When your child is walking around the room, trying to catch a ball, or having fun at the playground, they are using their spatial awareness skills to maneuver these tasks. Spatial awareness is the understanding of your position with respect to other objects in space. Therefore, a baby cannot easily reach out for the rattle because they are yet to understand how far the rattle is and the extent to which they must extend their arms to catch it. Similarly, a toddler needs practice before they can perfectly catch a ball.
As we can see, spatial awareness doesn’t develop overnight. As kids experience the world around them, they continue working on these skills and get proficient with time and experience. Hence, giving kids ample opportunities to enhance their spatial awareness is a necessity to support their development. Spatial awareness activities are an ideal way to work on spatial skills. Include them daily in your child’s routine and see the difference.
Fun spatial awareness activities for kids
We have enlisted ten interesting activities you can do with kids at home or when you are outdoors. Take a look and try them out!
1. Find Your Favorite Toy
Hide your child’s favorite toy (with their permission, of course!) somewhere in a room and give them a mission to find it. Seeking the toy in the room will work those spatial skills as your child kneels to find it under the bed or inside the closet. You can even give them hints to help them in their search. For example, you could say, “your toy is kept ‘on’ something and not ‘under’ something. This will also teach them spatial vocabulary while they look out for their favorite toy!
2. Construct and Deconstruct
Kids love playing with legos, blocks, magnetic tiles, and similar toys. Building a tower and then breaking it down is something that most kids enjoy. Interestingly, while doing so, kids are not only having a great time but also working on their spatial awareness. Whether a child is building a tower using block pieces, creating a castle using magnetic tiles, or solving lego challenges, they are utilizing their understanding of the position of different objects in a given space.
3. Fill and Pour
Set up this activity in your patio, backyard, or in the bathroom. A place where you wouldn’t mind things getting a little wet. Give your child different types and sizes of containers. Provide them with a bucket full of water and see them fill and pour water from one container to another. This activity gives them a chance to work with liquids and understand how it behaves differently from solid objects. They will also see how pouring water from less height causes fewer spills compared to pouring it from more height.
4. Do What You Hear
In this activity, the child should do what they hear. For example, you could say things like, ‘pick up a toy and keep it on the bed’ or ‘take three rounds around the table, etc. By listening to the instructions and doing what is asked, kids develop an understanding of spatial concepts of over, under, around, on top of, etc. A couple of rounds of this activity every day is sufficient to revise and rehearse these spatial concepts.
5. Cross an Obstacle Course
Make an obstacle course for your child by placing toys, cushions, bean bags, etc., in the playroom or living room, wherever you have more space. Now let your child make their way through the obstacle to reach their final destination. Ask your child to jump over the cushions, crash land on the bean bag, and try not to bump into toys when crossing the obstacles. If you have a backyard, you can even be more creative with the obstacle course. Add in a play tunnel, or a small trampoline, or make arches with swim noodles to crawl under. We’re sure your kid will love it.
6. Recreate Patterns
Patterns help improve visual-spatial and visual-motor skills. This activity can be done with kids who have knowledge of different shapes. You can begin by drawing shapes in a pattern. Now ask your child to identify or draw which shape will come next. You can increase the difficulty level by asking them to identify which two shapes will appear next in the pattern. Another idea would be to create a simple dot-to-dot diagram and ask your kid to recreate the pattern in a similar grid.
7. Solve a Puzzle
Puzzles are one of the best tools for improving spatial awareness. When solving a puzzle, kids must visualize the position of a puzzle piece before adding it to the puzzle solution. They also learn to manipulate and comprehend different pieces of puzzles and how they fit into one another to complete the puzzle. You could buy a few jigsaw puzzles or a tangram puzzle set to let your kid solve them during playtime and work on those spatial concepts.
8. How Far Is It?
Understanding distance is also crucial for spatial awareness. This activity creates awareness about distance and how far or close things are. Explain to your child how they can measure the distance between two objects using a simple method such as measuring the distance with their feet. Demonstrate how they can find the distance between them and the tv using their feet. Once your child gets the idea, let them practice by asking them to figure out how far other objects are from their current position using their foot measurement.
9. Left or Right
Teach the spatial concept of left and right using this simple activity. Begin by telling your kid about left and right directions and how they can use their left and right hands to identify these directions. Things that fall towards their left hand are on the left-hand side, while those positioned toward their right hand are on the right-hand side. Now name an object and ask them to identify if it is on their left or right side. You can even give them an object and instruct them to keep it on one specific side to check their understanding.
10. Do the Hokey Pokey Dance
Music and dance play a very important role in a child’s development. They can be used to teach many things to young children in a fun and enjoyable way. The Hokey Pokey song is a great tool to introduce spatial concepts and raise spatial awareness in children. Play the song on tv and let your child do the activities along with it. They will learn to identify different body parts and how to put them in or bring them out of a given circle. Do the Hokey Pokey dance with your kid and see how much they enjoy your company!
Apart from the activities mentioned above, you can also involve your child in activities like soccer, dance, or gymnastics to refine their spatial awareness skills to help them easily carry out their day-to-day tasks. These games promote physical and mental well-being in children and also give them several opportunities to use spatial skills.
Although spatial awareness begins to develop in childhood, it is a lifelong process. By training kids in spatial awareness, we prepare them to tackle everyday tasks with ease. Some kids pick up these skills on their own as they explore the world around them, while some need a little help to understand these concepts. Use these simple yet effective activities with your kids and fine-tune their spatial awareness skills.