Improve Your Kid’s Spatial Reasoning Skills with These 4 Apps

Spatial reasoning is an often overlooked skill that’s vital to develop in kids; we found some quality apps that can help.

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)

lumio

 

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 – Recognize and learn shapes (iOS only)

Montessori Geometry

 

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)

Cyberchase 3D Builder

 

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)

osmo tangram

 

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.

 

Check out more apps that develop spatial reasoning skills here.

 

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Maker Inspired Apps

Another big theme of last week’s conference, SXSWEdu, was the current Maker Movement.

 

Another big theme of last week’s conference, SXSWEdu, was the current Maker Movement.

It seems funny to an early childhood educator that the idea of tinkering, experimenting and testing hypothesis with various tools, is a new idea. This is what children do naturally when they play. It really isn’t a new idea, but it’s rise in popularity and the vast array of products flooding the market is new. There are after school programs, kits, curriculums, and toys that speak to this rising movement. Computer labs and libraries are reinventing their spaces into a Maker Space complete with engineering tools to create towers, robots, and circuits. The exciting part for me, is that these types of educational products are now readily accessible to children as young as five. They can use them to experiment with and learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM), all at the same time.

 

Maker Inspired Apps

Download the KinderTown app, and find these selected apps under the Science category to accompany the “Maker” in your home:

 

Monster Physics

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 8.11.48 PMThis app cultivates the experimenter in your child. The app also provides guided tutorials in the beginning to get your child acquainted with the tools and how they function. I found this section really valuable with children, and a great way to discover the app together. The tools in the app include wheels, magnets, claws, wood and plastic. Children combine the parts to make their own unique creation and see if it will solve one of the 50 missions presented in the app. The app combines open-ended experimentation with problem-solving. Your child will not realize they are tinkering with physics concepts such as friction, force, mass, acceleration and more. Parents, after you guide your child through the tutorial section, stick around as the missions become more challenging. Help your child think through trying different solutions to the “Missions” or problems presented. This app is appropriate for students ages 5-8, and is available for .99 (at time of publication for a limited time).

 

Bobo Explores Light

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 8.11.23 PM

This app is structured like a book but invites exploration into the concept of light through the guidance of a friendly Robot named Bobo. The introduction provides a nice overview to the interactive book about light. The app has moments where children are invited to tilt the iPad while flying through space. As you fly through space, there are stops along the way that present facts, interesting tidbits, and questions to further investigate. The facts in the book are not read aloud to children, so parents, help your child read and understand the information presented. Bobo Explores Light is suitable for children ages 5-8, and available for $4.99.

 

I think that the most important concept to take away from the Maker Movement is that you can never cultivate your child’s interests with hands on learning enough. Whether it is math, engineering, reading, or art, getting in touch with our children’s interests is an integral part of parenting. Look for after-school programs, summer camps and clubs as part of the Maker Movement popping up in your area too. Now, I look forward to the ways in which “Maker” companies will more closely pair apps with their products to influence children’s experimentation and learning with the Maker Movement.

 

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