Navigation as a source of geometric knowledge: young children's use of length, angle, distance, and direction in a reorientation task.
Preschool children can navigate by simple geometric maps of the environment, but the nature of the geometric relations they use in map reading remains unclear. Here, children were tested specifically on their sensitivity to angle. Forty-eight children (age 47:15-53:30 months) were presented with fragments of geometric maps, in which angle sections appeared without any relevant length or distance information. Children were able to read these map fragments and compare 2D to 3D angles. However, this ability appeared both variable and fragile among the youngest children of the sample. These findings suggest that 4-year-old children begin to form an abstract concept of angle that applies both to 2D and 3D displays and that serves to interpret novel spatial symbols.