Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Early Childhood Education

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Alissa Lange

Committee Members

Carol Trivette, Ryan Nivens, Rosemary Geiken


The current study investigated whether there is a relationship between the amount of time children spend in the block center and their spatial skills, as well as the gender differences in the amount of time children spend in the block center and in their spatial skills. In addition, other factors influencing spatial skills were examined (e.g. child’s age, parents’ level of education). Using a correlational quantitative design, 75 preschoolers in eight Head Start classrooms were observed three times during their free play time. An existing instrument was used (TOSA: Verdine & Golinkoff, 2018) to measure children’s spatial skills. In addition, children’s parents reported the amount of time children played with spatial toys at home. Boys spent more time playing in block center than girls, however, there was no significant difference between boys’ and girls’ spatial skills. Children who spent more time in the block center scored higher in the spatial test, and a trend emerged suggesting time in the block area might benefit girls more than boys. Child’s age and parents’ level of education were predictors of spatial skills, but they did not moderate the relationship between spatial skills and the amount of time children spent in block center. The findings highlight the potential of playing with blocks in developing and improving spatial skills. Teachers and administrators should provide more opportunities for children to improve their spatial skills, especially children who are from low SES families. This study had some limitations such as the small sample size and the limited observation time. There is a need for more investigations and experiment to find strategies to engage children in spatial play and support the improvement of their spatial skills.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.