Activities to Teach Children About Spatial Skills

Written by melissa gagnon
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Activities to Teach Children About Spatial Skills
Working with puzzles helps children develop spatial skills. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Developing spatial skills is extremely important for all children. The ability to judge where things are in relation to yourself or other things is imperative for moving safely about your environment, participating in sports and driving a car. Children who have well-developed spatial skills are also more successful in mastering math concepts related to geometry, and have better auditory memory.

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Movement

Movement is an effective and enjoyable way for children to work on their spatial awareness. Have children move their bodies freely during music time. Encourage dancing and skipping. This will help children judge the space around them as they move about. Remind them to try to stay within their own space. Controlled movement is also important in developing spatial skills, Ask children to walk on a line, practicing their balance. Have them step in footsteps or on carpet squares that you have placed around the room. Group movement activities such as yoga, gymnastics or songs that have motions or dances to follow are also good practice.

Fine Motor

Activities that require the use of fine motor skills can help in developing spatial skills. Have children draw pictures of a person's face or of the classroom. Ask them to pay attention to where things are located and to try to represent their true position in the drawing. Building models or making a Lego creation can also help children develop spatial awareness. Children must look at where the pieces need to go, following a picture for a guide. Building blocks are great for young children to begin judging spatial relationships as they build towers and practice balancing blocks on top of one another.

Games

Games that teach students about spatial skills can be incorporated in physical education, recess or even playtime at home. "Follow the Leader" and "Mother May I?" are two games that children can play either indoors or outdoors. In "Follow the Leader," children copy the movements of the leader. In "Mother May I?" they must take large, small, or medium size steps in order to reach the "mother" standing in front of the players. Twister, a game where children must place their hands and feet on different coloured circles is good practice for judging where their body is in relation to the different spots on the floor. Any sports activity where children must make contact with a ball, either by catching it or hitting it with a bat or racket, is a good way to judge where their body is in relation to a moving object.

Math

Many math-based activities will help build children's spatial awareness skills. Geometry -- studying different shapes and how they take up space -- helps children gain awareness about where things are in relation to other things. Puzzles, tangrams and replicating patterns are good ways for younger children to work on spatial awareness. Children can trace shapes to create a pattern or a tangram or tessellation. Making puzzles requires children to visualise where a piece could fit in relation to the other pieces. Very early learners can build these skills by using shape sorters.

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