Visual Perception Activities
For Older Kids

visual perception games, activities and tips for older kids and teens

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!

Spot It! (Also Called Dobble)

Spot It! and Visual Perception Skills

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.

Tips For Playing Spot It!

  • I strongly recommend that you play the game one-on-one with him/her the first few times.
    The reason for this is that the game, when played as designed, is very fast paced, and players have to be able to scan and identify very quickly.

  • One way of slowing it down is to only show the center card once your child has time to look at the card in his/her hand (rather than have the new center card be visible as soon as someone makes a match, as this is rather hectic, and your child may need more time to process)

  • Another tip is to make sure your child knows the names of all the objects on the cards, so have your child practice naming all the objects on the cards as quickly as he/she can, to get the hang of the verbal demand. If your child struggles with the verbal aspect, change the rules a bit to enable them to grab the card when they see a match and then to point out the matching object to you for confirmation. This method would necessitate turning over the center cards one at a time.
  • It takes a bit of practice to learn how to visually scan each card, and to develop the visual discrimination skills needed in order to make the match. This takes time, so you as the parent can "go slowly" to give your child time to see the cards without too much pressure. The "before you start" instructions in the game box can help with this.

  • In addition, you may need to prompt your child to try and take a "mental photo" of the card. The pictures are colored exactly the same way, so the heart is always red, the web is always purple, so prompt your child to take a quick color scan to try and speed up the matching process.

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Doing Jigsaw Puzzles

Using Puzzles To Build Visual Perception Skills

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.

Tips for using puzzle activities for older kids

  • I really recommend Ravensburger puzzles. They have lasted much longer than any other type of puzzle we have used. In most of their puzzles, the pieces are unique, which means they only fit correctly into one place. You want a puzzle that will stand up to being enjoyed every year, by different kids/teens each time. So my first tip is to get a good quality puzzle.

  • Secondly, do the puzzles as a family. Or make it YOUR puzzle, that you invite your kids to help you with! Not everyone has to work on the puzzle at the same time, but have it out somewhere that everyone can sit down and pop a piece in every now and then as they walk past, with no pressure. We build our puzzles on a large piece of hard board that can be moved between the dining room table and the coffee table.

  • Making it a team effort means that if your older child/teen finds puzzles challenging, it is more fun to sit down and work on it if everyone in the family is involved. From looking out the edge pieces, to building the edge, to sorting pieces into the different objects, to building each object... everyone can get involved at some point.

  • Almost every aspect of building a puzzle uses visual perceptual skills, so invite your child to join you as YOU do the puzzle, and let them see your enjoyment, and you should see their skills improve as they take part. You kind of have to lead this one by example to get your teens involved!

  • Last tip - make sure there are enough different colors in the puzzle that you can differentiate the objects! A 1000 piece puzzle of a blue-grey dolphin jumping out of a blue sea, against a blue sky is really hard - ask me how I know!

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.

Greenhouse Morning - 500 Pieces

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"Seek And Find" Type Books

Visual perception skills in "Seek & Find" type books

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!

Tips for using "Seek & Find" type books

  • Encourage your child to pay attention to detail, and show them how to systematically work through the page. You can show your child how to move a finger across the page and have the eyes follow the finger.
  • Work from left to right, gradually moving down the page.
  • You can also prompt your child to look in specific areas of the picture – "Have you looked in the house?", "How about the tree?

Here are some lovely books on Amazon which are geared to older kids than most seek&find books...

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Kaleidograph and visual perception skills

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.

Tips for using Kaleidograph

  • I have a full review of Kaleidograph on my site, and on that page I have laid out various tips and strategies to help kids who struggle with any aspect of the activity. So do pop on over and see photos of this game in action, as well as honest feedback about various aspects of the different sets.

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!

Thanks for visiting!

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