This post is by regular contributor Debi Huang of Go Explore Nature.
My youngest son is in kindergarten, which means we spend a lot of time working with our ABCs and 123s. In addition to taking our reading and writing activities outdoors, I’m often looking for ways to combine math games with nature too.
Inspired by this lovely math picture game, I thought we’d try using numbers to make our own nature pictures. I love this activity for both its creativity and simplicity. As a bonus it requires nothing more than some natural elements, which you should be able to find right outside your front door.
Using Numbers to Make Nature Pictures
To get started, you’ll need to collect some natural elements. You can gather these on your own ahead of time, or you and your child can go on a nature walk together. Collect between 10 and 20 of each item. To minimize your impact on the natural environment, choose things that are already on the ground or readily available . Some ideas include rocks, sticks, blades of grass, leaves and flower petals.
Recommended age: 4+ years (the level of adult support will depend upon the age and development of the child)
1. Sort the collected materials so that like items are grouped together. For example, you may have a pile of leaves, another of sticks, another of seedpods and so on.
2. Ask your child to pick 10 of one type of item, say sticks, and then arrange the 10 items on the ground any way he or she likes.
3. Have your child count out 10 of another item, like leaves, and add those items to the arrangement. (Or you can try what we did, which is to count out different numbers of each item instead).
4. Repeat this process until at least some of each natural item has been added to the arrangement – or until your child feels like the nature picture is complete.
- Borrow a dice from a board game and roll the dice to decide how many of each material to use in the completed artwork.
- To take this game one step further, create a chart showing how many of each item was used to make the nature picture. You may discover that the number you originally asked for does not match the final count. For instance, my son broke several sticks in half to fit with his design, which meant he had more sticks in the end then what I originally asked him to count.
- For an added bonus, ask your child to name his or her masterpiece, then spell it out with natural materials.
Have you ever used nature to make learning math fun?
As part of a new series exploring fun ideas for learning math concepts outdoors, Debi is sharing another great counting in nature game over at Go Explore Nature today so be sure to check it out.