As most of you know from my bio, I am pursuing a career as a psychiatrist with a focus in child and adolescent development. Spatial awareness is the capacity of being aware of yourself in space. It is systematized knowledge of objects in connection to yourself in any given space. Spatial awareness also encompasses understanding the connection of these objects when there is an alteration to the position. The activity that I am about to share with you is a great way to not only foster spatial awareness in your child, but to also practice fine motor skills by using scissors and gently introducing your child to geometry in a fun hands on way!
Using scissors requires your child to use hand separation by using their index, middle, and thumb separately from their ring and pinkie finger. This can be a little difficult if the child is younger with smaller hands. Most 3-4 year olds are developed enough to use the skills necessary for using scissors. Keep in mind that every child is different and develops at his or her own rate. So if they aren’t there yet, there is nothing to be frustrated about because scissor skills are not usually fully developed and steady until the child is around 6 years old. If your child is not yet ready for scissor use, this is something good to do with older children who are used to using scissors and they can cut the pieces out for their younger sibling, and complete the activity together.
Here is the activity:
Making a Tangram
Tangram is an ancient Chinese puzzle. The word tangram literally translates to “seven boards of skill.” Your child will develop his spatial awareness and get an introduction to basic geometry as he or she makes their own tangram, using it to create two different mathematical shapes. He or she can take things a step further by creating their own pictures and shapes using the seven pieces
What You Will Need:
- 6 ½-inch square sheet of card stock
- Colored felt-tip pens or pencils (six or seven different colors)
- Tangram templates and pieces
What You Do:
- Print out a sample template and a set of pieces.
- Ask your child to color each segment in the template a different color.
- Ask your child to carefully glue the template to the card.
- When the glue is dry, help your child to cut out the tangram pieces.
- Jumble up the pieces and see how quickly your child can make a square from the pieces.
- Mix the pieces up again and see if he can improve his assembly time.
- Mix the pieces up again and see if he is able to make a rectangle.
- Ask your child to make other pictures using the pieces.
Try playing other games with your tangram. Here’s one idea: make a second tangram set. Give your child one set, and arrange the other into a shape. Challenge your child to arrange her set into the same shape.