Math Garden Activities: Using Gardens To Teach Math To Kids
The following are some ideas for math garden activities for kids. You can use these ideas with your own children or even adults. These activities have been used successfully at our home.
Some of them are easy, others require a little creativity but all of them will make learning math fun!
1. Play a game with your child.
For example, play a game where you need to count up from 1 to 10 in order to win. Or you could have your child draw pictures of numbers from 0-9 and then write down their answers on a piece of paper so they can see how many there are.
2. Have your child do simple addition problems like 2 + 3 = 6 and 4 – 7 = 12 .
Your child might want to add a few new numbers together, or maybe they just want to practice adding 1 and 2.
3. Have your child build a tower out of blocks.
They could start with one block and work their way up to building a big structure like the Eiffel Tower. You could also have them make towers out of smaller pieces such as cubes or circles (or any other shape).
4. Use a measuring tape to measure objects around your house.
For example, you could measure the height of your children or even the length of your dining room table (or any other long object).
5. Have your child practice counting by fives, tens, or any other measurement.
Start by having them count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and then have them count to 20 by fives; then 25 by fives and so on. If your child is old enough, you can even have them count by 10’s or 100’s.
6. Use colors of paint to represent different numbers.
For example, red could be 1, yellow could be 2, green could be 3 and so on. You could also do this with play dough by using different colors.
7. Have your child help you plant a flower or vegetable garden.
You could use your math from above to determine how much of each kind of seed to get, and how far apart to space out each kind. While you are planting the seeds or after they have sprouted, you could use a measuring tape to measure the distance between plants. Then you could measure the height and width of each plant when it grows.
8. You can also do some simple measuring when you water the plants by using a measuring cup or a watering can.
For example, you can make sure each plant gets watered exactly 3 cups of water.
9. You could also measure the height of each plant every week or month using a measuring tape.
10. You could measure the circumference and height of each plant once it starts growing (you could also do this with trees when you go on a nature walk). Then you could fill out a table with the data (see an example below).
11. Have your child practice drawing shapes such as circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, and more. They could draw them freehand or use tools such as cups, washers, or coins to create the different shapes.
12. Cut out pictures of shapes from magazines or catalogs. Have your child arrange the pieces into a scene.
For example, they could arrange the circle pieces to look like the moon, the square pieces to look like a house, the triangle pieces to look like a tree, and so on.
13. You could also cut out pictures of objects (such as animals). Then have your child glue the pieces on a piece of paper to make a collage.
Have them draw a line to connect two objects they consider similar (such as a cat and a dog).
14. Have your child put together a simple puzzle such as a jigsaw puzzle with fewer than 500 pieces.
15. Buy a bucket of bouncy ball toys or some squishy inflated toys and have your child estimate how many they think would fit inside. Then they could actually fill the bucket up with the different sized bouncy or squishy toys to see if they were right.
16. Buy a pack of glow in the dark stars. Then have your child arrange them on a piece of black paper to make a picture.
They could estimate how many they think they’ll need then actually fill up the entire piece of paper to see if they were right.
17. You can also have your child use a cracker pack of markers to color between two lines that you create with tape (you could make shapes, letters, numbers, etc). You could also do this with a pack of crayons.
18. Have your child lay out a collection of washers, marbles, or other small objects to create a design (they could try to copy one you make or come up with their own design).
19. You could buy some straws and have your child put them together to make a particular shape (such as a heart, star, letter, number, etc).
20. You could buy a unifix cube and have your child try to build it within a certain amount of turns. Then have them try to beat their own record.
21. You could buy a kaleidoscope at a toy store (or you might even have one around the house). Then have your child find something specific on each page of the kaleidoscope book that comes with it.
For example, if there’s a picture of the moon, have them find the moon in the kaleidoscope. If there’s a sunset, have them find that, and so on.
22. You could buy a fidget cube or ball and have your child roll or flip it while sitting at the table during meals.
23. Look for other toys and gadgets at toy stores or online that are designed to help people stay focused.
24. Have your child sit at the table and play a game where they have to bounce a quarter into a glass. Give them a number of tries based on their age (so if they’re 5, give them 5 tries).
If they make it in, they get another try. If they reach a certain number of tries (or a certain amount of time), you could reward them with a trip to the park, a movie, or some other fun activity.
25. Brain training apps: There are a number of brain training apps out there that claim to help people stay focused, raise their IQ, and other things. While the jury is still out as far as many of these apps actually work, they could make for a fun way to pass the time.
26. Have your child give you five examples of things that begin with each letter of the alphabet (for example: Apple, Ball, Car, Church, Cat).
27. Have your child imitate a physical activity you do (such as clapping, hopping, etc).
28. Have your child imitate a dance you do (again, pick one they can imitate easily with the knowledge they have of what they know how to do already).
29. While driving in the car, have your child find things that are the color red or things that are purple (this will work for any color).
30. Using a map, have your child find where you are on the map. Then have them tell you where other places are that you’re going to be near (such as gas stations, restaurants, parks, etc).
