It is often tricky to find activities for older kids that can build their skills without making them feel juvenile.
As my own kids have grown older, there are a bunch of visual-based games and activities that we have had lots of fun doing as a family, and I have used these same resources to help build the visual perceptual skills of older kids that I have worked with.
The best part is that they can easily be given as gifts, or added to the family game cupboard, without anyone feeling like they are being given a therapy activity!
So here are my favorites - with a brief explanation of how I use it to encourage the development of visual perceptual skills, and any tips that might help.
For your convenience, I have looked out these (or similar) activities and games on Amazon. These are my affiliate links
to these products - I will earn a small commission if you purchase
something through my links, which helps to support my free website.
However, you are under no obligation to purchase anything!
This fast paced game is a huge hit with my own kids and their friends, even into the teen years. The best part is that it develops visual discrimination, visual scanning and figure-ground perception skills, while still being loads of fun!
I personally also think it brings visual memory skills into play, because you learn to take a quick mental "photo" of one card to match up the items with the other card.
Jigsaw puzzles can be fun, yet challenging activities for older kids and teens. The question is, just how do puzzles help develop your child's skills? It really does depend on the picture on which the puzzle is based.
1) Some puzzles are "busy" - filled with lots and lots of small objects - think of a library filled with books, a bustling street... these puzzles mostly use figure-ground perception and visual scanning skills.
Basically, you pick up a piece, see what colors and objects are
on your piece, and then you visually scan the completed picture until
you spot the color and/object that matches your piece. Then you place
your piece in approximately the right spot.
Sometimes "busy puzzles" feel like they take a while to get going. It takes a little while to scan the picture and match up your piece to the picture. And then to find another piece that joins it! So it often takes a few sessions to feel like you are moving forward. But it gets quicker and more satisfying as you progress.
2) Some puzzles are more "peaceful" (for lack of a better word) - the picture contains a few specific objects with a fairly quiet background.
When you do these puzzles, you are able to sort out the pieces into the various objects - for example, to complete the puzzle pictured alongside, you would be able to sort out the pieces into the different color cars, the sky pieces, the diner pieces. Then you build one car / object at a time, until you have completed the whole puzzle.
This kind of puzzle has more of a visual discrimination and spatial orientation demand, as well as figure-ground perception. Although you may know from the color that you are working on, say, the pink car, you still need to turn the pieces around and make them fit to build the car.
Tweens and teens may enjoy a 300 piece puzzle with a sibling or parent. Personally, our family enjoys 500-1000 piece puzzles - they take a few days for us to do as a family during a relaxed holiday week.
I have linked to some more awesome-looking puzzles that are available on Amazon, below.
If you are going on a road trip anytime soon, or if your child appreciates quiet down-time, these books make ideal visual activities for older kids. There are a number of seek-and-find type books that have been created for older kids, with "real" themes such as art, history and geography.
I love the fact that older kids can learn about art history, or famous landmarks, or classical literature, while having fun with these books.
And working on visual scanning and figure-ground perception into the bargain!
Here are some lovely books on Amazon which are geared to older kids than most seek&find books...
Kaleidograph is a fantastic activity that is still a go-to for my own older kids and teens when we are heading for a long car trip or a quiet weekend away.
Kaleidograph can be used for creative free play, where your child just plays around with the different layers and colors, or it can be used for focused copying of one of the designs given with the pack.
The focused design copying aspect is what will help develop visual perception, spatial perception and planning skills.
Your child will be using figure-ground perception and visual discrimination skills when they study the picture to discern the different elements of the design.
The different sets make great visual perceptual activities for older kids and I highly recommend them. Amazon no longer stock these, but you can order all the different Kaleidograph sets from Red Hen Toys.
I hope this page has helped to inspire you with some visual perception activities for older kids!
My links to the products on Amazon were for your convenience - you may be able to find the products in your local department store, in a thrift shop or maybe even borrow them from a friend! They make great gift ideas for birthdays and holidays!
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