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Q: My daughter needs improvement in spatial reasoning. I was told to have her engage in manipulative projects and activities, tasks that would require spatial reasoning. How can I help her with this?
A: Improving your daughter's spatial reasoning skills should be a thoroughly pleasant task that will let her have a lot of fun. Good skills in this area are very important, as they are essential for a student to shine in math, science, and geography.
Like other skills, children's spatial reasoning skills develop over time with plenty of practice. Begin by helping your child gain an awareness of shapes and how they relate to each other through the following manipulative activities:
- Encourage your child to do jigsaw puzzles.
- Make a simple construction using ten or more building blocks. Then, have your child copy it block by block. Increase the number of blocks and complexity of the construction, as she becomes more skilled.
- Turn your daughter into a builder. Have her use Lincoln Logs®, Legos®, and Tinker Toys® to construct houses, barns, skyscrapers, castles, and garages. Encourage her to use her imagination to construct places associated with Harry Potter, Winnie the Pooh, and other literary favorites.
- Introduce your daughter to the joys of making models by choosing age-appropriate models for her to build.
- Have your daughter play the game Jenga® that has children remove individual blocks until a construction collapses.
- Give your daughter an opportunity to work with tangrams. These are ancient Chinese puzzles in which simple geometric shapes are arranged to fill an uncommon space.
As your daughter's spatial reasoning skills grow, she can move on to drawing maps, using a compass, and writing directions. Also, encourage her to talk about routes to different places and the meaning of a variety of diagrams.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.