Outdoor

Outdoor fractions

by Amy Collins February 22, 2021

There are so many great opportunities to take maths outdoors. This activity focuses on fractions, using natural materials and manipulatives to create a fractions wall.

Outdoor Fractions

– work outdoors using natural materials and manipulatives to create a fractions wall.

Learning outcomes

You will be able to:

  • Create your own fractions wall using natural materials
  • Find simple fractions of objects, numbers and quantities
  • Recognise, find and name a half as one of two equal parts
  • Recognise, find and name a quarter as one of four equal parts
  • Write simple fractions

You will need (per pair or small group):

  • 1 x Gratnells art (A1) tray (optional – you could use the playground or a tarmacked area instead)
  • 1 x Gratnells SortED module (blue or green) per participant
  • 6 x Reasonably straight sticks or canes of equal length (around 30 to 40cm each)
  • 4 x Reasonably straight sticks or canes of equal length (should be one-third of the length of the longer sticks)
  • 4 to 100 x Small, fallen, natural manipulatives e.g. stones, pebbles, conkers, acorns, small leaves (as many as you would like the participants to be able to find fractions of)
  • 1 x Chalk stick if using the play ground or white-board pen if using an art tray
  • 1 x Ruler (optional if needed to help find the length of the sticks)

For session leader or supervised use (per class)

  • 2 x Garden secateurs

Preparation:

  • Find a suitable, safe, outdoor space that contains plenty of fallen sticks or thin branches and lots of natural manipulatives such as stones, pebbles, conkers, acorns and fallen leaves.
  • Allocate participants to partners or small groups who they usually sit with in the classroom to help limit the number of close contacts where possible. It is also possible to do this activity individually if you have sufficient natural resources.

What to do:

  • Task the participants to work in their pairs or small groups to search in a defined area of outdoor space to find and collect
  • 6 x Reasonably straight sticks or canes of equal length (around 30 to 40cm each)
  • 4 x Reasonably straight sticks or canes of equal length (should be one-third of the length of the longer sticks)
  • Each pair or group should use their sticks to create a fractions wall either on a playground or area of tarmac or inside an art tray (see photographs showing the fractions wall inside a yellow art tray). Ensure each pair/group is spaced at least 2m apart and pair/group children with those they usually sit with indoors to limit the number of close contacts where possible. Form an arc shape of groups if possible to make moving along them easier for the supervising adults.
  • Trim sticks using the secateurs if necessary, it may be possible to just snap them to get the right lengths.
  • Ask the participants to label or mark the fractions wall in some way so they know which is theirs.
  • Give each participant a green or blue SortED module and a defined search area, task them with collecting as many fallen natural manipulatives, e.g. stones, pebbles, conkers, acorns, small leaves, as they can into their module.
  • Bring the groups back together at their fractions walls.
  • Ask the groups to complete a set of fractions tasks suitable for their age/ability for example:
  • Write a 1 in the big section, ½ in each of the two sections in the middle row and ¼ in each of the four sections on the bottom row.
  • Put eight stones or other natural manipulatives they have collected into the top section, how many stones should the place in the sections labelled ½? How many in each section labelled ¼?
  • Put x stones in the top section and repeat the above exercise. Repeat for different numbers of stones as needed for age/ability of the participants.
  • If there were two stones in each of the sections marked ¼, how many should there be in the other sections above? Repeat for different numbers of stones as needed for age/ability of the participants.
  • Take photographs to evidence their work for each stage and task.

Top Tip: If your grounds don’t have enough sticks to make this activity possible, you can draw the fractions walls on the playground, area of tarmac or in the art tray using chalk or a white-board pen respectively.

Other things to try…

  • Use the natural materials and chalk for other outdoor maths activities such as number bonds, part-part-whole challenges or algebra.
  • Share your photographs on social media using #LROutdoors and #WhatsInMyTray

Curriculum links:

The national curriculum in England. Key stages 1 and 2 framework document. 2013.

  • Year 1. Maths. Number – multiplication and division.
  • Year 1. Maths. Number – fractions.
  • Year 2. Maths. Number – fractions.
  • Year 3. Maths. Number – fractions.

Health & Safety

As with all Gratnells Learning Rooms What’s in my tray? activities, you should carry out your own risk assessment prior to undertaking any of the activities or demonstrations. In particular, areas of broken skin should be covered to reduce exposure to soil and water-borne pathogens and hands should be washed after handling natural manipulatives. Consult your own risk assessments in relation to COVID-safe activities and social distancing requirements for your setting.