Wednesday, July 24, 2013

5 Ways to Develop Spatial Awareness

Spatial awareness is the ability to understand and interact with the environment around you.  Whether it be avoiding obstacles when walking, reaching out to grab a pencil or determining left from right these are all examples of tasks that require spatial awareness.   Developing the skills to express and understand spatial skills are the first step in understanding spatial ability and awareness such as math skills, visual perceptual skills and body awareness.

Here are 5 activities to help encourage the development of spatial awareness:

1.  Obstacle Courses:  The ability to negotiate an obstacle course requires a significant amount of spatial awareness.  Vary the courses grading them according to the child's ability to move over, under and around objects.

2.  Build and Create:  Use Legos, blocks and puzzles.  Try Tangam puzzles.    Try this free visual spatial puzzle crossing paths.  Research has shown that that parents who participated in guided block play with their children had significantly higher proportions of spatial talk. Guided block play consisted of playing with the blocks along with guided instructions for how to build different structures.  Read more in a previous blog post on block play and spatial awareness.

3.  Practice completing patterns.  You could try Follow the Path or Patterns, Patterns, Patterns

4.  Movement Games:  Participate in any type of movement games where children have to move around obstacles or friends.  The ability to move around stationary objects is quite different than around moving objects which are unpredictable.  If you need ideas, try 50 Sensory Motor Activities for Kids! 

5.  Provide verbal descriptions.  Offer many opportunities for children to hear descriptions of where they are or where objects are in relationship to each other.  For example - "The pencil is on the right side of the desk" or "Let's step over the log".  Play games that require children to follow directions - ie Be A Robot.  Try worksheets where children how to follow directions of what colors to use for different letters or shapes ie Color Coding.  

What are your favorite spatial awareness activities?

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