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Outdoor Math Games to Avoid the Summer Slide

There’s no better way to avoid the summer slide than to get outside! Summer is the best time of the year to go out and enjoy the great outdoors, and DreamBox Learning wants to add to the fun with exciting and easy outdoor math games kids will love.  Break out the sunscreen and throw on the swimsuit because some of these games are going to get you soaked with water and knowledge (but, mostly water).

kids playing outside

Wet ‘n wild math games

1. Hole-in-the-Bucket Relay Race

Teach children how to measure liquids with a hole-in-the-bucket relay race.


  1. Five Tupperware or coffee can containers
  2. One large clean plastic garbage container
  3. Five different five-gallon buckets
  4. One nail and hammer

Set up:

Use a nail to punch five to eight holes in one coffee can for each team. Have players estimate how many cans full of water it will take to fill up a five-gallon bucket.

The rules:

Give each evenly divided team a can. Players run to the container full of water, fill the can, and run back to the next person, who dumps the water into the bucket. The race is over when the first team fills up their five-gallon bucket.

Give a special prize to the team that fills their bucket in the least amount of trips.

2. Water balloon toss

Discover distances by measuring how far you throw a water balloon in a game of catch.


  1. 25 water balloons filled with water
  2. Measuring tape
  3. Trash bags to collect water balloon fragments

Set up:

Using the measuring tape, mark off every three feet on the ground for 30 yards. (If you  have access to a football field, you can also use the yard markers on a lined football field. Be sure to clean up afterward!) Ask each player how far he or she can throw before starting.

The rules:

Pairing each team in a group of two, give each group a water balloon and have them start by standing three-feet apart in the middle of the 30-yard area. One person on each team will pass the water balloon to the teammate. If the water balloon doesn’t break, each teammate can take one gigantic step backwards to the next yard marker. The game continues until there is only one team left with an intact water balloon.

Runnin’ around math games

1. Get Even

Use a deck of playing cards to learn the difference between even and odd numbers.


  1. One deck of playing cards (without jokers or face cards)
  2. Eight cones
  3. A large running area like a field

Set up:

Using four cones make a box in the middle of the field called the “pen.” Align the other four cones in the four outer corners of the field.

The rules:

Give each player a playing card with an odd number. Divide the rest of the deck into the four outer corner cones. Players must dash out to one of the four outer cones and find one card that equals an even number when added to the player’s card. The player then returns to the pen to drop off their new card and races back out to the outer cones. The game is over when players collect all the playing cards from the outside cones.

2. One size fits all

Learn about different sizes in a clothing relay race.


  1. Three XXL t-shirts
  2. Three XXL athletic shorts
  3. Three pairs of adult size shoes
  4. Six cones

Set up:

Place the shirt, shorts and shoes at the start line. Space a set of three cones ten-yards away from the start line.

The rules:

Divide each team into three even groups. When the leader says, “Go!” the first person in line races to put on the shoes, shirt and shorts and runs down field, around the cone and back the start line. The player must then hand off the shoes, shirt and shorts to the next person in line. The race continues until every person on the team dashes down field.

For an extra math moment: Using a stopwatch, take the pulse of each player after he or she is done running.

Be sure to check out our August Math Activity Calendar for even more summer math activities all month long. Have a great summer and comment below with your own outdoor math activity ideas!

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