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Use the garden to teach maths and science

Information sheet

Use this guide to teach maths and science in the garden, in fun interactive ways. 

  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Maths, Science

Explore the garden with match colour cards
Sort materials according to texture. Look out of the window- what colours do you see? If you match the colour cards according to the colours found in nature there are many different shades of green and yellow and in the autumn the colours change from orange to red. Try the same activity again.

Discover texture by collecting leaves. Are they shiny, prickly, ribbed, hairy, rough, smooth or sticky? Make rough bark rubbings. Feel and compare contrasting textures using soft and hard objects such as feathery grasses and hard pebbles.

Use garden resources for different sorting activities
Collect different flowers, leaves or a mixture of objects to sort according to chosen characteristics- use hula hoops to do this. Further distinguish between living and non living things.

Draw a garden map and find the treasure
On a plan of the garden mark out a route with a treat at the end. This will encourage children to visualise and understand directions. Repeat the process in reverse.

Test the senses
Grow plants to stimulate taste, smell, sight and hearing. Run taste tests and vote for the sweetest fruit, then display the results as a bar chart. Grow herbs and roses for scent, vegetables and fruit for taste, brightly coloured foliage and flowers for sight, textured plants for touch and rustling bamboo and trees for sound.

Mini-beasts, habitats and food chains
Make a bug hotel from old pallets or make a smaller one from recycled materials. Look for habitats and evidence of food chains in your local environment. Find out about garden pests and their natural predators. Go on a bug hunt and use a key to recognise the creatures you find.

Micro-organisms, mini beasts and the compost heap
The compost heap is a unique habitat and is teaming with life. Study decomposition, learn that living things need oxygen so mix or turn the compost heap regularly. 

Explore the different parts of a plant
Dig up a weed such as a dandelion and study the plant parts. Pick a petal from a buttercup and see the nectary at its base.

Investigate environmental factors on plant growth
Conduct an experiement using the same plants or seeds but varying the amount of light, temperature and water you give each. Record the effects- what do the results tell you about what seeds need to grow?

Sort seeds into size. Look at the cost of a packet of seeds and work out how much per seed, then calculate the cost of sharing a packet between the class.

The circle of life
Sow berlotti beans, show them growing, then leave some to go to seed, store them over winter and then sow the following season. Make a pictorial diagram of this.

Maths based ideas

Look for 2D and 3D shapes
Explore reflective symmetry featuring leaves, butterflies, flowers and beetles. There are many circles and spheres found in nature but few squares or rectangles.

Where and how many angles can you see in the garden? There are the angles of branches, sundials, ramps, wigwams and the pitch of a roof or shed.

Make giant rulers and measure length, perimeter, height and area. Mark the ruler in multiples of 2, 5,10, etc. Measure a trowel and then use it to calculate the length of a bed or space out plants.

Count out large seeds, sow in numbers or count the number of bulbs you are planting.

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