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Learning Maths Outside the Classroom - Surveys in the School Locality

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 28 July 2008 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 21 October 2010 by ncetm_administrator

School GroundsSchool Grounds

Surveys in the School Locality

Incorporating maths into a geography topic
After finding out about the NCETM Teaching Maths Outside Project I was keen to work on a project of my own. I am currently teaching in a Year 1 class of 25 pupils at St Mary’s RCVA Primary school in Newton Aycliffe. Children’s Geography Topic at the time, How Can we Make our Local Area Safer incorporated several opportunities for completing Maths activities outside, such as a traffic survey and a parking investigation. I decided to use this opportunity to incorporate the topic into Maths teaching for the week around Handling Data and Measures and the teaching of Maths Outside.

I planned a number of outdoor Maths activities. Firstly children completed a traffic survey developing their skills for gathering data using a Tally chart.

I also planned a Maths morning in which children went in small groups to the local Tesco store to complete a parking survey. Key maths skills included finding the correct area located on a map, counting the number of cars in each area and recording these. On return to school we recorded their results into a graphing programme on the computer. During the morning children took part in a measures problem solving activity in groups. Children had previously learnt about measures and had some experience of problem solving. The intention was to allow children the opportunity to use these skills to consolidate their understanding in a practical, hands on manner by measuring every day objects and areas that they encounter in their school playground.

Learning, Assessment and Children’s Reactions
The children were very excited to complete these outdoor activities. They worked well in groups and were on task and motivated. Using real life situations beyond the classroom allowed them to apply the skills that they had learnt within the classroom. I have found that children of this age group when learning Maths in a particular way sometimes associate their learning only with the stimulus provided. I felt that using the outdoor activities worked well to apply their understanding and relate it to everyday experiences. For the majority of the activities, children were encouraged to work in small groups, this developed team work and cooperation.

For problem solving activities it worked well for them to talk through ideas together before applying these to measuring.

This also gave me the perfect opportunity to assess their understanding of the Maths objectives. For example I was able to stand back and assess which children could reason through problems effectively and apply their measuring skills accurately.

The activities allowed me to incorporate several objectives, including problem solving, measuring and data handling into a small number of activities, making links for children between different areas of their learning. For example, using the Maths outside activities enabled their learning of their Geography topic to come alive. Children stated that they had fun outside and on return to the classroom were keen to share their experiences with others.

Children really enjoyed completing these activities outside and I felt that it allowed them the opportunity to really apply their learning within Maths.

There is a need for carefully planned activities when working with younger children and to have good adult support. For example when completing the measuring problem solving activities, there were only 2 adults to support the children. It may have been better to have smaller numbers of children with more adult support to really enhance their learning.

However on the whole I feel that learning outside the classroom made the learning more stimulating, enjoyable and relatable for the children. It can be easily integrated into several areas of the curriculum, which is evident within the cross curricular activities as outlined in this project. Teaching Maths Outside is something that I will continue to incorporate into my planning to enhance children’s learning and enjoyment within Maths. 


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