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Muddy Faces

Pebble creature maths

Use pebble creatures to make outdoor maths activities more fun!

Art & Creating


* Muddy Faces actively promotes child-led outdoor play & learning. We recognise and believe in the curiosity that children have and their drive to explore and discover. We hope that you will bear this in mind when considering more prescribed activities like this one – often much more creative ideas will occur if resources are simply provided and children are given the time and space to explore independently.

NB The images used in this activity show plastic googly eyes - we do not recommend using these as part of the activity.

What you'll need

  • pebble creatures
  • acrylic pens
  • leaves and other natural materials
  • balance scales
  • jugs
  • tape measure

This activity has been provided by

Environmental Considerations

Consider the environmental impact of preparing, carrying out & completing this activity. Could this impact be reduced? Specific considerations for this activity could include:

  • leave no trace
  • use a non-toxic water based pigment to mark on the eyes

Health & Safety Considerations

Follow your usual operating procedures and carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments.
Some considerations particular to this activity include:


Create a bunch of pebble creatures.

Create a hook:

pebble aliens landed

Hide the creatures around your outdoor space and set up a scenario of an alien crash-landing or escape from a rock zoo.

With older children the scenario could be set up by explaining that a new species has been discovered nearby. Describe how the species looks then explain that the scientists need some help to find and record more specimens.

For younger children maybe have one pebble creature poking out nearby and ask the children if they have any idea what they may look like – see if anyone spots the one nearby. If it is found you can discuss it and what others may look like.

Generally when doing this sort of activity ask everyone to find one item each and then return to base, to prevent the more enthusiastic ones in the group from having lots, leaving others with none.

Once all the group has at least one then let them play and explore (splitting into groups if appropriate). Perhaps build houses or record the data the scientists need and see what they get up to.


pebble couting

Observe simple counting of the pebble creatures supporting one-to-one correspondence.

This activity could be developed by adding pebbles/leaves or cards with numbers on them, and just seeing what happens.

Does number recognition happen when collecting and counting naturally? Or does more creative learning take place?


pebble creatures sorted into colour piles

Does any sorting take place without prompts? – size, colour, weight, eye type, surface texture, etc.

What happens after the sorting has taken place?

Pattern making:

pebble in alternating pattern

Do you observe any patterns being created with the creatures?

What is being used in the pattern? – different coloured pebbles or eye colour or any repeating patterns?


pebble creature calculations

Introduce some mathematical symbols – these leaves have symbols drawn on with acrylic pens.

Does this lead to any calculating or even something more interesting?


weighing pebbles

Provide a balance scale and observe if any estimating and weighing occurs.

For more detailed scientific species identification provide a more accurate set of weighing scales.


measuring pebbles

Provide rulers and tape measures so diameters, heights and lengths can be recorded.


dropping a pebble creature into a jug of water to demonstrate displacement

Displacing water with pebbles is lots of fun!

Why not provide equipment to record volume, allowing pebble displacement to be explored in more detail?

Take it further:

Add some pebble creatures with acrylic pen eyes to your water area!

MFL216 Sum Building600


Get some inspiration from our Maths products - we have lots of wooden products.

Disclaimer: Muddy Faces cannot take any responsibility for accidents or damage that occurs as a result of following this activity.You are responsible for making sure the activity is conducted safely.

Key Features


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