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Tetris, Geometry, and Visual Spatial Skills

IIn geometry, kids learn three ways to change the position of figures - they can move the figure, rotate it, or flip it across a line. These are called, translation, rotation, and reflection.

So, the game Tetris is a good way for kids to practice rotations (teach your child this math vocabulary as they play!). They have to rotate each figure as it falls to make it fit into the pattern of figures at the bottom of the game screen. That, it seems to me, is also a good way to prepare to pack a large amount of luggage in a small hatchback, an important life skill.

A 1994 study provided some sketchy evidence that playing Tetris may help build more general visual-spatial skills. But then another study concluded that playing Tetris may mostly help you get better at mentally manipulating Tetris-like shapes, and not much more. And a third study noted that kids who are already good visualizers benefit less from video game practice than kids who are not good visualizers.

A reasonable conclusion to draw from all this is: go ahead and play Tetris - it's fun and it might build some brain power.

But don't put all your eggs in the Tetris basket. Look for many ways for your kids to build their visual-spatial skills.

Here are some other math activities in the visual-spatial arena

Paper doll math

Mobius strip math

Paper airplane designs for kids

Newspaper forts

Game Review: Rush Hour




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