Documentation of Math – Specifically Spatial Relations

Division(s): Primary
Level(s): Kindergarten

Understanding Spatial Reasoning in kindergarten.

We are interested in learning more about spatial reasoning in early years. In the past year, we have come together as a team to investigate pedagogical documentation and we have learned about the value of this for better understanding early years students and being able to adjust our program to be responsive to students’ needs, interests and abilities. At the same time, our school’s focus has been on math learning. At a recent professional learning session, we heard about the value of letting students lead the learning in math with the support of a comfortable place and engaged learning partners. We know how to observe students carefully and take an asset approach to understand what they can do in the four frames.

We want to learn more about math learning; specifically, spatial awareness to understand how to recognize students’ thinking about spatial math and to be responsive in providing learning opportunities to stretch their spatial understanding.

Team Members

  • Heather Brown

    Greater Essex County District School Board

  • Kim Mulligan

    Greater Essex County District School Board

  • Melanie Menard

    Greater Essex County District School Board

  • Jenny Enns

    Greater Essex County District School Board

Professional Learning Goals

  • Better understood spatial reasoning in early learning
  • Documented spatial reasoning in a pedagogical way
  • Developed spatial reasoning learning opportunities for our Early Years program and developed take-home learning kits to engage students and families in spatial reasoning opportunities
  • Provided responsive spatial learning opportunities to students based on what we see in pedagogical documentation

Activities and Resources

  • Meet with district math coaches to support our understanding of spatial reasoning in early learning
  • Read and use activities in Taking Shape: Activities to Develop Geometric and Spatial Thinking and share our thinking about what this
    means for our program
  • Develop centres that support spatial reasoning
  • Develop take-home math kits
  • Invite parents in to participate in spatial reasoning learning
  • Meet to reflect on the pedagogical documentation of a few marker students and collaborate over next steps for spatial learning

Unexpected Challenges

  • Time – since spatial reasoning is not developed overnight, we offered many opportunities each day. Student learning is very individual and we needed to build skill sets before some of our students could see what the object of the lesson was.
  • Time for the educators – we valued the time we had together, but more time to discuss what we were learning in our classrooms would of been more beneficial
  • Developing spatial reasoning activities that we could differentiate to give opportunities to all of our learners. We used small group time to help guide this learning for our students.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

Kindergarten is an important time in students’ lives. We work on helping students  develop skills, relationships and confidence for learning. Using our newly revised curriculum for kindergarten, we focused on the four frames and where we could help develop a stronger understanding of spatial reasoning. We believe that the project enhanced student learning by providing them different learning opportunities that were rich and meaningful. When students see documentation of their learning reflected in their classroom space, they feel that they belong to the school learning community. This also encourages other learners in the classroom to want to try a new concept and be part of the new learning. When children look at documentation of their learning with their teacher,  it allows them to better understand what they have learned and encourages them to try a next step or something new that they were unaware of the first or second try. This encourages students to learn to recognize their strengths and areas for growth, and to set goals for their learning. The approach was open-ended and offered the comfort of trial and error. We let children explore individually, as partners and with educator guidance. As we make changes in our practice to nurture this type of learning, students next year and for years to come will benefit from us learning together.


  • We completed pre and post surveys about our understanding of spatial reasoning in early years and our efficacy about spatial reasoning learning
  • We collected evidence of spatial learning in our classroom through video, pictures and classroom visits of learning within observation
  • We provided spatial reasoning activities to be taken home and completed with family members
  • We shared our learning with our staff at a staff learning session: our approach, our actions, and our learning. We discussed with our district math coach about how we can spread the knowledge and help carry it up to the next grade.
  • We offered an open door to other teams completing math projects around spatial reasoning to join us in our classrooms to observe children’s learning in action
  • We participated in school-wide math learning on spatial reasoning and discussed the evidence of how the understanding has changed in some of our students because of the introduction of more spatial reasoning and math concepts within the classroom
  • We have invited other colleagues to join our learning journey to work on better understanding spatial reasoning in kindergarten and beyond the classroom

Project Evaluation

We believe that the project was a success and that with the support from the district math team and the opportunity to meet as a team, we were able to gather information and better understand how to help our students develop their skills in spatial reasoning and other math concepts.

Differently, it would be nice to have more observation time in alternate classrooms to see how each educator is encouraging the learning of spatial reasoning with their students and how we could each learn more from one another.

Resources Used

Taking Shape: Activities to Develop Geometric and Spatial Thinking by Bev Caswell, Catherine D. Bruce, Joan Moss, Tara Flynn and Zachary Hawes.