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Outdoor lesson ideas using playground equipment

Outdoor lesson ideas using playground equipment

We all know that getting outside is so beneficial for our mental health and wellbeing as well as a crucial part of children’s development. How can we introduce outdoor learning with play equipment?

Taking lessons outdoors is so beneficial and, even though indoor lessons are vitally important for child development, bringing lessons outside is becoming increasingly popular; outdoor learning areas help encourage whole class outdoor learning and can encourage role play, increase emotional development, social skills and all importantly gets kids into the great outdoors!

Outdoor learning can either be through school trips or simply in a new setting within the school grounds, including in outdoor classrooms.


In this blog we are going to explore 7 pieces of equipment that involve outdoor learning ideas for mathematics, either during outdoor classroom sessions or breaktime and lunchtime. We have linked each lesson with the National Curriculum for Mathematics programmes of study for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 which is linked to child development.

1.Messy Kitchens


First on the list is the Messy Kitchens range, these not only provide hours of fun to let children really use their imaginations, but they also develop social skills and fine motor skills which in turn aids their pen grasp and writing. They use a range of natural materials such as bark, water, mud, sand as well as materials found inside the classroom, such as glitter, paint, and paper – the possibilities are endless!

The kitchens also feature chalkboards which helps encourage children to write and support language and vocabulary, providing excellent outdoor learning spaces.

Using the Messy Kitchen Corner, children can create their own recipes using units of measurement (cups, grams, tablespoons, millilitres)

Lesson Ideas:

Can the children construct their own mud pie?

Can the students use the following ‘ingredients’ for their mud pies:

  • 100ml of Water
  • 20g of Mud
  • 2 Cups of Glitter
  • 1 Tbsp of Sand

How did the mud pie turn out? 

Do they need to increase/decrease any units of measurement? 

Can they use different ‘ingredients’ for their mud pie?

Mud Kitchen Café! Can the kids create specific orders given by their ‘customers’ and how much are they going to charge for their mud pies? Do they need to give their customer change?

National Curriculum

  • compare, describe, and solve practical problems for mass/weight [for example, heavy/light, heavier than, lighter than]
  • measure and begin to record the following: mass/weight, capacity, and volume.
  • solve simple problems in a practical context involving addition and subtraction of money of the same unit, including giving change.


2. Sports Target walls

Our Sports Targets are an excellent addition to a playground or MUGA’s. They encourage a different types learning opportunities that can be applied to classroom outdoor learning or even when playing independently during breaktimes.

Schools can use MUGA’s mainly for PE lessons, but teachers can also explore a range of mathematical lessons and games, again using a new setting for learning outdoors.

Lesson Ideas:

Can the students make the numbers 10, 40 & 80 by throwing the ball onto each number – they can use addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division to get to the goals.

Sports Panel – Top Score, can the children work together to throw balls at the numbers to get to 100?

They can add and minus numbers to get to the final score of 100.


Can the children work in teams to make the biggest number possible with the Sports Panel – Bullseye? Can they use multiply, divide, add and minus to increase/decrease their number?



Teacher shouts out a shape, the children need to identify the shape by throwing a ball at the shape using the Sports Panel – Set of 1-10 Numbered Shapes.

Have the children work in pairs, one child describes a shape and the other then needs to identify by throwing the ball e.g. This shape has 3 sides, 3 corners and 1 line of symmetry (triangle).

National Curriculum

• read, write, and interpret mathematical statements involving addition (+), subtraction (–) and equals (=) signs

• solve one-step problems that involve addition and subtraction, using concrete objects and pictorial representations, and missing number problems such as 7 = – 9.

• Recognise and name common 2-D and 3-D shapes, including: 2-D shapes [for example, rectangles (including squares), circles and triangles]

• identify and describe the properties of 2-D shapes, including the number of sides and line symmetry in a vertical line.


3. Planters

Individually hand made to suit your requirements, from vegetable patches and digging areas, through to beautifully planted features around the school. Our Planters offer a wide range of exciting learning opportunities for your children and are suitable for a range of ages!


Lesson Ideas:

To start off the plants journey, in groups the children need to count the number of seeds they are planting, they need to make sure they read the instructions to find out how many seeds they need. In their groups they then need to work out how much water they need to use to water their plants. Be careful not to over water!

Once the plants have been sewn and beginning to grow the students can then to begin measuring their plants week by week, keeping a record of how much their plants have grown firstly in a table, transferring their date into a bar or line graph.

Planters are also an excellent resource for outdoor science lessons, it teaches the children about the lifecycle of a plant, including photosynthesis, looking into how plants convert water and sunlight into food.

National Curriculum

  • measure and begin to record the following: lengths and heights and capacity and volume.
  • complete, read and interpret information in tables, including timetables.
  • interpret and present data using bar charts, pictograms, and tables.



4. Line Markings

Our Playground Markings offer a wide range of learning opportunities, including mathematics.

The number lines, hopscotches and board games enhance children’s ability to count forwards and backwards, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Lesson Ideas:

In teams the children throw beanbags onto 3 numbers, using their mathematical knowledge they then work together to create a mathematical equation, using the 4 symbols and equals. This can also be an independent task and the children can make this as challenging as they want.


Beanbag 1 – 4playground marking - number line

Beanbag 2 – 6

Beanbag 3 – 3

Calculation – 4+6= 10

10 x 3 = 30

The teacher can then ask, ‘how many more would you need to get to….?’ ‘What would I need to subtract from that number to get to…?’

Alternatively, the fitness trails are not only excellent for physical development, but they can also be very useful for timing children how quickly they can get around the trails, encouraging them to move as quickly as possible.

In teams the children can have competitions on how quickly they can get around the trails using stopwatch timers, the children then need to work out who completed the trail in the quickest time.

