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Supporting Visual-Perceptual Skills

Visual perceptual skills encompass a broad set of abilities. Subcategories of visual perception include visual discrimination, visual figure-ground, visual memory, visual sequencing, visual closure, visual-spatial awareness, and visual-motor coordination. Despite the use of the word visual, visual perceptual skills having nothing to do with visual acuity!

1. Visual Discrimination is the ability to perceive the features of an item and distinguish it from another item including letters, numbers or shapes. Puzzles, matching games and sorting activities are all excellent ways to practice visual discrimination. 

These action ABC puzzles are a fun way to work on visual discrimination while also being active!

This simple dice matching activity also addresses a  student’s ability to subitize, an important foundational math skill that requires visual perceptual abilities. 

Sorting words with commonly confused letters like b and p is another way to work on visual discrimination. Use these ab/ap Rhyme Cards with the ab/ap Rhyming Mat


2. Visual Figure-Ground is the ability to find something in a busy background. Search and find activities are a fun way to address figure-ground skills. 


3. Visual Memory is the ability to remember something that you saw once it is taken away. This is an important skill for early reading and math development. Memory card games are an effective way to practice this skill.   

4. Visual Sequencing is the ability to perceive the order of symbols, letters or words on a page. Visual sequencing helps in seeing patterns that are necessary foundational skills for reading, spelling, and mathematics. 

Use pattern strips to help students learn to identify and continue a pattern of objects or symbols.

Visually ordering the steps of an activity or of an event also helps students practice this skill.


5. Visual Closure is recognizing a picture when you can only see part of it or recognizing a letter, number or word when you only see a part of it. 

Students practice visual closure skills by identifying and completing these 3 part puzzles.

6. Visual-Spatial Awareness is the ability to understand where your own body is in space as well as where objects are in relation to each other. Physically this contributes to one’s ability to navigate your environment and maintain appropriate personal space.  This skill is important in writing for spacing letters and words correctly. It is also necessary for cutting accurately and understanding of maps and graphs

Mazes help students practice their visual-spatial awareness. 

Driving vehicles on street themed letters is a fun way for students to develop visual-spatial awareness of letter formation!

A writing checklist can remind students to use proper spacing and make tall and low letters correctly. Use this writing checklist taped to a tongue depressor to help students put the proper spacing in between words.

Have students practice these body positions to increase their ability to move their body in space


7. Visual-Motor Coordination is the ability to coordinate the information that your eyes see with movement from other parts of your body. Visual-motor skills are necessary for handwriting, playing catch and riding a bike. Cutting, tracing, and also large motor activities are excellent visual-motor coordination practice. 


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