# Math Helping Your Four-Year-Old Develop Important Spatial Skills

Spatial reasoning connects math to the physical world and includes skills like reading maps, understanding symmetry and building 3D objects. Research indicates that spatial reasoning skills correlate to early achievement in mathematics and "strongly predict" who will pursue STEM careers later in life. Four-year-olds are becoming more physically competent, which means they are better at navigating their world and using their hands to build and create. This provides more opportunities for them to strengthen their spatial reasoning skills.

### Do Puzzles

One of the easiest ways to get your child to think about spatial relations at such a young age is to encourage playing with puzzles. By manipulating the pieces to make them fit into a space, your child is practicing using her spatial sense! For young children, start with large pieces that are chunky or have knobs for easy grabbing and distinct spaces to put the pieces. As your child becomes more accomplished, you can challenge her with floor puzzles that have 12 pieces or more. Use spatial words such as “edge” and “corner” as you work together.

#### Teach Cooperation with Everyday Items

Completing a puzzle or creating a mural with your child can help develop teamwork and collaboration skills.

### Build Block Towers

Block play is another great way to explore spatial relations. Work with your child to build towers, using terms like "top," "bottom" and "in between." Make a long train with blocks and use words like "next to," "in front of" and "behind." Challenge your child to match your own creative block design — then try to match his!

#### Chock-a-Block Zoo

Your child can explore early geometry in this game by helping Curious George assemble animal puzzles from square blocks.

### Practice Rights and Lefts

Have your child practice his rights and lefts by dancing to the Hokey Pokey. If he has not learned to
distinguish his right from his left yet, tie a piece of yarn around his right hand so he'll have a visual reminder.

#### Exploring Space by Hunting for Treasure

Your child will be hunting for treasure up, down and all around in this fun treasure hunt activity that focuses on developing spatial language skills.

### Make a Symmetrical Painting

Fold a piece of paper in half and have your child paint on one side only. While the paint is still wet, fold the paper fully in half again so that the wet side touches the dry side. When you unfold it, you'll discover that you created a symmetrical painting!

#### Paint-a-long

Drawing is a great way to help your child develop an understanding of shapes. In this online game, your child can draw individual shapes, combine shapes to form Peg and Cat characters, or free draw.

### Create an Obstacle Course

Using chairs, tables, pillows and anything else you have, create an indoor obstacle course! Use spatial words such as "over," "under," "through" and "around" to explain the route. You will help your child learn how to navigate through space while increasing their spatial vocabulary.

#### Host a Family Olympics

Your child can plan and create her own simple athletic events such as obstacle courses and cooperative races. She can even hold a medal ceremony after the games.

### Play House with Dolls

Playing with dolls, stuffed animals or action figures not only teaches important pretend play skills but also enhances your child’s spatial sense as they arrange furniture in rooms and place dolls in different positions. Use terms like "inside," "outside," "on," "over," "through" and "below" when you describe to your child what you see.

#### Chicken Blastoff

Peg and Cat are building rocket ships to send the farm animals into space. Your child can help identify and put together the correct shapes to build the perfect rocket for each set of animals.

### Go on a Treasure Hunt

Making and following a treasure map based on your living room or backyard will help your child translate a two-dimensional bird’s-eye view into the three-dimensional real world. Hide an object and mark it on the map with a red X for your child to hunt down. Then have your child draw a map and hide an object for you to find!