Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Visual Spatial Skills

Things have been quiet around the blog lately, for which I apologize.  Being a new teacher is much more difficult and time consuming than I had ever expected.  I am going in early, staying late and working both Saturdays and Sundays to try to keep up (I'm only able to sit down to write this post because I stayed home sick today).  It breaks my heart, but Xander's school has had to take a back seat for a while.  Instead, we have been focusing on reading a lot of books together and making his play educational.  One area we have been focusing on is visual spatial skills.

Last fall I attended a educational conference.  While I learned many interesting and useful things, one interesting fact really made an impression on me when it comes to Xander's education.  I learned that one of the biggest predictors of math and science achievement in school is the ability to mentally manipulate three dimensional objects.  In fact, the presenters talked about giving art lessons to kids struggling in math to help build these skills, which improved their achievement.

Since then, I've slowly been collecting toys and games that build these visual spatial skills (It sounds like we have a lot, but we definitely do it on a budget.  Michaels often has great games, so we wait for a 50% off coupon.  Xander also gets these types of toys for Christmases and Birthdays).  You can see all of our favorites on our Toys and Tools page.

We both LOVE building toys.  Magnatiles are, by far, Xander's favorites.  They are the most expensive toy I've ever purchased, but get used almost daily.  He also enjoys building with blocks, Marble RunWedgits, Duplos and other building toys.

 Template Matching
We are fortunate enough to have lots of template matching type toys.  Xander enjoys Magnetic RingsBlock Buddies, Imaginets and Pattern Play.  While he does work to match the pattern cards, he also really just enjoys making his own patterns and designs with these toys.
I've also worked on making some of my own activities that work on these skills.  I want Xander exposed to them often, but don't want him getting bored.  I pulled together all of the printables I've made into this one page so it'll be easier for others to find.
We've also slowly been building our collection of visual spatial games.  Xander likes Castle Logic and Color Code.  We also recently picked up Penguins on Ice and Temple Trap, although he still needs a little help with these.

What are your favorite visual spatial toys?  Have you found any other good printables for these skills?  Please leave me a comment, I would love to check it out!

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