Mazes and Maps: Can Young Children Find Their Way?



Games provide important informal learning activities for young children, and spatial game play (e.g., puzzles and blocks) has been found to relate to the development of spatial skills. This study investigates 4- and 5-year-old children's use of scaled and unscaled maps when solving mazes, asking whether an important aspect of spatial learning—the ability to use scaled representations—is related to children's play with scaled maps. Results show that almost all children used the maps to solve the mazes at least occasionally, and use them consistently across maze difficulty and different types of maps. Map use and more accurate spatial scaling were associated with better maze performance. We suggest that maze activities including scaled maps might provide an opportunity for developing children's spatial scaling through play, and discuss future research directions.