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Block Play and Spatial Awareness


Developing the skills to express and understand spatial skills are the first step in understanding spatial ability and awareness such as math skills, visual perceptual skills and body awareness.

Child Development published research on the importance of block play in over one hundred preschoolers. The children in the study who were better at copying block patterns were also better at early math skills. Copying block patterns consisted of knowing whether a block went above or below with the blocks properly aligned. The results also indicated that children from lower income families were already falling behind in visual spatial skills due to limited experiences with blocks or other toys that encourage visual spatial development. Parents of lower income children also reported using the words “above” or “below” less often.

A study in Mind, Brain and Education indicated that playing with blocks helps children to understand spatial concepts such as over, around and through. The researchers found that parents who participated in guided block play with their children had significantly higher proportions of spatial talk. Guided block play consisted of playing with the blocks along with guided instructions for how to build different structures.

Maybe next time you see a child struggling with spatial awareness take a quick moment to determine do they understand spatial language the first building block to spatial awareness.


Fisher, K. Interactive play develops kids’ spatial skills. Temple University. Retrieved from the web on 11/3/11 at http://news.temple.edu/news/interactive-play-develops-kids-spatial-skills

Society for Research in Child Development. “A child’s spatial and math thinking likely improved simply by playing with blocks.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 27 Sep. 2013. Web. 11 Oct. 2013.

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