Position in Space Discrimination Activities

What is Position in Space?

All objects are positioned in relation to other objects in space. Most children use visual perception to understand this relationship, although a blind child can use touch to recognize how two ends of a piece of string relate to one another as he ties a knot. Four-year-old children understand how prepositions are used to describe positional relationships as in the following examples:

  1. The coffee can lid is positioned on top of the can
  2. The earrings are inside the jewelry box.
  3. A button fits through a hole
  4. The tires are below the car.

What is Position in Space Discrimination?

Position in Space discrimination involves recognition of the spatial relationships between the parts of objects or shapes. Children use this skill to interpret which way an arrow is pointing and to draw the sun positioned above the flowers on the ground.

The ability to discriminate the position of objects and their parts is critical in order to interpret visual symbols. Put two dots (i.e. eyes) below a half circle (i.e. mouth) and we have dramatically altered the famous happy face. In fact, it is no longer recognizable. Position in space discrimination enables your child to recognize the difference between a smiling and frowning mouth and to discriminate letters and numbers.

Learning Left and Right

Position in space discrimination requires relatively advanced visual-perceptual skills because it oftens requires recognition of left and right. For example, a child uses position in space discrimination to know that the left mitten will go on the left hand because the thumb is position on the right side of the mitten.

Position in space discrimination is necessary in order to eventually read and write letters and words. It enables children to recognize that the letter L has the horizontal line extending to the right of the vertical line at the bottom (as shown above). Offer children objects such as blocks to learn about these spatial relationships!

Fitting Short Vertical Lines Between Long Horizontal Lines

I made the “railroad tracks” out of Velcro to demonstrate to children how lines can vary in height and length and the spatial relationships between them. This activity helps children understand how important position in space perception is when learning to form letters such as I, E and F. The following Velcro activity reinforces position in space discrimination in order to correctly place Velcro pieces to matching shapes on a board.

Learning about Diagonal Lines

Letters and numbers composed of diagonal lines are the most challenging and often confusing because children need to discriminate a left and right facing diagonals… / and \

Activities such as lacing letter X or performing simple mazes using diagonal lines help children to learn this important discrimination skills.

Matching, sorting or memory card games using diagonal shapes may be quite helpful in teaching these critical discrimination skills in order to correctly form letters such as A, M and V.

A Few More Position in Space Activities….

Driving Cars on Pretend Roads


Insertion Tasks

Insertion Tasks

Shape Sorters, Form Boards and Puzzles


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