Three activities to encourage spatial awareness in your preschooler

Photo : Supplied
Photo : Supplied

Spatial awareness is the organised knowledge of oneself and other objects in a given space. It’s what architects and engineers use when they design buildings, it’s the skill that helps a chemist to contemplate the three-dimensional structure of a molecule, or a surgeon to navigate the human body. It’s what Michelangelo used when he visualized a future sculpture trapped inside a lump of stone. It’s a complex mental skill which, if nurtured in a child, holds nothing but benefits.

For children, spatial awareness is helpful in understanding direction, distance, location and for depth perception. For example, if your child has spatial awareness, they’ll understand that as they walk towards a ball, the ball is coming closer to their own body. Children tend to naturally develop a sense of spatial awareness. For example, when your child reaches for a toy, they must learn how far to stretch the muscles in the arms to reach that toy. Over time, they’re able to reach for objects automatically and with accuracy. Though children all develop in their own way, spatial awareness is a skill that can be learned and developed through encouraging play that engages this skill. Here are three activities that will encourage your child’s spatial awareness, brought to you by Nestlé Nido.

1.The preposition game

Use a large object such as a chair or plastic crate and let your child take up different positions on, in or next to it. This doubles for practising prepositions. For example, if you yell “on!”, they must know to climb on top, or if you say “under!”, they must know to get under it. Start by writing different positions down on bits of paper and stuffing them in a hat. It’s a game for two players – either you and your child or two siblings or friends. They then take turns to pull commands out of the hat while the other child has to perform the position. The positions can be indicated on paper by a picture or a word, though pictures work best for preschoolers.

2. Build your own obstacle course

Few things are as fun as creating a game from nothing. This game can be played anywhere – in the back yard, in the house, or at school – and though cones such as those used in sports activities are handy, they are by no means necessary. This one is more fun if there’s a race involved, but for very young children, the mere act of trying to get through each obstacle is fun. Use anything in your immediate environment and show them the route to take. For example, first go over the couch, then under the table, then around the coffee table, then onto the chair and then run down the hall and jump on your bed. First one to reach the end gets a gold star!

3. Take them to Future Park!

Nestlé Nido recognises the importance of encouraging spatial awareness in your child’s early years and so we’ve joined forces with Future Park to bring you the Connecting Block Town game which, along with other skills, encourages spatial awareness in children. By placing wooden blocks on different places on the table, the child takes part in creating a virtual town where two similar blocks close to each other will create, for example, railway tracks. Spatial awareness is an important skill here as it helps them predict for example whether tracks will collide, or whether the tracks will have to cross the river created by other blocks on the table. The game also has a bird’s eye view projected onto another screen, which means they get to imagine the same scene from two different angles. 

Future Park features this game and others and is open at the V&A Waterfront until 31 January 2018, after which it moves to Gauteng. Tickets are available at Computicket. For more information about the exhibition, go to

More about Nestlé Nido

With all this learning going on, your child needs all the nutrients in the right amounts to ensure their brain has everything it needs for optimal development.

One such nutrient is omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential for your child’s brain and brain-cell development, helping them to learn better in future. It’s recommended that you supplement your child’s diet with omega-3 fatty acids, as the general South African diet doesn’t contain enough of these fats. That’s why Nido 3+ contains omega-3 fats (DHA) – and a whole list of other nutrients that will support your child’s development.