Spatial awareness is an important skill for preschoolers. They need to understand the locations of objects in relation to their body. As parents, we can help them by adding spatial terms — such as locations, distance comparisons, and directions — whenever we want to refer to an object in 3D space.
A few days ago, PBS Kids released a new app that can help kids ages 3+ by improving spatial reasoning skills. Called Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem, it includes six spatial reasoning games designed to nurture creative thinking and problem solving for young learners.
The Cat is Stuck in a Tree
This game is based on a popular PBS Kids series called Peg + Cat. To be exact, it’s based on episode 107 when Cat is stuck in a tree, and Peg needs to figure out how to get him down using three giant gifts. Since Peg + Cat is a math-based adventure series, each episode has its own learning goals. In the Tree Problem case, it tries to teach kids about spatial sense (including direction and position) and how to use it to solve the problem.
There are six different locations where you can go and help Peg rescue Cat. The first one is Metropolis, where you need to place construction blocks to connect gaps of different length. Once there’s a connected path available, Cat can start moving down the tree.
Once you solve a tree problem, you will unlock the next problem in that location. There are five problems with increasing difficulties for each location. Different locations have different tools that you can use to build the rescue path.
For example, in the Dino Valley, you can raise the water level of desert fountains and use them as Cat’s rescue path. In other locations, you can grow magical flowers or stack gift boxes to create the rescue path.
Parents Need to Know
Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem works great in Airplane mode. You don’t need an Internet connection to play the game. The app has no advertising, no in-app purchases, and no links to social network. It is now available for iPad only and covers early math skills — such as numbers, counting, ordering, addition, measurement, and estimation — that are appropriate for ages three and up.
What makes improving spatial reasoning skills a fun activity is how the problems are being presented in an engaging narrative. Kids can start developing and improving spatial reasoning skills with real-world concepts such as bigger/smaller, across/down, higher/lower, and longer/shorter.
I’d encourage you to play along with your kids to give you a chance to engage in more spatial talk with them. Spatial reasoning can be developed from early preschool years, and will continue to improve if they have enough practice. Because it’s a skill, kids can develop and improve on it. As kids get more advanced, they can even try other mind-challenging games or even abstract reasoning problems that are typically found in IQ tests.
Things I Like
Each time you move into a new location, Peg will give you a bit of narration of what’s going on. I find this quite entertaining. At the same time, it provides you with hints for solving the current problem. If, for some reasons you’re having difficulties solving the problem, you can always tap the help icon on the upper right corner of the screen.
My favorite locations in Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem are the South Pole and the Broadway. In the first location, you get to swipe your fingers left and right to roll a big snowball. Then, you can drag the snowball and create a stack of them as Cat’s rescue path. In Broadway, you get to play with pulley systems where changing the height of one hand will alter the height of another.
I also appreciate how some challenges can be solved in multiple ways. This challenges kids to think creatively and logically.
Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem is a great collection of spatial reasoning games for kids ages 3 and up. It uses the narrative of Cat stuck in a tree to give kids the motivation to solve the problems. Little do they know that they are actually learning about spatial concepts such as across/down and higher/lower. I’d recommend you to spend the time with your kids to play this game together and see how you can help them develop and improve their spatial awareness and reasoning skills.
Get it on the App Store: iPad
App was provided for our honest review.