Math in the woods? How can that happen? Nature can help us do math? What does being outside have to do with math? These questions were just a few out of the mouths of 1st graders at the beginning of the year. These questions have evolved into look at these leaves, they make a pattern! Wow! Look at that log, I bet it would take at least 50 pinecones to get from one end to the other. You found 5 worms and I found 2. I need 3 more to catch up to you! My students went from wondering how we could find and do math in nature to doing it naturally and recognizing that they are using their math skills outside of the classroom. Real world, connections have opened a new door of learning for them.
After a discussion about all the math we have learned and math that we have seen in nature we brainstormed about other things we can do. We talked about patterns and how we can use nature to make different patterns. Children came up with color patterns, shape patterns, different object patterns, and so much more out in the woods. They worked in partners to create a pattern with nature and to see if other groups could continue their pattern. We had so many great patterns and so much team work that went into collecting and making simple and more complex patterns.
As we wrapped up the activity, I dismissed the kids for free play before we go back to the building. To my surprise the kids continued to collect and make patterns on their own. Their awareness to math in nature has grown tremendously and so has their love for math. After I noticed a group of students still doing patterns, one of them said it perfectly, I didn’t know I actually like math!
Karri Hall, Meroby Elementary, Grade 1