Maths - Planning to blaze a trail

22nd March 2013 at 00:00

What it's all about

Usually the first job of the day is to remove hats, coats and shoes. But this morning the children were told to stay wrapped up. They would be learning outdoors on a maths trail the Year 3s (P3s) had devised in the playground, writes Tony Cotton.

The P1s came along to try it out. The older children introduced it and then paired up with the younger ones to begin. Groups of four children moved to different areas of the playground. The bell rang and the teacher said: "Are you ready? Let the maths begin."

We worked on questions such as:

- How many planks of wood are on this fence?

- How many straight lines are on the playground? How many circles?

- What is the circumference of the biggest circle on the playground?

We were counting, doubling and halving, exploring number bonds, classifying shapes, looking at points of the compass, estimating distance and so much more.

This had taken some planning. Pairs of Year 3 children had been allocated sections of the playground and devised questions to make up the trail. They downloaded an app that allowed them to create QR (quick response) codes to be placed at appropriate points around the grounds.

Later, when a QR code was scanned to reveal a problem, the Year 3s helped the Year 1s to solve it.

After two minutes, a bell rang and we all moved on to find the next question. When we finished, the Year 3s said the Year 1s were "amazing mathematicians".

Tony Cotton is a writer and author of Understanding and Teaching Primary Mathematics.

What else?

Get children to locate activity stations using emmer88beetle's outdoor lesson plan. bit.lyCompassActivity.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today