Form Constancy refers to the ability to recognize and label objects even when they are viewed from a different angle or in a different environment.
A simple example would be that you can recognize that a dog is a dog whether you see it in a photo, in your garden or in the park, and whether it is sitting, lying down or running.
Labeling the object correctly means that this skill has both a visual perceptual demand and a verbal demand.
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Kids who struggle with form constancy may not recognize shapes, numbers and letters when the color, size or font changes, or when they are presented in a different context (for example when they see them in the playground instead of in the classroom).
For example, when learning to identify rectangles on a worksheet, they may fail to see that the picture on the wall is in the shape of a rectangle. Or when learning the letter "a" in class, they don't recognise the same letter in a book at home.
There is a difference between this skill and "form perception".
Form Perception is more of a "gestalt" term used by psychologists and artists and refers to our ability to perceive the characteristics of objects (such as rounded and straight edges).
These visual perception activities are intended to encourage your child's normal visual perceptual development.
If you suspect your child has visual perceptual delays, please seek a professional opinion.
These activities are suitable for preschoolers. First make sure your child understands what makes a shape special (eg a circle is round; a triangle has 3 corners). For very young children, introduce just one shape at a time - conventional wisdom says one shape a week!
Put a few shapes in a bag and ask your child to feel a shape and tell you what it is. Increase the challenge by asking your child to find a specific shape.
Pattern Blocks#Ad are good shapes to use for this activity. See this page for more tactile perception activities.
Ask your child to point out the different objects in your home that are a specific shape (eg a clock may be a circle, a table may be a rectangle).
This child has identified 2 rectangles on the wall.
If your child finds it too hard to recognize forms in a busy room, place some household items on a tray and ask your child to pick out specific shapes.
This tray has some triangles and ovals.
Use picture books and ask your child to find the different shapes in the picture.
You can ask questions like: “show me the circles in this picture” or “what shape is the tabletop?”
Use a shopping catalog or magazine, and ask your child to point out objects that are a specific shape.
You could then cut them for your child to paste into a shape notebook. (Older kids can practice their cutting skills and do this for a younger sibling!)
Take a walk through town or your neighborhood and let your child spot the current number or letter that you are studying.
Let your child raid your pantry, and find the current number or letter on the packaging.
Let your child look for specific numbers or letters in magazines, catalogs, on your calendar and so on.
Let your child cut them out and paste them into a notebook, or you could cut them out for your younger child if this is too demanding.
Although I prefer hands-on activities to boost visual perception skills, especially in the preschool years, there is a place for well chosen worksheets to help promote the skills you are working on with your child.
Most worksheets are labelled "visual perception skills" without being specific - so here is what to look for in order to boost form constancy skills.
Look for worksheets that require the child to find objects that are the same even though viewed from a different perspective.
This worksheet requires the child to find the same shoe, viewed from different perspectives.
Look for worksheets require the child to identify shapes even when they are different sizes, colors or orientations.
Worksheets that ask the child to find the shape in everyday objects are also good (eg clocks and wheels are circles; picture frames
and books are rectangles).
At the beginning, avoid worksheets that have overlapping shapes, as these require additional visual perception skills such as figure-ground perception, and can be confusing for kids who struggle.
There are some form constancy worksheets in the Visual Perceptual Games and Activities workbook, along with many other visual perception worksheets!
These other pages on my site give lots of visual perception activity ideas and resources to build your child's skills. Have fun!
There is sometimes a place for desktop worksheet activities in preschool, although I prefer to use worksheets as little as possible at this age.
You can check out my favorite printable visual perceptual worksheets for preschoolers on this page of my site!
I trust you found these suggestions helpful!
Please read my page on Visual Perceptual Skills if you need more information about why all of these skills are so important for kids.
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