Calculator Walk
Years K - 1 (2)

An older person takes a young learner for a walk. They take a calculator with them to record numbers.


Calculator Walk (Main activity)
  • One calculator - better if it's not the one on your phone
  • Write the title of this challenge and today's date on a fresh page in your maths journal.
Calculator Art (Bonus activity)
  • Penne or other tube pasta, or drinking straws or other suitable material to cut to about penne size
  • Scissors, glue, paper or card to stick on to
  • Perhaps other assorted craft materials and boxes

The Calculator

Hand the learner a calculator to explore. It's wonderful if it can be one they are actually being given to keep as their own.
  • Ask them what they can see? Record together in their journal.
  • Ask what they can do with it? Record.
  • Point to a digit and ask what they know about it. Record.
  • Can you tell me anything else about the calculator.
  • Suppose I write a number on the screen, but it's the wrong one. How can I make it go away?
  • Can you write the number of people in our family?
  • Can you write the number of pets we have?
  • Can you write your age?
  • Can you write my age?
  • Write your favourite number on the screen. Now go and find that many ... (relevant objects).
  • Write a number on the screen that might surprise me?
Invite the learner to come on a number hunt with you and bring the calculator we can write some of the numbers we find.
Have fun exploring Calculator Walk

The Walk

You can walk in your house, in your yard, in your street, to the park ... and you can do a different walk on different days.
They might be big, small or middle-sized, but you will find numbers:

  • on walls
  • in books
  • on boxes
  • on fences
  • on signs
  • on bins
  • on the ground
  • all around...

When you find them, write them on the calculator, talk about them, wonder why they are there, then move on.

  • Could you make that number appear on the screen by using two other numbers?
When it's time to go back to the start, pause to ask which was the favourite number they found.
Discuss why and visit it again on the way back.
Ask the learner to write it on their calculator again and try to remember it until ...we get back.
It's a good idea to photograph it as well - memories fade and calculators can turn themselves off.
  • Back home again, they draw the number in their journal and write (or you write for them) where it was found, why it is favoured and any other information about it.

Calculator Art

Building on interest in the calculator as a machine, it adds to the walk experience to follow up with one, or more, of these activities:
  • Calculator screen digits are made by 'light bars'. Look closely at them to see how they are made. Use pasta tubes (or a substitute) and glue them on to paper/card to make a favourite digit, or their age, or house number or ... perhaps all the digits from zero (0) to nine (9).
  • Construct your own giant calculator out of assorted materials (like on Play School).
  • Paint, draw, crayon, collage a picture of you using your calculator.
  • ...or let us know what you think of and how it turned out.

Just Before You Finish

  • Ask the learner to draw their face and make it show how they felt when ...we went walking with the calculator today.


Send any comments or photos about this activity and we can start a gallery here.


Maths At Home is a division of Mathematics Centre