Maths Outdoors: Scavenger Shape Hunt

Preview Shape Hunt

Have you heard of 30 Days Wild? It's an annual challenge, run by the UK Wildlife Trusts during the month of June, to encourage people to spend more time outside and engage with nature. We've been taking part over on Twitter, sharing some simple ideas for enjoying maths outdoors, but today we wanted to tell you a bit more about one of our favourite outdoor maths activities - a scavenger shape hunt! This is a simple yet effective way for early learners to start recognising shapes in the world around them, and to learn their names.

Whether you live in a rural or an urban area, head outside for a walk around your local neighbourhood to see what shapes you can discover. Some will be easier to spot than others. In the countryside, look out for leaves or petals of plants, details of buildings or fences, and way markers. If you live in the city, you can find a lot of different shapes hidden among traffic and street signs, road markings, or architectural features.

We went on a lunch time walk around our office, and these are some of the shapes we found:

Shape hunt example: rectangle, triangle, trapezium, circle, heart, octagon, square, hexagon, pentagon

This is a great activity to do both with individual children, for example in a family setting, or with larger groups such as school classes. Prepare a sheet for each child or group, with pictures and names of the different shapes so that the children know what to look for. Here is a suggestion of shapes you could include:

  • Square
  • Triangle
  • Rectangle
  • Circle
  • Semi Circle
  • Oval
  • Pentagon
  • Hexagon
  • Octagon
  • Rhombus
  • Trapezium
  • Heart
  • Star

Then arm everyone with clipboards and pencils, and off you go! There are different ways children can record what they find. They could simply just tick off each shape as they find it. They could draw what they find for each shape. Or, if there is an adult in the group who has a camera, you could take photos of each shape you find.

If you have older children, challenge them to find symmetrical shapes with one or two lines of symmetry.

Depending how many of you there are, you could also split up in to smaller groups and have a competition to see who finds all the shapes first, or who finds the most shapes. Then compare your notes afterwards - which shapes did you record the same things for, and which are different? Which ones were the hardest to find?

If you head out on a scavenger shape hunt, we’d love to see what shapes you find, so please feel free to share them with us on Twitter and tag us in. You can find us at @mathsweekscot.

You can also find some more suggestions for fun outdoor maths activities in our Maths Weeks Scotland Activity Packs, which are available for four different age groups.

Keep your eyes peeled for the new Activity Packs for Maths Week Scotland 2022 available from July 2022.

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