankets experiment andunder the picnic table. Children need access to a gain knowledgediversity of materials, a multi-sensory approach, about construction, solving problems such asand encouragement to explore ideas through how to build a tall tower, or how to make aplay. window in the wall of their house. Discuss how wide the arch needs to be for the truck to drive though, whether that block will fit between the doorposts, how heavy that brick is, and whether there are enough bricks to finish the wall. Using the whole body Young children often need to experience things with their whole body to get a true sense of it. They curl in a ball to show a small shape, they jump three times to get a sense of the number, they run round and round to get the feeling of a circle. Playing outside gives children the opportunity to develop meaning through physical feeling.PatterningChildren explore pattern in different ways, fromthe casual arranging of shapes, toys and artefactsto making large complicated patterns. There isoften a sense of symmetry about their patternmaking, which you can encourage by providingbalanced sets of materials. Young children alsooften make patterns of long, continuous lines ofobjects. Provide natural objects with whichchildren can make trails.About the authors: Useful booksSheila Ebbutt and Carole Skinner are both Maths Outdoors Carole Skinner, 2005, BEAMexperienced Early Years teachers and are founder Education, ISBN 1-903142-36-9members of the Early Childhood Mathematics Group. orderline: 01242 267945 www.beam.co.uk.They now work together at BEAM Education which isdedicated to promoting the teaching and learning of A Place to Learn: developing a stimulating learningmathematics as interesting, challenging and enjoyable. environment by Lewisham Early Years Advice & Resource Network. Includes a section on ‘developingResources mathematics in the outdoor area’ that offers many ideas.Outside Number Games resources box Includes e-mail: eys.advisers@lewisham.gov.ukcurriculum information and ideas for number games. tel: 020 8695 9806.£80.00 plus VAT from Early Excellence Supporting mathematical development in the Early Yearswww.earlyexcellence.com Tel: 01422 311314. Linda Pound, 1999, OUP, ISBN 0335-19887-2. Focuses on children’s mathematical thinking andBig Outdoor Maths Box successful learning. www.openup.co.uk or goodCollection of large-scale colourful mathematical bookshops.equipment for active maths outdoors and inside, notessuggesting ideas for enjoyable games and activities Useful websitesusing all of the resources. £225 plus VATBEAM (BE A Mathematician) Education www.beam.co.uktel: 01242 267945, Website of BEAM Education, an organisation offeringe-mail: beamorders@nelsonthornes.com consultancy, training and resources for mathematicsor view and buy online at www.beam.co.uk education, including Early Years. www.childrens-mathematics.co.ukOnline catalogue of multi-sensory resources for outdoor Children’s mathematics network website.play; includes many of the items suggested in this An international, grassroots network for practitionersPlaynotes. and students regarding children’s emergentMindstretchers Tel:01764 664409 mathematics through making marks.www.mindstretchers.co.uk M AT H E M AT I C A L T H I N K I N G GROUNDS FOR LEARNING – 01786 445922