You can find math everywhere - even when you are just out for a walk. Whether you and your child are walking to school, to a friend's house, or to the park, you can help your child engage in math in a way that is fun and educational.

TVOParents consulted with Marc Husband, an elementary school teacher and teacher educator, to create these tips on how to find math everywhere in your neighbourhood.

Geometry, Spatial and Number Sense

When out walking, take notice of all the different signs in your neighbourhood, and talk to your child about them - asking questions works best.

  • Counting and sorting. How many stop signs can you count? How many other signs can you count? What’s the total number of signs?
  • Shapes in traffic signs. What do you already know about the shape of a stop sign? Is it 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional? How many sides does it have? How many corners does it have? What other shapes can make this shape? Semi-circle? Rectangle? Square? Triangle?
  • “What if?” What if we placed a speed limit sign on top of a stop sign, would the sign be bigger? Smaller? How many of these signs could fit into that sign?
Measurement, Data Management and Probability

Before you start your walk, note the time and track how long it takes to get to your destination.

  • Measurement using time or steps. How could we measure this distance? By steps? By time? How many hours did it take? Minutes? Seconds?
  • Estimating. Take a different route. Can your child estimate how long it will take? Will it take more time or less time? More steps or fewer steps? Be sure your child explains why his or her estimate is larger or smaller.
  • “What if?” What if we counted the number of signs you saw on the first route and compared the number of signs with a different route? Can you estimate the number of signs the second route has? Be sure your child explains why the estimate is larger or smaller.
Patterns, Probability and Algebra

Look down at the sidewalk. What do you notice?

  • Patterns. What patterns do you notice in the concrete slabs? What shape are they? Are they the same size? Different?
  • Estimating. How many sidewalk slabs are there in front of your house? If there are 10 concrete slabs in front of your house, and the houses on your street are the same size with the same number of sidewalk concrete slabs, can your child calculate the number of concrete slabs there are on your street? What about on another street? 
  • “What if?” What if we estimated the number of concrete slabs in your neighbourhood? How would you calculate the number? By the number of concrete slabs per house? By the number of concrete slabs per street? Be sure to ask your child to explain his or her answer.
What Your Child Will Learn:
  • Different ways to think about and do math.
  • Curriculum - these activities touch on the five strands of the Ontario elementary math curriculum: number sense and numeration, measurement, geometry and spatial sense, patterning and algebra, and data management and probability.
  • Math skills like problem solving, reasoning and proving, selecting tools and computational strategies, reflecting, connecting, representing and communicating.
  • That math is everywhere, and fun!