So we may have the perfect weather for working outside, but how do you go about creating a maths trail? There are usually two choices for this: you can either create a trail that focuses on aspects of your outside space, or you can create (or use ) trails that are independent of your school space.
Outside Space Maths Trails
These can be created either by you or your pupils under your supervision.
They often focus on the areas of measurement and geometry, but number can also be incorporated quite easily. Older pupils can create these trails during lesson time and then lead a session where the trail is undertaken as a challenge by a class of younger pupils. Alternatively, a trail can be created by participants in a lunchtime or after-school maths club, and other pupils can be invited to take part as a lunchtime activity.
Suggestions for activities can include:
Diameters and circumferences of objects
Perimeters of marked areas or structures such as gazebos
Heights and lengths of objects
These can all be estimates or measuring equipment can be provided.
Pupils estimate how long it would take for them to run/walk/skip a number of times around the playground or field or several laps of a running track. The estimate could be based on carrying out the movement over a much shorter distance.
The temperature could be taken in various parts of the school grounds to see whether it varies and if so, by how much.
How many squares, triangles, trapezia, parallelograms can you see on the part of a gate or fence that has been marked? This could also include shapes within shapes as encountered on a chessboard.
If you are standing facing an object or structure and turn through a given angle or angles in a particular direction, where will you be facing?
What directions do you need to provide for your partner to move from point A to point B if they are only allowed to move in horizontal and vertical directions?
Many playgrounds have markings involving numbers such as hopscotch or a number grid which could be used for the following types of activities.
How many even/odd/prime/factors or multiples of certain numbers can be seen in a particular marking?
Will the total number be odd or even without adding the numbers? How do you know?
What is the quickest way to add the numbers to find the sum?
How many of a particular type of number can be visited by drawing a diagonal/vertical/horizontal line?
Find half/quarter/other fraction of the corner numbers/centre four numbers/ total of one side.
What fraction or percentage of the whole field length is the length of one tennis court?
Maths Trails that are Independent of your Outside Space.
These trails are more like the loop card activities that are often used during lessons and are sometimes referred to as maths treasure hunts. Maths activities are pinned up around the outside space (or indoors in the hall if it is raining), and the answer to each appears on one other activity. Pupils can therefore only find the next activity if they answer the previous one correctly.
Pupils work in pairs and start at different points to avoid too many people focusing on the same question at one time. It is worth having several copies of each activity for when more than one pair is working on an activity at the same time.
It is worth having an open-ended activity available for those who finish quickly.
These trails can focus on one topic or can be used to consolidate the learning over several topics given that the year has nearly ended.
For an example of a maths trail that is independent of your outside space, click here.
Whichever type of trail you use, pupils will be engaged while applying the maths that they have learnt throughout the year. So if you haven't tried a trail before, it's worth making use of the lovely weather and trying one in these last few weeks of term.