Spatial reasoning is the ability to visualize shapes and objects in different ways and draw conclusions about those shapes. It’s this strong ability that architects use when designing a building or that a sculptor uses when planning a design. This skill is often overlooked in traditional schooling but is a vital skill to develop. Children with well-developed spatial reasoning skills often perform better at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) tasks. The following apps help develop these skills, but it is equally important for early learners to play with hands-on objects such as blocks, puzzles, tangrams, or pattern blocks to develop these skills.
Spatial Reasoning App Reviews
Dragon Shapes Lumio Geometry Challenge (iOS only)
This app walks children through an introduction to shapes through tangram puzzles. As they are presented with a puzzle, a sidebar introduces them to the shape and distinguishing features about the shape. The shapes include triangles, squares, rectangles, hexagons, trapezoids, pentagons, and rhombi. As children solve the puzzles, the ideas that shapes can form larger composite shapes or designs is reinforced. The shapes in the app are able to be manipulated and turned fairly easily. There are four levels of game play in the app, and there is a storyline involving the rescue of the village dragon that is developed through completion of each level. The app costs $2.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad.
Montessori Geometry is filled with games, free exploration activities, and other learning gems in the traditional teaching style of Maria Montessori. There are games for playing with shapes, learning activities that connect kids to seeing shapes in the “real world,” and a dynamic 3D exploration activity for kids to rotate and interact with every side of the shape. The app presents the formal language for all of the shapes so you won’t just hear the words circle and triangle but also the specific technical terms, such as scalene triangle. The games are in the classic Montessori style, so kids are able to use self-correction and move from activity to activity. There is also a point tracking feature where kids can earn medals while they are playing. The app costs $3.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad.
Cyberchase 3D Builder (iOS, Android, and Kindle)
In Cyberchase 3D Builder, encourages kids use flat 2D shapes to build 3D structures. There are eight levels of play to keep kids interested and really amp up the difficulty. The app strength is in developing the relationship between flat and 3D shapes. The app does provide prompts as the levels increase in difficulty for children who may need assistance. Overall the app is a fun experience where kids won’t even realize they are learning. The app is free and appropriate for children ages 4-8.
Tangram for Osmo (iOS only)
The Osmo tangram kit comes with tangram pieces that interact with the iPad. Download the free Osmo tangram app to get started. Osmo offers a nice Getting Started section to familiarize your child with the use of the pieces and their interaction with the screen. The child must arrange the tangram pieces to match the on-screen arrangement. The Osmo system detects the tangram pieces to check to see if they match the shapes on the screen. While constructing the pictures, your child is developing important visual spatial skills. After your child completes the Getting Started section, the app offers different pictures for your child to choose from and construct with the tangram pieces. The app also indicates the level of the pictures from easiest to hardest by color-coding them yellow, orange, and red. The yellow puzzles offer color clues, and the orange puzzles offer black-and-white shapes. The app does offer a hint button if needed to complete the puzzles. The hardest level offers just one solid black outline. Arranging the tangram pieces is challenging, engaging, and also fun to complete with a friend.