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Constructing shapes & building images : the spatial understandings of kindergarten-aged children McLaren, Samantha Eve

Abstract

This study focuses on the spatial understandings of kindergarten-aged children. Its goal is to discover how students of this age demonstrate and verbalize their understanding of the physical attributes of 2- and 3-dimensional shapes through comparison and construction. Three children were chosen from the original group of six students and their videotaped interviews are described and assessed in detail. In order to design appropriate tasks and identify significant features of the children's dialogue and activities, three theories are emphasized. The use of Jean Piaget's topological primacy thesis shows that children of this age are able to distinguish shapes according to all three levels of description identified by him in his early work. An examination of data in accordance with the Pirie- Kieren theory for growth of understanding reveals that with varying degrees of prompting, kindergarten-aged children use unique images to note and compare specific properties among different shapes. Thirdly, Stuart ReifePs developmental progression for construction is utilized to show that within a small group of children, a range of complexity in building structures can be identified. Suggestions are given for the application and extension of this study's interview tasks and subsequent analysis for further research and use in the classroom.

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