Children adeptly use environmental boundaries to navigate. But how do they represent surfaces as boundaries, and how does this change over development? To investigate the effects of boundaries as visual and physical barriers, we tested spatial reorientation in 160 children (2-7 year-olds) in a transparent rectangular arena (Condition 1). In contrast with their consistent success using opaque surfaces (Condition 2), children only succeeded at using transparent surfaces at 5-7 years of age. These results suggest a critical role of visually opaque surfaces in early spatial coding and a developmental change around the age of five in representing locations with respect to transparent surfaces. In application, these findings may inform our usage of windows and glass surfaces in designing and building environments occupied by young children.