Spatial sense is a basic math skill which is also important in many other aspects of life like art and nature. Think of it as how we understand shape, size, position and direction. It’s how we understand, describe and interact with the physical world around us.
Well before geometry class, children can recognize and identify shapes at a very young age. But this is not the same as analyzing shapes and spaces. To aid this more in depth learning, children need access to and active involvement with concrete 3-dimensional objects. For example, constructing models, folding paper cutouts, using mirrors, pattern blocks and tangrams [from https://www.state.nj.us/education/archive/frameworks/math/math5.pdf]
What can you do to create a rich, spatial learning environment?
- Incorporate nature in play. Build stick houses. Use vines to create garden fences.
- Build. With blocks, certainly. But also with pillows and cushions and blankets–building forts with these objects can help children understand shape rotation.
- Put together models.
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Create a dance routine within a confined space
- Hopscotch patterns with sidewalk chalk.
For more support, here are some good picture book suggestions to learn about shapes and space: