How do we, as teachers, help children develop their spatial awareness? How do we gauge their feelings, emotions and attitudes? This can be achieved by conducting movement activities especially designed to enhance these areas.
When I talk about spatial awareness I am referring to developing your students’ perspective of space high above, in the middle and below them. This can be in relation to:
- Space on the spot;
- Space on the move;
- Space around the self;
- Space between self and others; and
- Space in the room
When I was a drama specialist I used the following movement activities to assist my students develop their spatial awareness. These activities work well with junior primary: K-3.
Your Heart Rate and Movement
You will need: a large space for your students to move around and access to play some music.
1. Show your students how to find their heart rate. You could do this by showing how to hold 2 fingers to their neck or on their wrist.
2. When students have found their heart rate, get them to step around the room in time with the beat of their heart. Remind your class to avoid contact with other students.
3. When all students are walking in time, get them to alternate between stepping and clapping. They would do one step, one clap – still trying to go in time with their heart beat.
4. When students have mastered this, move on to playing some slow music. Get your students to walk around the room in time with the music. Again when they have grasped this, get them to alternate between walking and clapping in time with the music.
5. Change the music to use something that has a faster beat and repeat the above step.
This activity concentrates on observation, breathing, clapping, posture and timing of the participant. It is an easy introduction for children, which does not require a great deal of time and resources to set up.
Movement of Arms and Legs
You will need: a large space for your students to move around.
1. Students need to move their arms around in a circle for 8 beats.
2. Get your students to start with their arms above their heads. The teacher counts to 8 and the students need to move their arms in a circle from the top to the bottom.
3. Do this again, but this time students start at the bottom and work their way to the top.
4. Emphasise to your students that timing is crucial, as you do not want their arms to reach either the top or bottom before the eight beats.
5. Now do this again and this time get your students to walk around the room in time with your counting, while still moving their arms around in a circle.
6. Complete a few variations of this by changing the number of beats to six, four or two.
Groups of Three
You will need: a large space for your students to move around
1. Put students in groups of 3.
2. After each instruction below students need to make a new group of 3. With younger students you may need to help them form new groups.
3. Get the students to take three different height levels, tall, medium and short. When each group has done this then tell your students to now make a new group of 3.
4. Get the students to make vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines with the body. Form a new group.
5. Get the group to now be a spoon, fork and knife. Form a new group.
6. Now get the group to form their own set of 3 things. An example could be: electric toothbrush, toothpaste and a tooth.
7. When students have practiced their set of 3, get them to share with the other groups.
When I was in primary school I don’t ever remember participating in any movement activities. We had physical education classes, but it was not about exploring space around others and myself.
Teaching your students about spatial awareness and incorporating movement activities in your program can help to enhance other skills in children. It is a great tool in developing social skills which can help students in playing games.
I hope you are able to use some of these ideas in your lessons. Do you use movement activities with your students? Please share your experiences in the comments below.