“Wait, we are going outside for math, and you don’t want us to bring anything with us?!”
Without any pre teaching I asked my students to put their materials down, grab their jackets, and meet me by the back door. As we entered the playground I instructed them to find natural objects (mass quantity) to help us build an array.
As they quickly collected materials I was amazed by their thought process while they worked together to build their first array. They were given the numbers 7 and 5 to use.
“Should we use these sticks to outline our array to make it more clear?”
“Do you want to set it up using 5×7 or 7×5?”
Working together the students created an array using rocks to show 7×5=35.
The students were then asked to design their own array. In order to show mastery they needed to show a different multiplication problem and try to find another natural object to display their array. The students excitedly ran through the woods and across the playground to find more objects to complete the task.
After reflecting on the process of building arrays and how we can use natural objects to learn math outside the students shared;
“Wow, who knew multiplication could be so fun”
“I love going outside, can we try to do this more!”
Still, weeks later the kids talk about building arrays outside using natural object and not paper and pencil with their peers and other staff.
Johanna Bartlett, Kingfield Elementary School, Special Education Teacher