Using a meter wheel can the students work out the length of the fitness trails? Who can get to the closest measurement? What unit of measurement would we need to measure the trail in?

Working in pairs, have one child with their eyes covered, using appropriate mathematical language can they guide their partner around the trail?

  • Turn Right
  • Rotate Left
  • Move Straight


National Curriculum

• solve one-step and two-step questions [for example, ‘How many more?’ and ‘How many fewer?’

• compare, describe, and solve practical problems for: time [for example, quicker, slower, earlier, later]

• measure and begin to record the following: time (hours, minutes, seconds), lengths and heights.

• choose and use appropriate standard units to estimate and measure length/height in any direction (m/cm); mass (kg/g); temperature (°C); capacity (litres/ml) to the nearest appropriate unit, using rulers, scales, thermometers and measuring vessels.

• use mathematical vocabulary to describe position, direction, and movement, including movement in a straight line and distinguishing between rotation as a turn and in terms of right angles for quarter, half, and three-quarter turns (clockwise and anticlockwise).



5. Trim Trails


From our low-level trim trails, supporting children learning co-ordination, balance, and spatial awareness, through to our high-level adventure trails, providing an exhilarating challenge for even the most confident of children, our range of trim trails truly offer something for everyone.

The perfect resource for getting pupils active during school break times or even during lesson time, built to cater for high numbers of children at any time, a must have in every school.

Lesson Ideas:

Have the children get into pairs, one child needs to complete the trail as fast as they can in a safe manner, while their partner times them.

Can your partner safely beat your time? Who was quicker/slower?

Are you able to convert the seconds into minutes and seconds?


Have the children work in groups to estimate the length of the trim trail, using the appropriate unit of measurement. Once all estimations are in, they then need to measure the length of the trim trail using a meter wheel.

Are they able to convert into m and cm?

If they breakdown each component of the trail is this half the length, quarter…?


National Curriculum

  • solve problems involving converting between units of time.
  • measure and begin to record the following: time (hours, minutes, seconds), lengths and heights.
  • compare, describe, and solve practical problems for: lengths and heights [for example, long/short, longer/shorter, tall/short, double/half], time [quicker, slower, earlier, later choose and use appropriate standard units to estimate and measure length/height in any direction (m/cm)

6. Physical Development Blocks/ Den Making


he Physical Development Blocks develop a child’s gross motor skills particularly balance, co-ordination, and upper body strength.

Our Display Posts are great for showing off artwork or creating a secret den! The imagination can run wild with these open-ended play posts.physical development blocks with children

Both are excellent for den making and encouraging the children to really use their imaginations! 

Lesson Ideas:

Have the children describe the different shaped physical blocks, including degrees, acute/obtuse angles. Are they able to draw the shapes using protractors?

Have the children work in teams to create their own calculations with the blocks If they have each block representing a different number of their choosing and work together to create their calculations:

e.g. Curve Box – 5

Square Box – 10

Calculation 5 x 10 = 50


Using the display post the children can make dens in the playground. But before building anything can they estimate how high they can make the den? What unit of measurement will they use to measure how high the den is? What material are they going to use so it isn’t too heavy and collapse?


National Curriculum

  • recognise and name common 2-D and 3-D shapes, including: 2-D shapes [for example, rectangles (including squares), circles and triangles] 3-D shapes [for example, cuboids (including cubes), pyramids and spheres].
  • know angles are measured in degrees: estimate and compare acute, obtuse, and reflex angles.
  • identify 3-D shapes, including cubes and other cuboids, from 2-D representations, know angles are measured in degrees: estimate and compare acute, obtuse, and reflex angles, draw given angles, and measure them in degrees.
  • solve one-step problems that involve addition and subtraction, using concrete objects and pictorial representations, and missing number problems such as 7 = – 9.
  • measure and begin to record the following: lengths and heights, mass/weight.


7. Activity Panels


Last but in ways means least are our Activity Panels, these are huge benefit to any playground, they don’t take up a lot of space, and are ideal for supporting numeracy and literacy lessons, problem solving or simply introducing fun traditional games to the school day.

There is a wide range of panels that support mathematics during breaktimes and outdoor learning.

Lesson Ideas:

Have the children set up their own grocery shop, they need to sell their ‘products’ to their customers, giving prices, adding, and subtracting money and giving change.


Using the panels ‘Todays Date Is…’ and ‘Can You Find The Times?’ can the children find the times on the board and let us know what today’s date is? Teacher to ask questions such as:

If today is the 5th June, what will the date be in 6 days?

 If we are now in November, what will the month be in 4 months’ time? 

If the time is now 3 O’clock, what will the time be in 3 hours?

Have the children work out these dates on the panels.

Finally using the match the pair shapes or polygon panel can the children firstly match the shapes correctly and can they describe the different properties of the shapes?


National Curriculum

  • recognise and use language relating to dates, including days of the week, weeks, months, and years.
  • add and subtract amounts of money to give change, using both £ and p in practical contexts.
  • measure and begin to record the following: time (hours, minutes, seconds)
  • tell the time to the hour and half past the hour and draw the hands on a clock face to show these times.
  • tell and write the time to five minutes, including quarter past/to the hour and draw the hands on a clock face to show these times.
  • 2-D shapes [for example, rectangles (including squares), circles and triangles]
  • identify and describe the properties of 2-D shapes, including the number of sides and line symmetry in a vertical line.


How can Playtime by Fawns help?

Our playground experts have over 30 years of experience consulting, designing, and installing outdoor playground equipment.

Want to add more activity opportunities to your outdoor learning environment? Contact our friendly sales team to organise your free design consultation.


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Outdoor Play: Why is it important?

Age-appropriate playground games for your outdoor play equipment