" 'Ideas to Help Children Learn Math When At the Park' [in] A Family Note on Finding the Math"

Families can use play at parks to teach children basic math concepts. Teaching teams including parents may learn how noticing patterns in nature and playing on playground equipment can help children count, recognize patterns and shapes, and use one-to-one correspondence.


The following is an excerpt from A Family Note on Finding the Math.

Here are some ideas to help children learn math when at the park.

Going to the park

squirel in a tree"There's a squirrel on the branch of the tree."
Spatial Sense—recognizing positions of objects

"Let's look for written numbers as we go to the park. What numbers do you see?"
Number—recognizing numerals

Encourage children to notice patterns in nature for example, the symmetrical patterns in leaves or the petals on a flower. Look for repeating patterns for example, the ridges and grooves of the bark on some trees. At the park, or coming or going, help children collect natural materials such as leaves, small sticks, or pebbles to use in making their own repeating or symmetrical patterns.
Patterns—recognizing and creating patterns

"First we go past Tina's house. Next, we turn right at the corner by the library. The park is close to the library."
Spatial Sense—learning about direction and location

On the play structure

slideEncourage your child to climb on play equipment, jump off a small step, walk backwards, or crawl through a tunnel.
Spatial Sense—recognizing position and direction

"Let's count the children on the swings. One, two, three, four!"

"The play structure has a round window. It looks like a circle. Do you see any other circles? Let's look around." "Let's make the same shape in the sand."
Geometry—recognizing shapes

Having a snack

crackersAsk your child to pass out the snack. "Will you pass out the snack? Each person gets a box of raisins."
Number—using one-to-one correspondence

Count the food items as they eat them. "I have four carrots. How many do you have? Do you have more than four carrots or fewer than four carrots?"
Number—counting and comparison

"What shape do you think the cracker is? It has four straight sides."
Geometry—identifying shapes

" 'Ideas to Help Children Learn Math When At the Park' [in] A Family Note on Finding the Math." National Head Start Family Literacy Center, Sonoma State University. 2004. English.

Last Reviewed: January 2010

Last Updated: August 11, 2015