Spatial Thinking Strategies: Promoting cognitive processes in the elementary classroomby: Susan Everett

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While some people consider spatial thinking a “gift” that only some individuals have, many others view spatial thinking as a cognitive process that can be developed. Much research supports the developmental view of spatial thinking as a cognitive process. With the understanding that spatial thinking can be developed, this article describes what teachers can do to provide opportunities to help promote cognitive processes in the elementary classroom.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (3)
  • on Wed Nov 30, 2016 8:08 PM

I thought the article had some great points that I already use in the classroom. The article was taking about letting students use hands on activities for science and math. For example in math, the students use math manipulatives. In science there must be hands on experience for students to get the complete understanding. Also many of the children’s toys are used for educational experiences and gains. Another great point for the article was using open end questions. Most of the teachers use this type of questioning for all subjects. The open ended questions allow students to explain their own work. Teachers can use this as a form of assessment and with open ended questions; the teachers will get a variety of answers and discussions. Also letting students start a classroom discussion is another way to some understanding from the students. Having a specific activity is another way to keep students engaged. Open ended activities allow students to create a way to solve problems, work with their peers, and make different predictions about the solution. This activity will allow each group or students to have their own ending. This is one activity that I am going to try in my classroom.


  • on Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:27 AM

The author sums up the content of this article in the following statement..."Using various questions to challenge young students and to stimulate their thinking, choosing open-ended activities, and using a student-centered inquiry approach to teaching helps the development of students’ spatial-thinking abilities while they learn both mathematics and science." The author gives examples of questioning of which is not to ask "why" because young students are not ready to answer that question yet...they are still discovering the world. Several activities to help students develop their thinking skills are also presented in this article.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:32 PM

Piaget's theory of cognitive development supports that spatial thinking can be developed. With the understanding of this view, the article provides some advices about how teachers can help promote the development of cognitive processes, especially spatial-thinking skills, in the elementary classroom. First of all, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (1993) recommends that educators can help improve elementary students’ spatial ability by manipulatives. Therefore, educators should provide more hands-on science activity programs or mathematics manipulatives in teaching, which can promote students’ participation and thinking. Based on hands-on science activities, this article suggests that educators should give more open-ended questions, choose appropriate activities and stimulate students’ potential. In my opinion, the sequence of those three advices should be the choice of activities, open-ended questions and stimulate students’ potential. Firstly, educators choose appropriate activities, open-end activities or the activity can be solved by different ways, which can develop students’ spatial thinking. Students can think in different ways and pursue their own way to solve a problem. Secondly, in the teaching process, educators should ask more open-ended questions, which can help students to think their work deeply and engage in the activity. According to this article, “What” and “How” question promotes learners to find answers. “Why” questions should be used with caution, or students may doubt themselves. Finally, I think that developing students’ potential is one of the goals of activities. Questions and activities challenge students and promote their thinking. Though that, students’ spatial-thinking abilities and potential are developed. In conclusion, although this article mix stimulating students’ potential as a method to promote spatial-thinking skills, it still give an application model of Piaget’s theory to help educators to create their own educational mode and environment. As a teacher, we should provide students more opportunities and spaces to think in different ways.


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