Play spatial thinking maths games
Research suggests that spatial thinking is directly linked to performance in mathematics, and there are a number of fun activities parents can do at home to develop learners’ spatial reasoning skills.
Spatial thinking or reasoning involves the location and movement of objects and ourselves, either mentally or physically, in space. It’s not a single ability or process but actually refers to a considerable number of concepts, tools and processes.
Spatial thinking and reasoning is an important skill for children to learn, it’s essential to our everyday lives. The world is 3-D so we need to be able to navigate it.
Research suggests that learners who have stronger spatial language perform better in spatial-reasoning tasks. Parents can support the development of spatial thinking at home with activities that emphasise spatial language.
Here are a couple of ideas.
Spatial thinking barrier game
You will need:
- A barrier (cardboard or a book)
- 3-D objects like blocks, counters or lego
How to play:
Step 1: Players sit opposite each other and place a barrier between them so they can’t see the other player’s 3-D objects. Each player needs exactly the same objects.
Step 2: Player one makes a 3-D figure or arrangement, using blocks, counters or both.
Step 3: Player one makes a figure using the objects. Player one then explains to player two how to construct the figure they made step by step using spatial language like “Place a block on top of the first block”. Player two completes the instruction. Player one gives another instruction, “place the third block to the right of the tower with the ‘letter A’ facing the front, then rotate the ‘letter A’ 90 degrees to the left”.
Step 4: Once player two has completed the construction, remove the barrier to see if the figures look the same. Take turns.
Maths obstacle courses
Step 1: Create an obstacle course either inside or outside.
Step 2: Player one directs player two around the obstacle course using spatial language. Take turns and challenge player two to direct player one around the course using a different route.
These activities can be adapted for all age groups.
- For younger children, the designs will be simple and the language used will relate to location, orientation, distance and direction. For example: left, right, top, bottom, between, in front, behind.
- If the children are older, the designs can be more complex and can involve geometric language including rotations, transformations and translations.