31. While in the car, have your child find shapes in the clouds.
32. While in the car and using a map, have your child give directions on how to get somewhere.
33. While in the car and using a map, have your child tell you what traffic lights are currently red and which are currently green.
34. While in the car, have your child find different landmarks (skyscrapers, bridges, monuments, factories, etc).
35. Have your child memorize a poem or short saying (and be sure to explain it thoroughly so they understand it).
36. Have your child point out if an event occurred in the past, present, or future (for example, if I was eating an apple right now, that would be happening in the present. If I was done with the apple, that would be the past.
If I was about to eat it, that would be the future).
37. Have your child differentiate between when they’re hungry, when they’re bored, and when they’re tired (for example, if they want to eat but they aren’t really hungry, that’s just boredom. If they’re hungry but they’re not really excited to eat, that’s just laziness.
If they’re hungry and excited to eat, that’s a combination of all of that).
38. Look up the history of your town or city and point out buildings in your town or city to show their age.
39. Have your child point out which of a list of animals (such as birds, fish, mammals, etc) would most likely be found in your area. For example, you might be in town, so a falcon or dove would be correct.
You might be near a river, so a sturgeon or trout would be more correct. If you were in the forest, you might see a grey wolf or a black bear.
40. Play memory games (either with pictures you find or images you take with your phone).
41. Take turns picking a topic and have the other person tell you facts about it.
42. Put together a list of “
I Have, Who Has” statements (for example: “I have played on a sports team, who has played on a sports team?”
43. Put together a list of “Categories” (for example: Category: States, Category: Drinks, Category: Colors, Category: Monkeys, etc).
44. Have your child take a written test on their interests (such as animals, cars, colors, etc).
45. Play word games (such as word unscramble, hanger puzzles, etc).
46. Play hangman.
47. Go on Britannica Kids and look up facts on various animals, plants, rocks, people, movies, etc.
48. Make your own dioramas and then share with each other about the process of making them (for example: making a jungle or underwater scene with stuffed animals and models).
49. Do arts and crafts projects together (such as painting, drawing, coloring, cutting and pasting, etc).
50. Make a recipe book together.
51. Do science experiments together (such as putting a lemon in a glass of water to see if it changes the color of the water, putting vinegar and baking soda together to make it get all fizzy, etc).
52. Have your child tell you about their favorite characters from books they’ve read.
53. Have your child tell you about their favorite characters from movies they’ve seen.
54. Make a list of your favorite foods.
55. Make a list of your favorite songs.
56. Make a list of your favorite movies.
57. Make a list of your favorite books.
58. Go on Google Earth and find different locations (either where you live or other places).
59. On Wikipedia, have your child look up various animals, plants, rocks, people, movies, etc. and read about them together.
60. Look up your favorite movies or TV shows on IMDB and read trivia about them.
61. Go to Google Dictionary and look up words together and try to figure out their meanings (this helps expand your child’s vocabulary and teaches them how to use a dictionary effectively).
62. Put on your favorite music and dance together.
63. Have a scavenger hunt (either within your house, in the yard, at a park, etc).
64. Look up recipes and make something new to eat (new dishes that you’ve never tried before are always fun to make and eat).
65. Do crafts and make something new (either on your own or something as a family).
66. Play with play-doh and make something (you can either make something from scratch or re-create something, such as a famous building).
67. Go to the zoo or a wildlife sanctuary.
68. Have a “science day” and focus on a particular science (such as botany, zoology, anatomy, etc).
69. Go to the library and browse the stacks together.
70. Go to a museum or art gallery.
71. Go out to eat at a restaurant and let your child order something they’ve never tried before. (If they are picky, try tempting them with the children’s menu).
72. Check out toys stores and look at all the latest toys that have been released.
73. Take a trip to a factory or industrial area.
74. Go to an amusement park or carnival.
75. Have a “stay in touch with friends and family day” where you call, email, visit, or write to your friends and family.
76. Bake cookies or a cake.
77. Go to the library and take out books (either fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, magazines, etc).
78. Go on a field trip around your town with your child to learn about local history or see famous landmarks and attractions.
Sources & references used in this article:
Effects of a gardening program on the academic progress of third, fourth, and fifth grade math and science students by AE Pigg, TM Waliczek, JM Zajicek – HortTechnology, 2006 – journals.ashs.org
Mathematics instruction developed from a garden theme by M Civil, LH Khan – Teaching Children Mathematics, 2001 – go.gale.com
School gardens enhance academic performance and dietary outcomes in children by CK Berezowitz, AB Bontrager Yoder… – Journal of School …, 2015 – Wiley Online Library
The child in the garden: An evaluative review of the benefits of school gardening by D Blair – The journal of environmental education, 2009 – Taylor & Francis
California teachers perceive school gardens as an effective nutritional tool to promote healthful eating habits by H Graham, S Zidenberg-Cherr – Journal of the American Dietetic …, 2005 – Elsevier
Building on community knowledge: An avenue to equity in mathematics education by M Civil – Improving access to mathematics: Diversity and equity …, 2007 – Citeseer