Dos and Don’ts of Math Trails

Math trails provide robust opportunities for kids to make sense of their environment and interact with math in different ways. Organization is key to success. Consider the following dos and don’ts when designing a math trail:

• Make it fun, imaginative, relevant

• Organize teams strategically for collaborative problem solving

• Ensure realistic walking time

• Keep required tools to a minimum

• Ditch the textbook: craft investigations unique to the environment

• Allow students to work at their own pace

• Encourage students to use their bodies (step length, arm span, hand span) to estimate

• Provide space on trail guide for students to explain, compute and sketch

• Plan time for discussion, reflection and extension

• Test your trail, assess time and resource requirements

• Provide hints and answers to promote learning

• Avoid too much time in one spot

• Avoid far distances between trail stops

• Avoid boring settings

• Avoid crowded and unsafe locations

• Avoid all single solution, closed-ended questions

• Avoid redundancy in question types, formats