Math and Science on the Preschool Playground
Outdoor learning equipment that provides children with the opportunity to explore with natural sensory materials such as gravel and water are perfect for teaching math and science. Here at The Adventurous Child, where we design children’s outdoor play areas and sell outdoor playground equipment for preschools, we are always thinking about ways to use the outdoors for learning. Education doesn’t have to stop when the children run out the door to play on the preschool playground. We believe the playground can be an outdoor preschool classroom where children are learning, exploring, and discovering new and exciting things.
We have developed several pieces of preschool play equipment to encourage the exploration of math and science concepts on the preschool playground. One of these products is the Truck Pit which is filled with gravel. Having a Truck Pit or a gravel pit on the preschool playground or natural playscape is a great way to incorporate math. Children are already drawn to rocks and gravel and will naturally start sorting the gravel. For example, the children may sort the gravel by size, color, shape, or texture. In addition to sorting, gravel play also encourages the math concept of making patterns. Children can make patterns of alternating colors of rocks or may line up the rocks from smallest to largest. They can count the rocks in the pattern to incorporate more math. For both math and science learning, add a scale to your gravel pit and children can weigh the gravel and compare the weights of different sized rocks.
Adding a water feature such as Water Log Troughs or a sand and water table also adds to the math and science learning in the children’s outdoor play area. Water features allow children to experiment with flow, liquids vs. solids, sink vs. float, melting and freezing, making predictions and so on (all of which are science concepts). Bring math into the picture by adding measuring cups to scoop and measure the water.
Adding a creek to create a natural playground is a fun way to combine gravel play and water play. With a creek, the opportunities for exploration, discovery, and sensory play are endless. Rocks, gravel, sand, water – a creek brings all of these natural manipulatives to your natural playscape in one product for your children to enjoy.
Our Build-A-Creek kit allows for children to build their own creek. Having a creek on the natural preschool playground provides many learning opportunities, but think of all the learning taking place when the children build their own creek, from start to finish. The children start by scooping and packing down sand and then experimenting with the location and shape of the water channel. Next, children think of where to place the large, medium, and small rocks. Once the channel is shaped and all the rocks are in place, add a garden hose and the children can explore – digging, pouring, sifting, sorting, and rearranging with their own creek. Building the channel, observing flow of water, comparing sizes of rocks, it’s all math and science!
So math and science are purely indoor paper and pencil kinds of learning right? I don’t think so! There are so many fun ways to include math and science learning on the outdoor playground. Gravel and water play are just two of the ways to use materials from a natural playscape to encourage math and science exploration. Math and science are all around us, especially in the great outdoors! Visit our blog to learn more about what children are learning when they play outdoors.
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