Visual perception and spatial awareness are two skills that most adults take for granted – but children actually have to develop these skills.
Kids learn, for example, that as they walk towards something, they get closer to it, and it becomes visually larger.
Fine motor skills are closely related to spatial awareness, as well.
“As young children grow, they develop a better sense of the proximity of “things” relative to their body,” says Alice Morrison, OTRL, an occupational therapist with Mott Children’s Hospital.
“Developing good spatial awareness and fine motor skills allows kids to control their limbs and movement with greater precision.”
A child with poor spatial awareness may appear clumsy, often bumping into things or seeming to stand too far or too close to things.
For most kids, it comes pretty naturally – but others may benefit from a little practice.
DIY Spider Web Game
Here’s an easy activity doesn’t require a lot of supplies and can help your child’s development.
“This spider web activity is a great activity to help children with a few skills — visual perception, fine motor skills, and finger strength,” says Morrison.
What you’ll need:
- Laundry basket (the kind with lots of holes on the sides
- Plastic spiders (Halloween spider rings work well) or some other kind of small plastic bug
- Clothespin, extra-large tweezers, or kitchen tongs
Take the yarn and weave it across the basket and through the holes to create a spider web-like effect (don’t worry — it doesn't have to be perfect or symmetrical).
Depending on your child’s age and abilities, you may want to start off with a fairly simple “web” and then make it more intricate as your child plays.
Once you’ve created the web, drop a few plastic spiders to the bottom of the laundry basket. Not a fan of spiders? Try fuzzy pompoms, balls of crumpled paper, little toys – feel free to mix it up!
Show your child how to use a clothespin, extra-large tweezers, or kitchen tongs to retrieve the spiders without touching the yarn (or at least trying to avoid the yarn).
“Before your child even starts to retrieve the spider, ask him or her to visualize the route they’ll take. Have your child explain the route to you. This helps build their visual perception and spatial awareness skills.”
You can turn it into a game, with each player taking turns removing as many spiders as they can without touching the yarn.
Play around with different retrieval tools and make your spider web easier or more complex depending on your child’s interest and abilities.
“The object your child uses to retrieve the spider can help her build fine motor and finger strength. Something like the extra-large kid-friendly tweezers or kitchen tongs will require more finger strength than a clothespin because the child has to keep the other two pinched closed while they remove the spider. With the clothespin, she just needs to open it to grab the spider,” says Morrison.
Inspired by an activity from MomInspiredLife.com.
Other motor skill and fitness activities from Camp Little Victors: