Spatial Awareness Toys

Spatial Awareness is such a scientific term but it translates into important life skills for our children. Let us understand how fun games like I Spy, puzzles and throwing food on the floor can actually develop spatial awareness and perception.

What are Spatial Awareness Toys? Toys, activities and books which can help children learn about their surroundings, the relationship to their surroundings and how to interact with them. Through games and activities kids develop abilities to help them understand objects three dimensionally, learn how to walk around objects and not bump into walls. Spatial skills are needed if you want to learn to become good at playing football or climb a rope or use a map.

I wish I knew these when my son was a baby. When he came home with activity sheets from school in tears because he was mixing up b’s and d’s , I never knew how to help him. Embracing him in my arms I wished I could just help him understand. Here are some simple ways you can help your child acquire spatial awareness.

Why is Spatial Awareness Important

Spatial Awareness helps kids in performing tasks efficiently, understand balance, gain awareness of objects and the distance in relation to those objects. Kids who have developed spatial skills can

  • Explain what they want clearly
  • Can describe their environment
  • Have a better perception of objects
  • Can manipulate objects

Kids need spatial awareness to be able to feed themselves, play games and sports, move around without bumping into walls and objects. Reading and math skills and artistic creativity also require spatial skills.

What exactly is Spatial Awareness?

When we reach for a glass of water we do not miss it. We judge how far it is relative to us, and if the glass is moved we are aware that we need to grab for it in another place.

Spatial awareness is how we are aware of the relation between objects in terms of how far they are ( distance) and the space ( 3 D view).

This ability is perceiving how far or deep an object is relative to our position. Developing this ability means we can accurately reach out for objects.

Spatial Awareness can be difficult for kids suffering from

  • Autism
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • DCD Development Co-Ordination Disorder

Careers such as Graphic Desgining, photography, physicists require spatial awreness.

How are Spatial Skills Developed

Spatial Awareness Skills can be developed via structured and non-structured play. Structured play means the rules are set for the game. Kids learn skills while playing with the rules of the game. Non-structured play is play which allows child to decide on different ways to play the game keeping the objective in mind.

Toys which can help build spatial awareness are

  • puzzles
  • blocks
  • tangrams
  • drawing
  • sandbox play

Structured play with games like I Spy and Guess can help develop spatial skills. Rhymes such as “Put your left leg in, now put your right leg in …” are also helping with social awareness..

Spatial Awareness Activities for Kids

Spatial awareness can be taught to kids via activities and toys. A baby is already born having spatial awareness skills. The baby can differentiate between mom and dad, a cat and a dog.

What the baby cannot determine is whether the nose of a dog is the dog. In the sense unless baby can see the entire form of the dog, he might know that it is a dog. That is why when baby cannot see caregivers they start crying, a voice is not mom, a hand might not be mom, a mom is the face baby knows.

Baby cannot understand the concepts of behind, above, below, right, left, in between. Different developmental milestones, develop different spatial awareness.

For example as the baby is around 6 months he can understand that dots are above a line or below. But baby will not understand left or right.

As the baby gets older they understand concepts such as above or below, but dual concepts such as a box is in between two boxes and in front of another box is way too much for them.

These all are spatial awareness skills and the good news is that these can be developed. As the baby interacts with people and animals and his environment he develops these naturally. There are specific toys which are extremely helpful if you feel that your child might not be developing these skills.

Toddlers Spatial Awareness Activities

  • There are special books which teach spatial awareness concepts. Looks for books which have pictures showing concepts such as “near and far”, “above and below”, and “in and out”.
  • Construction Toys such as building blocks, legos and models are good as they help kids understand spatial concepts while constructing towers and buildings
  • Wooden blocks and Duplos
  • Shapes
  • atterns
  • Action Games
  • Puzzles
  • Board games which include steps such as to move 3 steps to the right. Kids learn planning and problem solving skills
  • Nesting cups
  • Hoola hoops

How to Improve Spatial Intelligence

Spend time with your child and incorporate activities shared above. For older kids the following activities help develop spatial awareness

  • Dance
  • Gymnastics
  • Soccer
  • Baseball

There are studies which indicate that listening to music while playing or studying can help. Invest in music such as Mozart, Bach, Baby Beethoven and Baby Einstein.

Another way is learning how to play musical instruments. This is a great way to learn spatial awareness.

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