Research suggests that children’s preschool mathematics knowledge is a predictor of later academic success and that strong spatial-thinking skills are key to children’s readiness for kindergarten and later STEM learning. Yet many preschoolers from underrepresented and underserved groups lack opportunities for high-quality early math learning, and children’s spatial thinking is often ignored in early childhood education environments.

EDC, WGBH Educational Foundation, and Digital Promise Global are developing and studying a preschool mathematics curriculum supplement that will help caregivers and early childhood educators foster children’s spatial orientation (SO) and math learning. The supplement features hands-on developmentally appropriate spatial learning activities, books, and digital touch‑screen tablets with augmented reality technologies.

Key Activities

Using a design-based research and development approach, the project is carrying out the following activities:

  • Produce a set of SO activities and a digital teachers’ guide for use in preschool classrooms
  • Develop, explore, and test the use of an Augmented Reality (AR) app with embedded spatial orientation tasks
  • Develop a family-focused guide with SO learning activities to engage children at home
  • Design a validated, hands-on assessment to understand and track preschoolers’ SO learning
  • Conduct user studies and a pilot study with 700–800 preschool children and their families and teachers to test the activities and inform revisions to those activities


The project and its findings will do the following:

  • Illuminate the potential for this approach to support preschoolers’ SO learning
  • Advance knowledge of how to design digital activities that foster SO learning and that can be modified and tested with other domains and age groups
  • Provide a model for STEM interventions that use augmented reality to facilitate children’s SO and STEM identity and support teachers’ and parents’ engagement with preschoolers’ learning

Learn More

National Science Foundation

WGBH, Digital Promise, SRI International