Spatial Relations

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Inservice: One Session on Spatial Relations

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A short session around spatial relations can support moving beyond thinking about spatial relations as identifying the shapes, expanding their conceptualization of spatial relations and helping them see opportunities to support learning. 

Professional Development: 2 Hours

This quick session engages participants in readings, video, and activities to push their understanding of spatial relations and make connections to their own work with children.

Preparation: To prepare for this session, read What Children Know and Need to Learn about Space and Shape.


What is involved in young children’s spatial knowledge?  What can young children work on?


What does it look like for young children to use their spatial relations knowledge?

  • Watch: the first video on this page of Bianca and Joaquim making maps together. Discuss what the participants noticed about the child’s knowledge of spatial relations. What other school activities might support this spatial relations work?


What can we do to engage young people in developing their spatial relations?  How can we extend the tasks we are already doing?

  • Engage participants in the activity Using Picture Books: Spatial Relations.
  • As you engage with participants you want to highlight the mathematical work that teachers can do that involves naming, and describing things in relation to each other ("I see a book. It is on the table, next to the cup."). Help participants get familiar with the spaces in classrooms where there are opportunities to develop these ideas and the questions they can ask to support the development of children’s spatial thinking.
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