Textbooks play an important part in teaching and learning mathematics. However, textbook research on spatial ability has so far received little attention. In this study, we investigated whether school mathematics textbooks provide enough opportunities for primary students to learn three-dimensional shapes and help them acquire spatial ability. Three mathematics textbook series used in Hong Kong were analysed through content analysis. Findings showed each series of textbooks contained five domains for introducing solid figures, which included real-life examples, understanding concepts, measurement, finding laws, and developing spatial ability. The development of spatial abilities was mainly shown in the production of three-dimensional graphics. What students experienced in the learning of 3-D shapes was relatively narrow. Geometric graphics were mainly limited to the conventional shapes at the early stage. Activities to explore three-dimensional graphics were insufficient. It was suggested that combining the surrounding world of children with geometry in the classroom was not just a criterion for textbooks but also the focus of classroom teaching. The flexibility of teachers’ adoptions of textbooks is also worthy of further investigation.
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