Does your child have problems with her visual perception? A child who has weak visual perceptual skills will have trouble matching letters, numbers, or words. They might also have trouble telling what is different or the same about several objects or symbols.
For example, if you show them a picture of a horse and a cow, they would find it hard to explain that both have four feet and a tail. Older children might understand a word in one context, but not in another. So they might understand what extreme sports means, but not "taking things to the extreme."
Weak visual perception skills are not something your child is stuck with forever. You can use these simple games that are both inexpensive, easy to make, and fun to play.
- nuts, bolts, buttons, shells, beans, seeds, small colored "jewels," miniature animals, foam geometric shapes, different coin denominations
- small containers to hold each type of object. These could be small Tupperware containers, mini baking tins, tiny plastic serving bowls- visit your local paper/party goods store for ideas.
- a small tray to hold the containers. This is necessary in order to define the work order and also to contain spills; it's not fun trying to pick up dozens of rolling pinto beans!
How to Play:
- Choose the items you would like to sort. In the beginning start out with only two different types of objects. Later, as your child becomes more proficient, you can increase the choices to 3 or 4.
- Select the number of containers you will need. This will depend on how many different types of objects you have. So if your child is sorting geometric shapes, and there are 4 different types of shapes (make sure that each shape is always the same color, otherwise your child will not know whether to sort by shape or color), then you will need 4 different containers. You will also need a larger container to hold the unsorted items.
- Place all the containers on the tray, with the objects that need to be sorted in a container in the middle.
- Demonstrate to your child how to sort, making sure to demonstrate what to do if something spills, or if they finish (how and where will they put everything away?). They should pick up the objects with their thumb and index finger, but if they are older you can vary the game and make it more complicated by choosing tongs, tweezers, or other fun items. Don't use a lot of explanation to do this; your actions will be enough.
- Let your child enjoy practicing sorting. Be prepared for siblings demanding to play as well- it is enticing even for older children as well.
TIP: You can make this game especially pleasing by choosing matching colors for all the containers, and the tray, or by using crystal look-alike plastic. These are fairly inexpensive but add a lot to the game.
- Pictures of items in several categories, such as: household furniture, food, clothes, animals, vehicles, appliances. You can use Yahoo Images to search for appropriate pictures. Just go to the regular search page, and instead of the page you automatically do your searches (this is called "web") you will click the word "images" next to it.
- You should laminate each picture, or glue each picture to hard paper for durability. Tip: when laminating, be sure to cut out each picture before you laminate, rather than just laminating your whole sheet of pix and then cutting them out afterwards. Doing so might cause the two pieces of plastic holding your picture to open up a the ends.
How to Play:
- Choose two categories.
- Take one picture from each category and put them next to each other horizontally.
- Mix up the remaining pictures. Take a picture from the pile, and show your child how to decide where it goes. For example, if you have furniture and food (two obviously different categories) you would take a picture and ask your child, "Is this something we could eat? Oh, so it has to go here, with the furniture.
- As your child gets the hang of things (and it shouldn't take long), you can use more difficult categories, like: fruits vs. vegetables, wild animals vs. pets, hot vs. cold.
Another version of this game is called Secret Squares. You can find it in most toy stores, or online. You can also make it at home. Basically you play it like 20 questions: you set out all the cards (face-up for an easy game, face-down for much harder), and one of you secretly chooses a card, and places a red plastic disc under it, to mark it.
The other players then have to guess where the red disc is by asking categorical type questions, like "is it something we eat?" If it is, then they can automatically take out all the things that are not edible. They then proceed to ask more specific questions, like,"is it a dessert?" until the tile is found.
This is a game for advanced players only, but you can make it easier by helping your child with the questions, and then letting her eliminate the tiles that don't belong.