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Sally over at Fairy Dust Teaching wrote a great post about the developmental stages of block play. Math at Play has a whole series of posts on block play too that are gold. I had read this post from Education Week about spatial skills being seen as the key to Math learning. This text Blocks and Beyond: Strengthening Early Math and Science Skills Through Spatial Learning (affiliate link) defines 'spatial literacy (often referred to in other literature as spatial reasoning, spatial cognition, spatial concepts, spatial intelligence, cognitive mapping, and mental mapping (Elliot, 1987; Gardner, 1983; Kitchin & Freundschuh, 2000; Newcombe & Huttenlocher, 2000)) as the ability to problem-solve operations, such as mental rotation (a spatial skill that involves thinking about objects in different spatially oriented ways), perspective change (visualizing things from different perspectives), coordinated use of space (coordinating how different space is used in relation to other space), representation (representing one object to mean another object or place, as in a map), and reasoning (ability to understand how items are arranged in space and in relation to one another).' (Pollman, M.J., 2010)
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Some studies have specifically found spatial thinking to be related to proficiency in overall mathematics (Ansari et aL, 2003; Stewart, Leeson, & Wright, 1997). “Mathematics” in this sense, and as used in this hook, is mathematics literacy and is not strictly concerned with “numeracy,” as has been the instructional emphasis in the past. Mathematics literacy includes not only knowledge of numbers and operations but geometry, measurement, data analysis, and algebra. Spatial visualization takes place in the right part of the brain. The right brain is known to derive thinking and perception as a whole. Spatial visualization is different from verbal reasoning. Verbal reasoning takes place in the left part of the brain. The left brain is known for sequential and logical thinking and for the ability to combine parts into a whole and to put things in order (Newcombe & Huttenlocher, 2000). Because of location in distinct and separate parts of the brain, the processes of spatial visualization and verbal reasoning are related but nonetheless distinct. It has been found that mental rotation and spatial abilities are better predictors of performance on the mathematics section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) than math anxiety or self-confidence in math (Casey, Nuttall, & I’ezaris, 1997).'(Pollman, M.J., 2010).
Last year while working at a preschool, I was concerned by the absence of sustained block play. I made these picture challenge cards as a provocation, an invitation to play that promotes spatial learning.
Blocks plus magnets = two of my favourites so I was puzzled as to why they didn't get much use.I love using books as prompts and am often adding other items to the block corner so I made some challenge cards that to encourage and extend the block play at preschool.
What have you added to your block area to encourage play? Or has anyone read Blocks and Beyond and used any of the activities in their classrooms? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
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