Age

3 to 5

Using spatial language and reasoning

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**Children often** enjoy moving around obstacle courses, especially if these involve a variety of movements like balancing, jumping and crawling.

**Adults could** model a commentary using directional language, such as going *around, under, over* and *through*, encouraging children to describe their movements and to devise their own courses.

**The Activity**

Set up a simple course, with for instance, planks to balance along, hoops to jump in, tunnels to crawl through and tables to go over or under.

**Encouraging mathematical thinking and reasoning:**

**Describing**

Tell me what you're doing.

*I am going up, I am going over, I am going down, I am going under, I am going through…*

**Reasoning**

Perhaps we could go

*across*something or

*between*some things?

What about a slalom course of cones – how far apart do they need to be?

Suppose we do the course backwards, what would come first, then?

**Opening Out**

Can you make your own obstacle course? What might you use - there are hoops, cones, large blocks and planks? Can you make some stairs? What about a circuit?

Can you make a course to get from here to there without touching the ground?

**Recording**

Could you draw a plan or map for your obstacle course? What about adding some arrows to show people which way to go?

**The Mathematical Journey**

**Shape, space and position:**

- directional language e.g.
*over, under, along, across, around, between, forwards, backwards,*and later*left and right* - visualising and making routes connecting points in different ways
- drawing plans of a course (representing 3D spatial relationships in 2D); beginning to use symbols e.g. arrows

**Number:**

- counting hoops or cones as children jump in or go around each one

**Measures:**

- comparing distances e.g. putting hoops or stepping stones nearer or further apart
- measuring how far apart to put slalom cones

**Development and Variation**

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Children can:

- make obstacle courses with different specifications e.g. not touching the ground, connecting different points, making a circuit
- use stepping stones to make pathways
- visit mazes and help to design and make their own.

**Resources**

Crates, tyres, planks, blocks, hoops, cones, tunnels, tables, chalk (e.g. for adding annotations on the playground), large boxes…

Download a PDF of this resource.

Acknowledgement: Sharon Palfreyman and children at Corrie Primary and Nursery School