Combining math and the great outdoors can be fun for kids. My 5 year old has recently enjoyed counting outside by making math pictures and going on a counting in nature scavenger hunt. Lately his kindergarten class has been talking about measurement – discussing which items are longer than or shorter than others, bigger or smaller, more or less. I thought it might be fun to take his learning outside and try measuring natural ingredients to “cook” something up. The result? His very own magic potion recipe!
Make a Magic ‘Mathematical’ Potion
For this activity you’ll need:
- A glass jar such as a Mason jar (though any clear container will work)
- Measuring cups, measuring spoons, funnel & other measuring instruments as desired
- Collection of natural items*
- Glitter (optional, but certainly adds to the magical effect)
- ‘Magic’ stirring stick
- Spray bottle
* Choosing the natural ingredients for your magic potion recipe can be an activity all on its own. Depending on the age of your child you may choose to gather some items in advance of the activity or collect them together.
Recommended age: 4+ years (the level of adult support will depend upon the age and development of the child)
This math game works best if children are left to choose which measuring utensil they prefer to use for each step and in which order they’d like to create their ‘recipe.’ The instructions and recipe below are merely an example of how this experience played out for us.
Children can practice their measuring skills when determining how much of each item to include in their potion. Encourage your child to add ingredients one at a time, talking together as they evaluate at each step whether more is needed to reach the desired look, smell, feel, etc. Each concoction will be as unique as its creator!
Our Magic Potion Recipe
- 5 pinches of each glitter – red, green, blue & pink
- 3 ½ cups of water
- 2 lemons, squeezed
- 3 rose petals
- 1 dandelion
- 3 bunches of pink flowers
- 1 purple flower
- 1 dried leaf
- 3 green leaves
1. Sprinkle in glitter.
2. Using a measuring cup, add water until the jar is about half full. This leaves room to add in the natural elements later. We found a funnel was helpful for this step.
3. Squeeze in a lemon or two for scent (any other fruit you might have on hand will work, too). Allow the juices to run through your fingers if desired.
4. Add in natural elements such as flower petals, leaves and sticks.
5. Stir with a “magic” stick. My son used a dead leaf, but a stick works perfect for this step, too.
6. Using a measuring cup, fill the jar completely with water, counting as you go. Stir, place lid on and shake as desired to achieve maximum magic power.
7. After the potion has settled, transfer it to a spray bottle so your child can spread the magic all around the garden or yard.
- Add food coloring or natural scents. Not only is this a further opportunity to practice measuring skills, it also adds to the magical experience.
- Depending on your child’s writing skills, you can invite him or her to write down the recipe.
- Try using natural materials to cook up something else, such as mud cakes or a mud pie.
What types of math games do your children enjoy playing outside?