7 Fun Activities For Improving Visual Discrimination Skills In Kids

As the term suggests, visual discrimination is the ability to differentiate between visual stimuli such as objects, shapes, things, or symbols. It is also the ability to classify and categorize objects based on color, size, position, distance, texture, etc. This ability is often taken for granted until and unless one notices or experiences some deficit in the perception of objects. 

Visual discrimination is an essential ability that is useful in almost every activity an individual carries out daily. For example, being able to discriminate between a ‘v’ and a ‘u’ or differentiating between a ‘square’ and a ‘rectangle.’ It is a skill that can be learned and enhanced through practice; hence, many affected individuals can implement various strategies to develop and improve themselves.

Signs of deficient visual discrimination 

Although visual discrimination often comes naturally to many, in some individuals, due to varying reasons, there can be the existence of specific deficits in this area of visual perception. This can be understood by parents, teachers, and guardians of children at a very young age if they look out for certain signs. These discrepancies in visual discrimination are also known as Visual Perceptual Deficits. 

  • Confusion between letters 
  • Not being able to recognize different colors
  • Failing to discriminate between shapes
  • Difficulty in judging the distance between objects
  • Not being able to color or write in space with borders
  • Need help to differentiate between logos and symbols.
  • Challenges in understanding the size of various things.
  • Cannot copy accurately
  • Failing to recognize a word/shape/object if only part of it is shown
  • Misaligns letters and irregular spacing between words and sentences while writing.
  • Frequent complaints regarding eye pain, often rubbing eyes
  • Losing their place while reading aloud
  • Trouble enjoying activities like puzzles or reading

These deficits are often observed in children with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and non-verbal or LD. It affects the cognition of recognizing subtle differences in shapes, handwritten letters, printed letters, numbers, etc. It can also lead to poor hand-eye coordination. At the same time, a few strategies can be implemented to enhance this skill amongst toddlers and little learners. 

Engaging visual discrimination activities 

Various fun-filled activities and games can be used to develop the skill of visual discrimination. It is a well-known fact that children learn better when what they do becomes a game or is encapsulated in their daily playing activities. Here are a few activities that can kindle the spark and provide a playful start to the journey that lies ahead.

1. Puzzles, Puzzles, Everywhere!

 Puzzles, Puzzles, Everywhere!

Puzzles are an interesting way to help children learn the skill of visual discrimination efficiently and effectively. The brighter side to this is the fact that they can help children enhance their focus and concentration levels. 

  • Start by giving them a puzzle of an animal, place, or a thing
  • Ask children to refer to the given image of an animal, place, or thing and complete the puzzle 
  • Team up two or three children and assign them one puzzle, this will enhance the skills of working in a team
  • To make this process even more rewarding for children employ strategies to reward children with small stars on their wrists as an acknowledgment of their efforts
  • Appreciate them by giving them small rewards for putting effort in the assigned activity irrespective of not being able to complete it, this will encourage the child in a positive manner

This activity aims to encourage children to sit at one place for longer periods of time thereby improving their concentration skills. As they function in teams, they also learn team-building skills thereby improving cooperation with others.

2. Oh! I Lost My Things

 Oh! I Lost My Things

This is a popular genre among all age groups. The playful activity can be conducted with the use of a few random things. It also helps children visually identify things.

  • Start by collecting various objects and randomly jumble them in a specific corner of a room
  • Give children the list of objects that are to be searched
  • Divide children into sets of teams to avoid confusion and chaos
  • Give different points and values to different objects in the list of objects to be found
  • Keep a reasonable time limit 
  • Now, let teams go around and keep finding materials in the playroom 
  • Appreciate children for participating in the activity and reward them by recognizing their efforts and hard work.

The aim is to enhance the child’s ability to focus on what is needed and ignore all that is not important, a very necessary quality that creates the foundation for organizational skills. Finding the object also tends to develop the necessary spatial and recognition skills which contribute together to developing visual perception, a skill that is used in real-life scenarios. 

