Math Trails

Walking during Shelter-in-Place guidelines has been on the rise. If I were to run the numbers on the people that passed by window while I was teaching on Zoom, I could come up with a few different graphs.

I could tally up:

  • the number of people
  • the number of dogs
  • the number of kids vs. adults
  • the number of bicycles or skateboards
  • the frequency of daily walks
  • the frequency of more than 1 walk per day

The list can go on and on…. All of this is a great thing! More people are outside, breathing fresh air, and getting exercise.

Your Math Investigation this week will be to go on a Math Trail. A Math Trail is just like a normal walk, but this time you will be armed with a pencil and your Math Journal, and you will be noticing that while you are getting more oxygen to your brain there is MATH all around you! There are not only observations and documentation, but discovery of patterns and shapes, data and multiplication, and most of all problem solving.

Your Math Trail can lead you anywhere. You can:

  • Notice the windows of the houses you walk by. How many windows in a typical house? How many windows on the one side of the street? How many windows in a single-story vs. a two-story house? Estimate the number of windows, then count them. How did you count them? What was your strategy?
  • Find the area and perimeter of lawn or a trail. While you do not have a tape measure (or, do you?) use your steps to measure. Find the length and width. What is the average lawn size in your neighborhood. If you are on a trail, how wide is the trail? What does width and length mean for the number of hikers?
  • Is there a sculpture on your walk? What about a sign, or a building, or a tree? How would you describe it to someone that is not on the walk with you? What kinds of shapes do you see? Can you find something to compare to its height, length, width, or shape?
  • Try collecting data, like the number of people that passed by my window. How many people? Or, how many trees, or flowers, or poison oak? Put you data in a graph or a chart to display.

Choose 1 of these options, or come with your own idea! Record your observations, make a graph, sketch the Math. It really is endless!

On my Math Trail I notice a sign that educated the public on some of the plants on the trail. I took notice of the thimbleberry:

I decided to count how many thimbleberries I would come across. There were a lot! I decided to make an estimation based on the data I was gathering.

About 5 thimbleberries per bush
Using the Partial Product Strategy of Multiplication, I came across about 795 thimbleberries on my Math Trail

Let me know how your Math Trail went. What did you discover? Share it with me at

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