Salt and pepper. Peanut butter and jelly. Learning… and fun? Absolutely. Learning and fun go together in my book, and I mean that literally. Learning to draw, read, write, do math— all require the ability to discern shapes, differentiate detail, compare relative positions, and more, yet parents may not focus on visual skills as such. Yet these abilities are essential to all academic subjects, especially foundational ones like reading, writing and math.
Barring problems in the visual system, developing visual skills in kids is an everyday happening, one kids can exercise playing visual games. A quick search on the internet turns up many free and fun games to tune up your child’s “visual I.Q,” Some of these would make great take-alongs for car trips or anytime you want to entertain a child and help train his or her visual brain.
For example, here’s a fun page to share with grade-school-age kids (and adults!) that challenges them to find the hidden faces and animals.
Have you ever leaned back in a dental chair to find yourself starting at an excessively busy poster on the ceiling crawling with cartoon people, one named Waldo? Waldo may be going gray by now, but this timeless game still offers more ways to keep little eyes busy than fun in a barrel of monkeys. Along the same lines, older kids are often fascinated by the drawings of M. C. Escher.
Here’s a collection of hidden pictures and puzzles from Highlights Magazine, many playable online.
As you would expect, Pinterest is a favorite for optical illusions. Here are some classics, suitable if not for smaller children, for anyone young at heart.
Science Bob presents a page of famous and fun optical illusions, complete with a short discussion of the “visual vibration” cause by black and white patterns that confuse the brain and fool us into seeing something that’s not there.
Here’s a collection of apps, many free or low cost, that purport to keep kids entertained while exercising their visual perception, memory, tracking, sequencing, planning, and motor skills (although a finger workout calls for at least an hour of outside time, don’t you think?). I haven’t reviewed these apps but would appreciate input from anybody who has or recommendations of others.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for visual games. My main point is for parents to realize that the visual brain must learn to see. Visual games are another way to exercise the visual brain—while having fun. Another way is using visualization, as my SEE IT. SAY IT. DO IT! book series covers, with an emphasis on the fun factor.