How to Teach Spatial Concepts (Freebie Included!)

    September 7, 2020 No Comments


    Teaching Spatial Concepts

    Ways to Teach Spatial Positions

    There are two ways to target position words: receptively and expressively.  


    Receptive Language refers
    to what we understand.  If we are working on position words for
    receptive language, we might ask the child to “put the bunny 
    on the table”.  The child is working on position words and the word “on”, but they don’t have to say anything. 


    Expressive Language refers
    to what we can say or communicate (through any means, sign language,
    pointing, gesturing, talking, etc.).  It doesn’t have to be verbal, but
    it does need to communicate something.  For this, we might put the bunny
    on the table and say “where is the bunny?”  We’d expect the child to
    communicate “on” (either through verbal or nonverbal communication


    How Parents Can Teach Position Words

    parents, we are our children’s first and most consistent teachers.  We
    can teach language by modeling it from an early age, birth!  You can use
    position words all day long.  “I’m putting your sock 
    on your foot.” “Let’s get the milk out of the fridge.”  “We are going to get in the
    car now.”  I often tell parents, if you’ve talked to the point that
    you’re tired and feel a little bit silly, you’re on the right track!

    Ways to Talk to Your Child During the Day: 

    • While getting them dressed.
    • While fixing their food.
    • Singing songs
    • Reading books or talking while looking at the pictures
    • While riding in the car (“look, I see a horse!”)
    • Giving them words when they don’t have any (“I can see that you are very sad right now!”)
    • While watching a movie
    • While getting ready for bed
    • While getting into or out of the car
    • While playing with toys
    • On an outing to the grocery store
    • While making a phonecall to a friend or relative

    Evidence Based Practice:


    Betty Hart, PhD and Todd Risely, PhD with the University of Kansas found
    in their research that the more words a child was exposed to, the
    better their academic performance was in school (regardless of
    socioeconomic status).  They described 30,000 words a day as their
    “magic number” for meaningful growth and success.  On paper, this looks
    like a LOT of words…but we can do this, as parents.  We can talk to
    our children throughout the day….even when they cannot talk
    themselves.  You can read more about this study and research here.

    The bottom line is that even if it feels silly or tiring by the end of
    the day, talking to your child can make a tremendous difference in their
    language development and future success in school. It’s a tool that
    doesn’t require any money, just a caregiver talking to the child.


    While 30,000 words sounds like a daunting task, many of us already do this and don’t even realize it.  You can do it!


    Turn Yourself Into an Animated Character


    Where’s the bunny?

    For a free printable version of bunny position words cards, check here.  




    In front 



    Books for Teaching Spatial Concepts 

    Interactive Books & Adapted Books (Print and Prep)

    Where’s Lucas? by Elizabeth Hepler

    Where’s the Barn Cat?  by Panda Speech

    Picture Books to Order

    Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

    Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres

    Llama Llama Hide and Seek by Anna Dewdney

    In-Between Things by Priscilla Tey

    Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch by Mary Peterson and Jennifer Rofe

    Yellow Ball by Molly Bang

    Songs for Teaching Spatial Concepts

    Itsy Bitsy Spider

    We’re Going on a Bear Hunt  


    Toys for Teaching Spatial Concepts

    Any toys can be used for teaching spatial concepts.  Just focus on modeling language and target terms like these: in, on, under, over, out, around.  


    Receptive Language: Play with your child and model what you’re doing.  “Let’s put the dog on.” 

    Expressive Language: Keep it simple. Model for your child “Put on”.   You can also work on the child’s expression by pausing to see if they fill in the blank.  “The dog is_____”. 

    Digital Resources for Teaching Spatial Concepts

     Interactive Book and 8 Boom Card Decks: Where’s Lucas

    Free Boom Cards: Where is the Mermaid?

    Best Selling Interactive Book and Game: There’s a Mouse in the House!

    Free Printables and Handouts  

    Super Duper Inc: Parent Handout on Basic Concepts

    20 Pages of Free Printables from Ausome Speech

    This is a free set of 20 pages of visuals for spatial positions.  Enjoy!

    Ausome SLP

    All posts

    No Comments

    Leave a Reply


      Prior Speaking Experiences

      -Guilford Child Development: Autism in the Early Childhood Setting
      -Cheshire Speech and Voice: Effective Tools for increasing Sensory Integration for Speech/Language Intervention; Autism
      -Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute: Autism
      -CHIPS Greensboro: Autism for Professionals
      -NCSHLA: Teletherapy (Including the Parent Perspective)
      -Telepractice Today: Podcast (Parent and SLP Perspectives)
      -UNC Chapel Hill: Guest Lecture
      -Abled Not Labeled: Presenter (Intro to Neurodiversity)
      -Rockingham County Schools (Gestalt Language Processing)
      Meet Elizabeth