Babies Walkers to 2 2s to 3s 3s to 4s

Overview and benefit

Spatial awareness is the ability to see the position of two or more objects in relation to each other and to oneself in space – to understand how much space an object takes up and how it can fit with another object, either on or in or next to etc. Children need to understand about size and shape and weight and to be able to make some comparisons between objects. The best way for children to learn this is through experience of handling objects and putting objects together. Good small spatial awareness is needed to handle objects and tools successfully and has even been linked to reading and numeracy. Spatial awareness in general is needed for good organisation skills, presentation skills and even in structuring written work.

Equipment required

  • Background music
  • Toy cars
  • Ribbons, kitchen roll tunes, margarine tubs, duplo


One to two weeks

How it works

This activity uses toy cars and imaginative play to explore spatial awareness. Provide children with some small toy cars and encourage them to do different tasks with them based on real life situations.

What to do in the class

Activities might include:

  • ‘Parking’ cars into ‘garages’. Give each child three cars and a margarine tub. The children can put the tub on its side (the parent will need to hold it upright) and have the children drive their cars in and park them. Can they get all the cars in together. If not, where else can they park the car (perhaps under Mummy’s leg!)
  • Driving cars through ‘tunnels’. Give each child a small car and a kitchen roll. Tell children to drive their cars along the road and through their tunnels. Alternatively place a range of different ‘tunnels’ around the room and have all the children driving around the hall, moving their cars through the different tunnels.
  • Driving along ‘roads’ – give children a couple of ribbons or 2 skipping ropes. With their parents help encourage them to make a road with them and drive their car along it. Towards the end of the activity the instructor could lay out a long, winding road for all the children to drive their cars along towards the ‘car park’ to pack them away. You could also give out/place some quoits to act as roundabouts.
  • Driving around ‘rocks’ – give the children some duplo building blocks and a car. Pretend the blocks are rocks in the road and get the children to drive their cars around the rocks.
  • Driving under and over ‘bridges’ – When driving their toy cars, the parent can become a human bridge/tunnel – can the child drive the car through their parent’s legs, or under their arms/hands (if sitting down). Can they then drive their cars under their own legs. Make bridges with other objects such as duplo or building blocks.

Toy Cars

What to do in a nursery setting

Work in the same way as in a class in a small circle encouraging the staff to work for a short time with each child.