Friday, October 16, 2015

Measuring Leaves Outdoor Math Activity

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Looking for a simple measuring activity? Try this measuring leaves outdoor math activity for kids.

Playing with fall leaves offers lots of learning opportunities for kids. For instance, you can observe and compare the color of leaves or discuss the science behind the color changing as you rake leaves. You can even use the leaves to learn about math concepts like counting, size, and measurement, which is our focus here, obviously.

Thankfully, it's been a warmer-than-usual October. In other words, it hasn't started snowing yet and we can actually still go outside in just a t-shirt. So, we headed outdoors to work on some math learning using the colorful fall leaves.

My boys had so much fun with this simple measuring leaves outdoor math activity. And it kept the boys busy for quite some time.

Measuring leaves outdoor math activity for kids

A version of this post originally appeared on the CBC Parents website.

What You'll Need for this Measuring Leaves Outdoor Math Activity

Here's what you'll need for this simple outdoor measuring activity:

  • Leaves of various sizes, shapes, and colors - You can go on a leaf scavenger hunt first to collect some leaves or measure the leaves as you find them.
  • Ruler
  • Piece of paper or a small notebook to track results and observations (optional)
  • Pencil or pen to track results and observations (optional)

That's all you need to get started with this activity. As you can see, it requires zero prep. Yet, it encourages lots of learning outdoors. It's also a good way to get outside for some fresh air and explore nature.

Fall leaves measuring activity for kids

An Outdoor Measuring Activity that's Perfect for Fall!

We did this measuring activity in our backyard where we have plenty of colorful leaves already on the ground. However, you can try this activity at a park or while hiking, if you'd prefer.

I simply handed the ruler to my oldest son and encouraged him to measure some leaves for me. I asked him, "How big of a leaf can you find? How big will it be?" Then he was on his way.

Close up of a child measuring leaves as part of a preschool measuring activity for fall

He would pick up a leaf, lay it flat on the ruler, measure it from stem to tip, and then declare the measurement. Alternatively, he could have measured the width of the leaf as well.

Close up of a child measuring leaves as part of an outdoor measuring activity for fall

Close up of a child measuring leaves as part of an outdoor math activity for autumn or fall

My son was happy and engaged just to look for leaves and measure them. He does have hypernumeracy after all and numbers are kind of his thing so I knew he'd love to simply measure the different leaves.

Suggestions for How to Extend this Simple Measuring Activity

Want to take this activity one step further? Here are some ways that you could extend the learning:

  • Record the measurements of the different leaves in a notebook
  • Measure different parts of the leaf (e.g., measure just the stem, width of the leaf, height of the leaf without the stem)
  • After measuring the leaf, do a leaf rubbing in a notebook using crayons and then record the measurement below the leaf rubbing
  • Keep a tally chart for the different colors of leaves that you find
  • In a notebook, draw pictures of the different leaves you find
  • Sort the different leaves by color into different piles (e.g., brown, orange, red, green, yellow)
  • Sort the different leaves by size into different piles (e.g., all leaves smaller than 3" in one pile and leaves bigger than 3" in another pile)
  • Rake leaves into piles and then measure the size of the pile - You may need a measuring tape instead of a ruler for this.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to extend this preschool measuring activity. You can include things like writing and art, for instance.

Regardless, this simple measuring leaves outdoor math activity is a fun activity to do at home with your kids or with a classroom of kids, if you're a teacher.

Measuring leaves outdoor math activity for kids