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Visual perceptual skills

Definition Visual perception is connecting what the child sees to what they do (e.g. doing puzzles, recognizing shapes etc.). These visual perceptual skills helps the children read and write as well as recognize and learn numbers and letters and development of handwriting skills. 

Types of visual perception

Visual Motor Integration 

Definition – involves good communication between the eyes and hands so that you are able to copy, draw or write what you see; very similar to hand-eye coordination 

Signs to look for – child may struggle to draw shapes and numbers when writing 

Activities – scribble lines, draw loops/ circles, draw diagonal lines, star with + and x, lazy 8 racing track 

Visual Memory 

Definition – Recall/ remember details of what you have seen 

Signs to look for – child can’t recognize numbers and letters, or remember sight words 

Activities – matching cards – concentration / memory game 

Visual Discrimination

Definition – correctly perceive letters and numbers where there is only a small difference between them 

Signs to look for – child is not able to match items such as clothing, socks or cutlery, can’t see the difference between similar objects (e.g., coins) 

Activities – spot the difference, spot the odd object out, sorting colour and shape of the object

Figure Ground Perception

Definition – be able to find the correct information in a busy environment 

Signs to look for – child loses place when copying work from board, struggles to find personal items in a cluttered place, struggles to find information on a busy blackboard 

Activity 1 – sort cereal / pasta (different colour, shape) 

Activity 2 – play I Spy with my Little Eyes, build a figure puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles

Form Constancy 

Definition – ability to recognize and label objects even when they are viewed from a different angle or in a different environment 

Signs to look for – child may not recognize shapes, numbers and letters when colour, size, font changes 

Activity 1 – ask the child to point to different objects in the classroom that are a specific shape e.g. table is a rectangle/square; this can be done with objects on a tray and items in a magazine/book as well 

Activity 2 – when out on a walk, ask the child to spot different letters and numbers 

Visual Closure

Definition – correctly perceive an object / word even when it’s partially hidden 

Signs to look for – child is confused by similar letters, words, and objects; child has challenges with worksheets, puzzles, and mazes.  

Activity 1 – use toys that child is familiar with, partially hide 1-2 toys under a cloth without the child seeing, ask child to name/identify them 

Activity 2 – practice incomplete geometric figures, play with jigsaw puzzles.

Link has free visual closure activities: 

Note that this is not a comprehensive list of what visual perception is but is a starting point. 

Please see a registered occupational therapist for more information.


Cincinnati Children’s. (n.d.). Visual motor and visual perception. Retrieved from,

OT Mom Learning Activities. (n.d.). Visual perceptual skills. Retrieved from,  

The OT Toolbox. (n.d.). Visual motor skills. Retrieved from,  

Written by: Stephanie Wong OT Reg. (Ont.)

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