When I think of spatial skills, the first things that come to mind are LEGOs, Lincoln Logs, and other building materials. But spatial skills are not just for young kids. There are a plethora of spatial skills games and manipulatives available to build your student’s spatial skills.
Before diving into the list of spatial skills games and manipulatives, let’s explore what spatial skills are and why we need them.
What are spatial skills?
Dr. Gwen Dewar defines spatial thinking as “what we do when we visualize shapes in our ‘mind’s eye.'” It is our ability to perceive where we or other objects are relative to their given space.
Why are spatial skills important?
Spatial skills are important for solving problems in everyday life such as reading a map, packing a suitcase, and driving. Many fields of study such as mathematics, natural sciences, engineering, meteorology, radiology, and architecture rely heavily on spatial skills. They are becoming even more important with the development of new technologies.
Can you improve spatial skills?
Our spatial ability changes over time as this article from Johns Hopkins explains. We can improve spatial skills, but if we don’t use the skills we have, they can decline as well. Several studies even suggest that regular training in spatial skills can remove any differences between genders. They also suggest that exposing children to spatial language and asking questions that require spatial reasoning can improve their test scores later.
Spatial Skills Games and Manipulatives
There are many ways to improve spatial skills through fun activities and games. These are some of our favorites spatial skills games and manipulatives:
- Building Blocks
- Carpentry Tools
- Gravity Maze
- Hand Clapping Games
- Lincoln Logs
- Map Skills
- Marble Run
- Nowhere to Go
- Penguins on Ice
- Pick-up Sticks
- Scherenschnitte—This is a paper cutting technique used by the Pennsylvania Dutch and Germans, among others. The word means silhouette in German. Several helpful sites include:
- Straws and Connectors
- String art
- Suspend by Melissa and Doug
- Tinker Toys
- Viking Brainstorm
Find more math manipulative and game suggestions in the math manipulative post series.
This post has been linked to the Massive Guide to Homeschooling Math