Pebble creature maths
Use pebble creatures to make outdoor maths activities more fun!
Age Range: all ages
Duration: 1-2 hours
Time Of Day: any time
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.
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.
Create a hook
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.
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?
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?
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?