Spatial concepts are an IEP objective for most of my students. I usually find myself struggling for natural activities that will give lots of practice with understanding or using spatial concepts. Its fairly easy for me to identify when this skill is lacking, but treatment sometimes has me stumped. I have thought a lot about different ways to work on this skill and as a result, this blog post was born!
For starters, lets talk about development. Linguisystems has a downloadable chart that outlines when each concept should be emerging. It also provides developmental norms for acquisition of other concepts including colors, matching skills, etc. This chart is useful to reference when writing IEP goals. Working with preschoolers, I typically focus on teaching “in,” “on,” “under,” “next to,” “in front of,” “behind,” and “between”.
In my opinion, the best way to teach these concepts is by using manipulative objects. I hide an object under/on/behind, etc. the table or other object and try to have the student find it and describe the location. In group or classroom sessions, I try to encourage spatial concepts as they occur more naturally. Often, this involves following directions such as lining up behind a certain peer, cleaning up toys by putting them on the shelf, getting materials next to the books, etc. Classroom sessions often provide the most functional therapy!
For those students who need a bit more structure, books can be used to practice labeling pictures of more naturalistic/functional scenarios. Snow on Snow on Snow by Cheryl Chapman uses spatial concepts on almost every page! Aside from the written story line, the pictures provide lots of opportunities to expand on character location using words including “on,” “under,” and “next to”. Interactive books with velcro pieces also provide more structure within lessons.
Hopefully you have found some inspiration from this post! What other ways do you teach spatial concepts? What activities do you incorporate?