by Hazel Stark
If you’ve been anywhere in the northeast this spring, you know that it has been cool and rainy! The 1st and 2nd-graders at Jonesport Elementary School, however, hardly seemed to notice. They spent five Friday afternoons from late March to early May 2019 learning about “Nature’s Numbers: How can math teach us about nature?”
To both meet some math standards and encourage outdoor exploration and fun during this Forest Fridays series, students practiced using their four science senses in the pouring rain on day one. They counted how many different things they could discover in groups which each focused on exploring using a different sense: hearing, looking, touching, and smelling.
The following week, they honed those observation skills by doing a science project where they compared the numbers of living and non-living things in the woods and discussed whether that would change with the seasons (their hypothesis: there would be more living things in the summer).
They then moved onto acting out different life cycle stages and counting how many stages they could find outdoors in early April and considered the best shapes that would make ideal habitats for different living things by building differently shaped habitats to test their ideas.
From counting and addition to geometry and science projects, these 1st and 2nd-graders had a lot of fun learning about math outdoors. As one student wrote at the end of the program series, “It’s so fun to play outside and do math!”