Outdoor Math Game for Preschoolers: Exploring Size (with printable action cards)

The predicted rain held off this week, and we’re finally getting outdoors!  Instead of doing math at the table we played an active outdoor math game for preschoolers.

outdoor math game for preschoolers

The other day as the kids played outside I told them to point out things that were large, small, or their same size. I noticed that my Two (almost three) didn’t have a great concept of “very big” and “very small.”  To him, the bicycle was very big.  Very small was a basketball.  I wanted to create a game that would give him lots of practice examining and comparing sizes.

I created a set of action cards to give our game some direction:

action card snip

These action cards are, of course, completely optional, but I liked using them for a few reasons:

1) I did my thinking beforehand and didn’t need to think of something on the spot.  I’m sure many of you have way more brain power than I do, but I am seriously beat by the afternoon.

2) It gave my daughter something to read.  This made her happy — and since she’s the oldest, her attitude often leads the way for her little brothers.

3) As the kids took turns choosing action cards, it gave them the feeling that they had some power in the game.

4) It gave the game some direction.  At a few different points both my Two and Four decided to quit playing.  But when they realized it was time to draw another card, they eagerly returned.

5) Okay, I have to say there are some pretty phenomenal mom bloggers out there with nary a printable to be found.  But I can’t help myself.   They’re just so clean, neat, and — well, printed!  I started making them on a manual typewriter when I played school as a kid.  Later I typed my eighth grade study guides on an electric typewriter, and in high school I charged $1 a page to type my friends’ reports on a word processing typewriter.  Now that technology has advanced so much, how can I help myself??

I printed the cards on bright paper, cut them apart, and put them in a container.

outdoor math game for preschoolers (1) - the measured mom

The kids took turns drawing a card. My Five read them aloud.

outdoor math game for preschoolers (4) - the measured mom

“Find something smaller than a bike.”

outdoor math game for preschoolers (2) - the measured mom

“Run around something that is very big.”

outdoor math game for preschoolers (3) - the measured mom

“Sit on something that is very, very big.”

This game kept us busy for a while.  How did it meet the  needs of each of my kids?  It gave my Five some fun time with Mom.  It was an energy burner for my Four (and he always needs one of those!).  And it was a real learning opportunity for my Two.  By the end of the game his concept of size had really improved.

outdoor math game for preschoolers (5) - the measured mom

And my One enjoyed the action —  while he did his own exploring.

This kind of game is great for spur-of-the-moment outdoor fun or a planned math lesson.

Get your free action cards HERE.

need help downloading

Need some more ideas for outdoor fun and learning? Follow me on Pinterest! 

Follow The Measured Mom’s board Outdoor Fun for Kids on Pinterest.

© 2013 – 2014, Anna Geiger. All rights reserved.


  1. says

    This is the first time I have been on your site and I’m visiting from the Tender Moments with Toddlers and Preschoolers. I’m one of the co-host!

    I absolutely love your card idea and know that my 3 year old would love this game, mostly because it includes outside!

    Hope you come back and link up more of your great ideas!

    • annageig says

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Dollie! I plan to link up to Tender Moments as often as I can. Thanks for hosting!

  2. says

    What a fantastic interactive way to get outside and learn some core math skills for young ones! Thank you for linking up this week to the Hearts for Home Blog Hop. I hope to see you link up next week as well :-)

    • annageig says

      Thanks so much, Jeannine! I visited your site- it looks fantastic! I’m following by e-mail. Can I ask what’s the age difference between you and your sister? (if my daughter ever gets a sister there will be a sizable age gap…)

      • says

        My sisters are 10 and 12 years older than me. A bit of a gap! We are very close and have always been extremely supportive of each other. It was fun growing-up with sisters who were always looking out for me. In return, I grew very close to their children. Our ages are all mixed-up but we are one big happy family. :)

        • annageig says

          So nice to hear from you again, Jeannine! Wow, 10 and 12 years! It’s so inspiring and encouraging to me to hear of siblings who are good friends with that kind of age gap. Growing up, our family was all very close in age (5 kids in 5.5 years – one set of twins), so that’s what I know. I don’t know what God has in mind for my family now. I love stories like yours!

  3. says

    This is fantastic!!!! What a fun game. I LOVE how you are incorporating the outdoors, math, and some exercise and fun all into one activity. Thanks so much for sharing at For the Kids Fridays over at SunScholars. I am featuring your post this week! Come grab a featured button… and I would LOVE to have you back to share with us again soon!

  4. says

    Visiting from Pinkoddy. I love this game and I agree — having something made up ahead of time is way better than thinking on the spot. Heading to check out your ladybug math now!

    Lindsey @ GrowingKidsMinistry.com

  5. says

    Thank you so much for sharing them on MotivationalMonday they are so great!
    My boy has just learned big and small too so these are just perfect for where he is in learning – and so active and fun.


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