Visual Discrimination Activities

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Visual discrimination is the skill of being able to see and comprehend small details - this helps us to see subtle differences between objects or pictures and to see if something matches up.

This important visual perceptual skill can also be described as “paying attention to detail" and is vital for reading, writing and other school skills.

This page looks at a variety of activities and ideas for kids who are in early elementary and older.

Visual Discrimination Difficulties

Younger children with poor skills may:

  • struggle to match clothing, socks, or cutlery, especially when the differences are subtle
  • struggle to see the difference between similar objects (eg coins, especially foreign coins which happen to be similar to local currency)
visual discrimination helps you see the difference between coinsSpot the difference?

At school, a child with visual discrimination difficulties may:

  • struggle to see the difference between similar looking letters and words (eg b / d,    b / p,    5 / S,    won’t / want,    car / cat) - this can affect reading and letter formation skills
  • have difficulty completing spot-the-difference type activities
  • be unable to work with maps, graphs and other learning tasks that require attention to small details

If you are at all concerned about your child's skills, please seek a professional opinion. 

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For your convenience, I have linked to a few items on Amazon (marked #Ad) that are similar to what I use. I will receive a small commission if you purchase something through my links but you are under no obligation to purchase anything!

Visual Discrimination Games - Older Kids

There are lots of preschool and kindergarten ideas out there, and I cover those elsewhere on my site, but it is always a challenge to find visual discrimination activities for older kids.

Here are some resources and games I have used with older kids at home and at school:

Speed Match is a great printable download from Your Therapy Source, that I often use. It involves cutting out a set of shapes and then matching them to the shapes on a top sheet, with a time limit.

For older kids, I print the pages in black and white to increase the visual challenge, and we use the time limit when we play, which I don't do with younger kids.

speed matching game

You can also play Spot It!#Ad (or Dobble #Ad, if you are in Europe) - this game works on figure-ground perception and visual discrimination skills, but most kids don't know this and just play it for fun!

It is a fast paced game, so if your child struggles to play it in a group, then have your child just play one-on-one with you so you can give a little extra time until his/her skills improve.

spot it game for visual perception

Classic Spot It!#Ad
AKA Dobble#Ad in Europe

These are some additional games for visual discrimination that you may be able to find at your local toy department:

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Try A Coin Collection

Coin collecting is a  hobby that our family took up during the pandemic, and it has been a great way to help kids learn to pay attention to small details.

You don't need lots of fancy resources to get started - use the coins you have around the house, and ask your family and friends for any interesting or foreign coins they may have. A magnifying glass and a box or scrapbook for storing the coins is a good start, and if your child enjoys it, you can look into getting a simple coin collection album#Ad.

Sorting local coins by date means your child needs to take a close look at the numbers.

Sorting foreign coins means your child needs to match the coins to the ones shown on a numismatics website.

Try Numista - find the country of issue and then filter your search with the date on the coin.

coin collecting for visual discrimination skillsSorting coins

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Doing Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are a fantastic way of helping your child develop a host of visual perceptual skills - including visual discrimination skills.

It is worth investing in good quality puzzles, perhaps swapping or sharing puzzles with family and friends, in order to give your child lots of opportunity to build these skills.

If your child struggles to build puzzles, then check out these pages of my site for some inspiration and encouragement:

Tips and strategies to help older kids do puzzles - super helpful for developing visual perception skills!

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Younger Kids

If the activities suggested on this page are too challenging for your child, or if your child is younger, then check out my suggestions on these pages of my site:

Printable Visual Discrimination Worksheets

In addition to Graphing Games and Speed Match, which I have mentioned above, there are a few other lovely printable resources that work on visual discrimination skills - check them out!

visual discrimination printable resources

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Related Pages

Here are some more visual perceptual pages that you may find helpful!

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