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Child’s Play – Activities To Enhance Sight

Learning to look for details can be a fun and enjoyable lesson for children and adults alike.  Here are some great ideas for working with young children in developing visual discrimination and perception!

  1. I Spy – This is a classic game that involves no extra tools, only a friend or two and a pair of eyes!  Have the person who is it locate an object, and without telling what or where it is, give clues, such as “I spy something GREEN” or “I spy something COLD”.  Participants then try to guess the object based on clues given.  This is a perfect in-house game, backyard game, carpool game, road trip game, waiting-in-line-at-the-grocery-store game…you get the point!
  2. Introduce your child to Optical Illusions. Optical illusions are pictures or objects that try to “trick” the brain into thinking it is seeing something that is actually different than it seems.  Here are a couple of great sites for optical illusions: http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/ and http://colorcube.com/illusions/illusion.htm
  3. Pin the Tail – this is a classic birthday party game, but give children the opportunity to study the picture from a distance before attempting to attach a tail (or clown nose or a race car wheel – whatever the “pinning” object may be!) while blindfolded.  This allows the child to judge distance and approximate location of an object in a fun way.
  4. Play the “What’s Missing” game – my pre-kindergarten class LOVES this game.  Take 3 – 6 objects (depending on the child’s age and skill level) and lay them out on a table.  Talk about the objects – color, size, type – and then have the child hide their eyes (in my class, the kids go stand by the cubbies until the rest of the class calls them back.  While the child is not looking, hide one object.  When the child returns, he or she must guess which object is missing.
  5. Complete the picture – this is a great activity for older children.  Cut a small picture from a magazine – part of a table, a forest scene, the view of a street – and glue it to the middle of a blank sheet of paper.  Have the child expand the drawing to show what is missing from this small “snapshot” picture.  The possibilities are endless of what lies beyond the frame of the picture!

The Perks Of Puzzles

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does that make a puzzle worth?  Puzzles are wonderful learning tools without even appearing as such.  Children love to piece together puzzles at almost any age, from toddlers through the teen years and into adulthood.  The benefits of “puzzling” are innumerable, but here are a few areas that puzzles really shine.

Puzzles are excellent for visual discrimination.  Children must learn to match shape to shape (or cut out area to cut out area), looking for specific details on each piece.  In younger children, peg puzzles help develop matching skills and shape identification, whether those shapes be “standard” shapes or unconventional ones.  

Putting together puzzles also increases a child’s fine motor skills, which is necessary for pre-writing skill development.  Fitting puzzle pieces together “just so” works on finger dexterity and strength.  This, in turn, aids in writing skill development with control over pencil/crayon movement. 

Puzzles are excellent tools for developing problem solving strategies.  Children must figure out how to put the pieces together, where to start, and what method is easiest for them.  While many may choose to work the “edge” of the puzzle first, there are those children who will find starting with a specific design or picture within the overall puzzle is easier.  Both ways are correct ways to fit together a puzzle; both ways develop different strategies in problem solving.

Have a variety of puzzles on hand for children.  Puzzles are a great way to have fun and learn at the same time!

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