Let’s talk spatial awareness. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been teased that you could get lost in a paper bag. Really? I’m the only one? Give me a map and I do just fine. Without a map, well, all bets are off.
My somewhat embarrassing poor sense of direction is just one example of why developing strong spatial awareness skills at an early age is important.
Can I blame my remarkable talent for getting lost on my gender, my genes or perhaps my choices of childhood toys? The jury (and research) is still out on that one.
I do remember that the only Legos in my life as a child lived at Grandma’s house. Grandma didn’t much care for the “noise” they made so back to the cupboard they went. Clearly I was not destined to become an engineer.
Children with strong spatial awareness understand and interpret relationships between objects, themselves, and the areas around them. Spatial understanding of size, distance, volume, order and time allows a child to carry out a variety of day to day tasks such as:
• lining up at the classroom door
• reaching the proper distance across the table to grab a crayon
• understanding directional words such as above, below, under, over, in, out
• recognizing the differences between b and d, g and p, 3 and E
• knowing right from left
• putting letters in proper order to make words
• writing words and sentences in an organized way on the page
• understanding days of the week and the months and seasons of the year
• understanding the length of time a second, a minute, or an hour lasts
• calculating arithmetic
• and of course, getting from A to B without getting lost.
Spatial skills tend to develop naturally as children grow yet we can still do plenty to support and enhance the development of strong spatial awareness. Whether you’re raising a future engineer, scientist, mathematician, artist, or just want your child to become a good navigator, below is a short list of ideas for strengthening your child’s potential. And please, by all means, let them play Legos!
“The Hokey Pokey” for example
Hide a toy and make a treasure map
Jigsaw puzzles, Tangrams, Lincoln Logs, Mighty Mind and K’nex
All strengthen children’s ability to recreate patterns
From Kristina of Toddler Approved
Try this printable cut and play visual spatial puzzle
From yours truly in the Printable Fun section
I love this DIY outdoor Twister game
From Roeshel of DIY Show Off
For students in second grade and up
From Cindy of Love 2 Learn 2day
Free printable hexagon cards that can be used for learning colors, making patterns, even math – all ages
From Kate of Picklebums
Perhaps a bit expensive as far as wooden cubes go but they’re non-toxic, eco friendly and pretty darn adorable. From Romp
Game for visual spatial reasoning made by a software engineer for 3 year old twins.
From Lilac of Learners in Bloom
From Jackie of Happy Hooligans
From Tara of Feels Like Home
The list of great board games for spatial awareness is endless. Here are just a few:
Checkers, Chess, Othello, Traverse, Swish, Tri Spy
Looking for even MORE brain boosting fun? Check out the complete Roundup category for phonological activities, memory activities and more.