3. What’s The Difference? 

What’s The Difference?

In this activity, two pictures should be given which will look very similar to the naked eye, but only when one looks carefully one is able to find the differences between the two pictures. There are many children’s newspapers that have a column dedicated to such pictures.

  • Give children a set of the same books which have such strips related to spotting the differences
  • Give them a reasonable time limit
  • Help them by hinting where a picture can be different from the other
  • Ask questions to children to explain why the two images are different
  • Appreciate and acknowledge their efforts when they find the actual difference between the two

Visual discrimination skills can be developed when children learn to focus on minute details in a picture. If they learn to spot similarities as well as differences, they are more likely to be visually intelligent.

4. The Colorful Theory!

 The Colorful Theory!

Encouraging children to color a set of printed images of various objects like animals, things or places helps develop their visual memory and in turn, enhances their visual discrimination skills. Learning to color within the borders and understanding the generic shades of different objects is also a byproduct of this activity.

  • Set a different color theme every day to bring energy and enthusiasm to the activity 
  • The themes can be related to domestic animals, flowers, elements of nature, birds stationary materials
  • Give them the desired pictures along with crayons
  • Give them a reference image so that they can understand what color usually a particular thing is
  • Help them in coloring within the borders and keep them engaged throughout the process
  • The activity ends with appreciation in the form of rewards or good words of encouragement 

Coloring within the borders implies how well children can follow a particular visual pattern for pictures. Themes also allow them to creatively think and visually relate to the images of actual pictures.

5. Where’s the Word?

Read and Recall!

Word puzzles can help in building vocabulary as well as help in the development of the visual tracking mechanism inherent to visual perception. It is a fun-filled activity to learn new words, and develop concentration, and patience.

  • Give them a basic word puzzle book
  • Keep different themes on different days such as family, farm, or jungle
  • Select the puzzle book which has basic words that the concerned age group of kids is aware of
  • Interact with them and guide them to find the different types of words related to the theme
  • Keep a set of 5 to 10 words, do not over exceed it as then it might become boring
  • After the activity is over, invite an open discussion about their views on it

Spotting accurate words from a jumbled puzzle helps them build concentration skills. They also learn to recognize letters and form relations using vocabulary. 

6. Read and Recall!

 Read and Recall!

Reading picture storybooks to children and then asking them about the story, in short, can help stimulate imagination, recall, and development of sequential visual memory. 

  • Read children a picture book
  • In the picture book, some steps to a particular daily activity like brushing should be discussed
  • Read it to children and ask them to repeat it with you
  • Then discuss the steps of the activity with children
  • Encourage them to do that daily activity in the same step-by-step process as given in the book
  • Ask questions and encourage them to recall the steps in a systematic manner

While reading a picture book helps them build active listening skills, it also stands as a helpful activity to boost visual memory. Visual discrimination is enhanced when children visually form images simply by listening.

7. Catch the Toy

 Catch the Toy

Often when children struggle with reading, they skip a word or a whole sentence. Visual tracking is the ability to shift the focus from one object to another and to maintain focus on a moving object. 

  • Give them a small soft teddy bear
  • Divide them into a set of teams of 2,3 or 5 members each
  • Ask them to gently pass or throw the teddy to their teammates in a circle
  • Ask them to count from 1 to 100 while doing this process
  • Here, they need to be quick listeners and also observe when it’s their chance to pass the soft toy

It helps children to control their eye movements and eye muscles and direct them toward the necessary task at hand. To read efficiently, visual tracking is indeed an important aspect of visual discrimination.


Visual discrimination is an essential skill, which, if not taken seriously, can hamper efficiency in carrying out even basic day-to-day activities. Given the concern regarding this skill, the journey to enhance it need not be boring and arduous at all. 

The journey can be meaningful, empowering, playful, and also full of various realizations if taken on with a certain sense of commitment and enduring patience. Above mentioned activities help develop this skill contributing to the happiness and development of an individual. Activities also offer a diversified learning platform thereby improving classroom attention.

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