Pebble creature maths

July 18, 2018

Use pebble creatures to make outdoor maths activities more fun!

pebble creatures and leaves with addition and subtraction symbols
Author: Muddy Faces

Age Range: all ages

Duration: 1-2 hours

Location: anywhere

Time Of Day: any time

Season: any

Tags: maths, measure, numeracy, pebbles/stones, scenario, sorting

Category: curriculum outdoors


Often the most interesting learning can occur through play, when children have the opportunity to explore, experiment and pose questions to seek answers.
We would always suggest a child-led approach to learning, where adults become observers and recognise the learning that is taking place during the play, giving guidance when asked or where we may feel it is necessary.
Below are some suggested areas to specifically observe mathematical learning and a couple of prompts to encourage deeper exploration of maths.

Important note

If using sticky eyes in your outdoor setting use paper ones rather than plastic.
Paper sticky eyes are white so you can see them on the ground if they fall off, thus helping with a ‘leave no trace’ approach to being outdoors.
Plastic googly eyes are best left at home as, if lost and left behind, they can have a detrimental impact on the environment.

three pebbles with eyes stickers, acrylic pen eyes and googly eyes


Create a bunch of pebble creatures.

pebble creatures with eyes sorted into colour piles


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?



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

What happens after the sorting has taken place?

pebble creatures with eyes sorted into colour piles

Pattern making

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 creatures with eyes lined up white black repeating pattern


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

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


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.




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


Displacing water with pebbles is lots of fun!

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

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