Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Few of Our Favorite Things

Some of our favorite Shape Space activities were kept for ThinkSpace – all of them great spatial thinking tools:

Unit blocks are basic wooden blocks that kids of all ages and grown-ups love to play with. There’s a lot of research that shows their value. They’re completely open-ended. There’s an element of pretend or dramatic play.

Jovo® shapes snap together to make different polyhedra – triangles make a pyramid and squares make a cube. They’re a fantastic manipulative that demonstrates the relationship between the 2-D and 3-D worlds. Kids (and adults!) love to put their creations up on the show-off shelf to share what they've built.

Magna-Tiles® are magnetic and allow little kids to do something similar to Jovos with an easier mechanism for them. They also explore in different ways, stacking or lining them up.

The Shape Talk game prompts visitors to use spatial language, to think about and articulate spatial relations – where something goes in relation to something else.  There’s evidence that spatial language is incredibly important for spatial thinking. Spatial language is not just shape names but it’s also about location – above, below, between. It’s about movement – across, navigate, pathway. It’s about size – big, expand, high, little, long. It’s about orientation – around, down, horizontal. It’s about how things are curved or straight. It’s about congruence – whether something is alike or different or identical or similar. It’s about construction – creating, developing, making, placing. It’s about rotation – flipping, rotating, spinning, twisting. And it’s about transformation – distorting, squishing, transforming.

We’ve already observed a lot of visitors using spatial language and have seen a difference in how Shape Talk is being played in its new formation, and in how the other activities are being used. We look forward to seeing more great spatial play!

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