Outdoor Math: Yard Work

In the last post in our series on outdoor math, examples will include how to incorporate completing yard work with math practice. While the activities covered in our previous posts were fun from the start, these activities are more helpful and possibly related to chores, but can still be a lot of fun for children. Yard work doesn’t always have to be boring and these activities will help you to have fun in the yard while practicing math. Having fun with math by doing yard work, that’s a parent/child win/win!

  • Mulch Weekend Math – As a child, we had a yearly event called “mulch weekend” where everyone had to pitch in to shovel and lay the mulch in all of the garden beds or to create paths across the backyard gardens.. Sounds like fun, right? Well, you can make it more interesting if you start a competition that can incorporate math. How many shovels will it take to fill the wheel barrow, how many steps can you make it to the next spot where a pile of mulch must be laid, how few strokes of the rake will it take to smooth it out? These ideas all incorporate counting. To add time into the mix, you can time how long it takes to shovel, fill, and place the mulch and turn it into a competition. It helps to get the task done, makes it more fun, and incorporates math skills all at the same time!
  • Redesigning Math – Another way to incorporate math into yard work is to have your child draw and diagram either the way your yard is laid out now, or possibly new ideas for a redesigned back yard. This incorporates math skills including geometry and measurement. You can provide them with grid paper, pencils, a measuring tape, a ruler, and a compass to get them started. They can then measure current landscape beds, the width of the yard, where the swing set is, or even the perimeter of your pool. Once they layout your current yard, you could challenge them to create a newly envisioned backyard with their own design. Depending on their abilities, you can have them figure out perimeter, area, or shapes of the various features of your yard.
  • Gardening – Gardening and math definitely go hand in hand and is a fun yard work related activity. To plan your summer garden appropriately, it will take some time, effort, and research. Checking out com and other online resources along with a visit to your local nursery will help in your planning, planting, and harvesting needs. Math can be incorporating in the building of beds or decisions on pots (how much room do you have, what perimeters), determining the plants that grow best in your area (including temperatures, amount of water and sunlight), planting (how much soil will you need), and care and maintenance (how much plant food do the plants need, when to schedule weeding). Here are many math connections by kidsgardening.com that you can incorporate as an ongoing and delicious math experience for your child.

What other math activities can you think of that yard work fun this summer? Feel free to share and comment below.

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