You can find math everywhere - even when you are just at the local playground. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big playground or a small one, you can help your child engage in math in a way that is fun and educational.
We consulted with Marc Husband, an elementary school teacher and teacher educator, to create these tips on how to find math everywhere at the playground.
Shapes, Geometry and Number Sense
Playgrounds are full of different shapes, from the play equipment to the natural environment. Talk to your child about all the different shapes you see – asking questions works best.
- 2-Dimensional Shapes. What shapes do you see? Which are 2-dimensional? Circles, triangles, squares, rectangles? Once your child has identified a shape, ask questions like: What other shapes can this triangle make? What shapes can fit into this rectangle?
- 3-Dimensional Figures. What 3-dimensional figures do you see? What makes them 3-dimensional? Do you see any 2-dimensional shapes in any 3-dimensional figures?
- Counting and Sorting. How many 2-dimensional shapes can you count? How many 3-dimensional figures can you count? How many squares are there in this cube? How many circles are in this cone?
- "What if?" What if we took two shapes and put them together? What new shapes or structures can you create? Be sure to ask your child to explain his or her answer.
Right Angles, Acute Angles, Obtuse Angles and Geometry
If there are many shapes, there are also probably a lot of angles. Ask your child questions about the different angles you see.
- Right angles. What angles do you notice? Can you spot a 90 degree angle or what’s called a right angle? Do you see any more? How can you describe a right angle? (Suggest using an index finger and thumb to make a 90 degree angle.) What shapes have right angles? Squares, rectangles, some triangles?
- Acute and obtuse angles. Can you spot angles that are more than 90 degrees. What are these called? (obtuse angles) Can you spot angles that are less than 90 degrees? What are these called? (acute angles) Can you spot a 45 degree angle? Can you create these angles with your fingers?
- "What if?" What if we changed the degree of angles on different shapes? What new shapes can you create?
Symmetry, Geometry and Spatial Sense
The playground is also full of symmetrical shapes and patterns. Ask your child to spot them and ask questions about them.
- Symmetrical patterns and shapes. What shapes are symmetrical? What are not symmetrical? How can you check to see if a shape is symmetrical? Can your child locate a line of symmetry? Is there another line of symmetry? Can your child explain?
- Patterns. Are there patterns in the playground equipment that are symmetrical? For example, you may find symmetry in an Xs and Os game, a ladder, or a pattern in the play structure. How many lines of symmetry can you count? Where are they?
- "What if?" What if there are shapes or patterns that are asymmetrical? What would you need to add or subtract to make them symmetrical?
What Your Child Will Learn:
- Different ways to think about and do math.
- Curriculum - these activities touch on the five strands of the Ontario elementary math curriculum: number sense and numeration, measurement, geometry and spatial sense, patterning and algebra, and data management and probability.
- Math skills like problem solving, reasoning and proving, selecting tools and computational strategies, reflecting, connecting, representing and communicating.
- That math is everywhere, and fun!