Messy Maths Outdoors at Country Bumpkins Nursery!

Children working together to make the loose parts pattern symmetrical.  Gross motor skills developed as children move and manipulate the tyres.


The middle line created using a plank of wood.  
Adults carefully observing children’s play, supporting when necessary to extend and reinforce learning and new vocabulary.

Estimating lengths using loose parts.  The metre line rope acts as a guide to check if estimates are accurate.

Murray Mackay is an Early Years Practitioner supporting children’s play and learning at Country Bumpkins Nursery.  He is also one of the outdoor leaders taking part in ‘Laying the Trail for Outdoor Learning’ course with Highland Council.  Part of the work Murray has taken forward is to develop aspects of the curriculum outdoors.  Inspired by ideas from Juliet Robertson’s book,  ‘Messy Maths – A Playful, Outdoor Approach for Early Years’, Murray has reflected on his own practice and introduced some new approaches to support children’s play and learning outdoors.  Hear a bit more from him below as he shares some of the ideas taken forward in his setting:

Metre Length Line

‘We started this indoors, measuring a line of animals and foam bricks against the rope, before removing the rope and seeing if we could estimate the length! We then went outside and used stones and pine cones to do the same, using mathematical language to discuss if we needed ‘more’, ‘less’ or ‘it’s the same.’’


‘We have used planks and tyres to introduce the idea of symmetry out in the garden. We named the plank the ‘middle line’ and discussed how we wanted everything on either side of the plank to ‘be the same.’ I added one tyre to one side and asked the children if it was the same on the two sides, they quickly saw it wasn’t and with a little prompt they ran to get another tyre to make it equal! I stepped away at this point and just let the group move the tyres to either side: working on our theme of symmetry and measure as well as developing gross motor skills at the same time.’

Take a look at Creative Star Learning Ltd’s blog page for more ideas and inspiration to help you make the most of your outdoor spaces!

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