What is Spatial Awareness?
- Position in Space– where an object is in space in relation to yourself and others. This skill includes awareness of the way an object is oriented or turned. It is an important concept in directional language such as in, out, up, down, in front of, behind, between, left, and right. Children with problems with this skill area will demonstrate difficulty planning actions in relation to objects around them. They may write letter reversals after second grade. They typically show problems with spacing letters and words on a paper.
- Depth Perception– Distances between a person and objects. This ability helps us move in space. Grasping for a ball requires realizing where the ball is in relation to ourselves. Kids with deficits in this area may have trouble catching a ball or walking/running/jumping over an obstacle. Copying words from a vertical plane onto a horizontal plane may be difficult and they will have trouble copying from a blackboard.
- Topographical Orientation– Location of objects in an environment, including obstacles and execution of travel in an area. Kids with difficulties in this area may become lost easily or have difficulties finding their classroom after a bathroom break.
Spacing Tool Activity for Kids with Spacing Problems in Handwriting
More visual spatial relations activities (that cost little to nothing!):
- Create an obstacle course using couch cushions, chairs, blankets, pillows, and other items in the house.
- Try this activity for teaching over, under, around, and through with pretend play.
- Create a paper obstacle course. Draw obstacles on paper and have your child make his /her pencil go through the obstacles. Draw circles, holes, mud pits, and mountains for them to draw lines as their pencil “climbs”, “jumps”, “rolls”, and even erases!
- Write words and letters on graph paper. The lines will work as a guide and also a good spacing activity.
- Use stickers placed along the right margin of to cue the student that they are nearing the edge of paper when writing.
- Highlight writing lines on worksheets.
- Draw boxes for words on worksheets for them to write within.
- Play Simon Says
- Practice directions. Draw arrows on a paper pointing up, down, left, and right. Ask your child to point to the direction the arrow is pointing. Then have them say the direction the arrows are pointing. Then create actions for each arrow. Up may be jumping. Down may be squatting. The Left arrow might be side sliding to the left, and the Right arrow might be a right high kick. Next, draw more rows of arrows in random order. Ask your child to go through the motions and try to go faster and faster.
Toys and Tools to help Kids with Spatial Awareness
Looking for more tools to improve visual spatial awareness? While the ideas below are most definitely NOT free or inexpensive, they are great for improving visual tracking and visual scanning in fun ways. These toys, games, and ideas may be a great gift idea for little ones who have visual perceptual difficulties or problems with spacing and handwriting, body awareness in space, letter reversals, detail awareness, or maintaining place while reading. SO, save these ideas for grandparents and friends who might ask for gift ideas for birthdays and holidays. These are some powerhouse spatial awareness ideas!
threading toy. Kids can use a unique pen to create lined designs and come away with a project they made on their own…while working on spacing.
Kanoodleworks on pattern recognition, spatial reasoning, and is a great way to practice spacing needed in handwriting.
as a spacing tool. Kids can write while keeping the small eraser on their desk. When they space out words, use the eraser as a measuring tool, just like our button buddy. You can also encourage them to finish their writing task and then go back and check over their work for spatial concepts with the eraser.
to draw dots between each word, to provide a visual cue for spacing between words. You can also draw a line along the edge of the paper for a visual cue that the child is nearing the edge of the paper.
Many times, spacing problems on paper have to do with difficulties with directional awareness.
to start at the basics and practice naming left/write/top/bottom. Use them in whole-body movement activities where the child copies motions based on the arrow placement. Watch to make sure kids are not over stepping their allotted space.
for spacing on paper with physical cues for margins and spacing. Use the wikki sticks to space between words and a “ball” of the wikki stick to space between words.