Spatial Thinking: Everyday Activities in the Classroom

Written by Julie Julian, Instructional Coach
“Spatial thinking, or reasoning, involves the location and movements of objects and ourselves,
either mentally or physically, in space. It is not a single ability or process but actually refers to a
considerable number of concepts, tools and processes.”
–National Research Council, 2006
WHY make it an everyday part of your classroom routine:
· There is a strong connection between spatial thinking and mathematical performance· Spatial thinking can be improved through education and experience· Schools play an important role in fostering spatial reasoning in a currently underserved area· Spatial reasoning provides multiple entry points to explore mathematics in an inclusive way
Have the students work collaboratively to:· Visualize· Verbalize· Verify
Emphasize playful pedagogy(regardless of age):· Flip gradual release of responsibility upside down!o Try YOU DO, WE DO, I DO
· Notice how students engage in the processes of:o Visualizationo Mental Rotationo Visual-Spatial working memoryo Information processingo Spatial languageo Gestures Where am I going to find the time if it’s not part of the curriculum?!
· Use spatial thinking activities as brain breaks, but call them BRAIN BOOSTERS because that’s
what they are!· 10 minutes a day will help students with numeracy and mathematical thinking, so it’s worth it!
Every time you see [V] for Visualization attached to a math outcome that’s spatial thinking, in
addition to the entire Space and Shape (GEOMETRY) strand:
· Mapping & planning (Social Studies & Science) and coding (Technology)· Physical/Outdoor Education· Perspective taking (Art)· GO 1 & 5 in ELA-intentionally plan a spatial reasoning activity where you are listening for and
assessing how students work together and communication their ideas and understanding. TRY THESE:Hole Punch Symmetry ChallengeGive students squares of paper and a single hole punch. Challenge them to make the same
pattern shown on the Smartboard with one punch.

Find more here: Perspective TakingChallenge students to build the following with Unifix cubes:

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