Following Direction Activities | The OT Toolbox

Following Direction Activities

These following direction activities are directionality activities that can help kids learn directions or spatial concepts such as left, right, up, down, and compass directions (north, south, east, and west) with a motor component. This hands-on learning activity really gets the kiddos moving and learning! 

We've shared directionality activities before that help kids navigate and use maps with movement. 

Following Direction Activity

These direction following activities can help kids learn directionality such as left/right awareness, laterality, and directions needed for navigating.


Teaching kids to follow the directions they need to physically move right, left, up, down requires development of spatial concepts such as spatial reasoning. This can be a real challenge for some kids! 

Following directions and understanding of spatial concepts is a foundation for understanding and utilizing compass directions or the cardinal directions of north, south, east, and west, and the use of maps. 

Left Right Confusion Direction Challenges

It can be a real challenge for some kids who struggle with the spatial understanding of following directions, or understanding their left from right in a subconscious manner. 

Have you come across the child who is told to raise their right and and they take a five second count to stop, think, and then raise their hand? They might hesitate when raising one hand or the other and still be uncertain whether or not they have held up the correct hand. Then, when the teacher, parent, or anyone else really, says the inevitable, "Your other right hand...", the child feels a sense of discouragement and self-consciousness that doesn't drive in the underlying need to really know the right from left! 

That's where a directionality activity or following direction activity can come into play. Adding a physical component to learning directions and the difference between right, left, up, and down and what that looks like in relation to the child's body can be such a helpful force in driving home this concept. 

Why work on directions with kids?

Working on the ability for kids to follow directions and spatial concepts is so important for kids. The direction/spatial relationship/preposition words that tell you where something is related to something else (beside, in front of, behind, over, under, around,  through, last, etc.) are very important when teaching math and handwriting concepts. Directionality and the ability for kids to follow physical directions is important for discovering where their bodies are in relationship to objects. This translates to following directions when getting from place to place by following a map or the cardinal directions.

When kids picture a scene in their mind's eye and use that image to draw a map on paper, they are using higher thinking skills and spatial reasoning.

Directionality Activities

Amazon affiliate links are included below. 

The fun idea below comes from a new kids' activity book that we're devouring. It's the new Playful Learning Lab for Kids, by the occupational therapist and physical therapist team at The Inspired Treehouse. It's a book full of whole-body and sensory activities that enhance focus, engagement, and learning through movement and interaction.

Playful learning Lab activities for kids to learn through whole body movements

We used just a few materials to create this following directions activity:

Playful Learning Lab for Kids Book
Cardstock
Marker
Scissors

Use arrows to work on following directions and learning directions or directionality.

This is a simple activity (perfect for the classroom or homeschool when teaching directions!). First, draw and cut out large arrows from the cardstock. 

Next, place them along the floor in a path and start playing! 

Teach kids about directions and left right awareness or directionality through whole body movements with arrows!

There are so many ways to use these arrows to work on following directions and directionality:

1. Place the arrows on the floor for a fun brain break or sensory walk that uses directions as the kids work on following directions to stand in the direction the arrows are pointing. 

Direction following activities with arrows are a fun way to teach kids directionality and teach left and right with movement.

2. Name a cardinal direction or spatial direction and ask the child to point to the corresponding arrow. 

3. Place the arrows in a compass rose on the floor and ask kids to "step into a map" on the floor as they move north, south, east, and west.

Teach spatial concepts and spatial reasoning with arrows.

4. Stick the arrows to a wall using tape. Ask the students to write out a list of words that describe the directions the arrows are pointing (left, right, up, and down).

5. Hold up a sequence of arrows pointing in different directions. As the child to remember the pattern or order as they complete a series of side steps, front steps, or backward steps to follow the directions they see. 

6. Work on left/right directionality by holding up an arrow pointing in either the left or right directions. Kids should call out "Left!" or "Right!" when they see the direction the arrow is pointing. 

Teach kids directions and north, south, east, west using arrows and directionality concepts.

All of these following direction activities are ones that can be completed as on an individual basis or with a whole group. It's a great mini brain break for the classroom and can be incorporated into the classroom curriculum by working on cardinal directions. 


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It's available now and is the perfect way to add movement to learning to improve attention, focus, brain function, remembering and learning!

This book will shift your entire mindset so you can begin to replace sedentary, one-dimensional lessons and worksheets with whole-body, multi-sensory activities that can instantly create a classroom or house full of active, engaged learners.

Playful Learning Lab for Kids is available on Amazon. If you get it now through November 13th, you can get an additional 20+ page pages of bonus materials. 

To get the bonus items, purchase Playful Learning Lab for Kids on Amazon and then just email your receipt of purchase to  theinspiredtreehouse@gmail.com. You don't want to miss this!