ACTIVITIES FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF VISUAL SKILLS

By Angelo Montagnino

     Children develop most of the visual skills necessary for play, future recreation and athletics before the age of four. Many visually impaired children do not develop these skills adequately. The special education classroom the physical education class, the recreation facility and the home can all be a source of opportunities to develop these skills through a variety of play activities that are fun. Playing cooperatively, rather than competing, is the main idea. Activities should be adjusted so every child experiences success.

TRACKING

Tracking skills are needed to succeed in activities that involve reacting to moving objects or people. Children should learn to follow a moving object or person with their eyes horizontally, vertically and as they progress even circularly. Possible activities to develop tracking are as follows.

COAL BALL - Stand child with his/her back to a wall and roll a large ball (beach ball or other large colorful ball) towards the wall. Angle it to the loft or tight of the child. The child tries to move left or right to catch or stop the bad before it touches the wall. The adult or a large box could be the goal for the child to roll at. Slowly move left or right (or move the goal) as the child gets ready to roll the ball.

TETHER BALL - Hang from the ceiling, a large balloon, balloon in a sack, beach ball or other soft, light weight. very visible ball. String, cord, or a combination of suing/cord and a long elastic band attached to the mouthpiece end of balloon etc., could be used to suspend the "ball" about chest level. Tap it back and forth with a partner, with several people making a circle around the balloon (about 6 to 9 foot diameter) strike it left, right, or straight ahead, pass the ball around the circle by shoving or tapping it to the person on your tight then pass it to the left.

BALLOON KEEP UP - Keep tapping the balloon into the air as long as possible, alternate tapping with a friend alternate using other body parts - tap with hand, then head, hand, knee, hand, shoulder, knee. or blow on it to get it up or keep it moving, kick it up etc. Walk, or run to a destination while tapping. Try to keep it from touching a wall or furniture.

BALLOON BADMINTON - Use hands or a large light weight mesh racquet and bat a balloon back and forth over a low net or two tables placed end to end. Balloon can be played if it bounces off the table.

FISHY CATCH THE BAIT - Attach a string or cord of about 3 feet in length to a smooth pole or yardstick. Tie 3 'bait" to the end of the string. The "bait* could be a small whiffle ball or large marshmallow etc. Swing the bait slowly in a circle at face level, back and forth, or side to side. Increase or decrease speed and area of swing but decrease both if needed for success. Size of baits can also provide for challenge or success. Fishes can even try to use mouth instead of hands to catch the bait (if edible).

STOP THE TENNIS GAME - Sit or stand the child facing the middle of a 6 to 10 foot long table. This could also be done on the floor. Two people tap a whiffle (or other ball), or roll it back and forth. The child follows the ball back and forth with eyes and when someone says stop extends arms or hand to stop the ball. The child can take a turn at rolling and tapping it and could play without the "stopper". Game has become a rolling table tennis.

ANIMAL WATCH - One or more fish in a bowl or small aquarium can provide an excellent tracking experience. Find the fish, point to it, follow with finger as it swims. Following the movements of small pet or classroom animals such as white mice, hamsters or gerbils also provides good "up close" tracking.

SCANNING

     Scanning is the ability to visually search for objects. Good scanning requires an increased visual attention span and the ability to shift glance effectively.

BUILDERS AND BULLDOZERS - Scatter small pins (bowling), cones, cartons, etc. around a room. They should all be standing. One or more children arc bulldozers and at the signal to go, they travel around and knock down any pins standing. Two or more children (there should be more than the number of bulldozers) serve as builders and they try to stand up any pins that are knocked down. Stop! Standing or knocked over pins could be counted, then change some of the builders and the bulldozers and play another round.

? HUNT ? - Could be peanut, penny, candy, colored or plastic eggs, etc. Scatter or partially hide the items and the search is on.

MUSICAL MATS - Scatter small sitting mats or pieces of rug. bases, taped squares, etc. Either stand or sit on the object or roam around and when the music stops, or a signal to sit or change is given, move quickly to a different object (if already) sitting or if moving quickly find a "mat" and sit/stand. The number of mats could be the same or fewer than the number of people.

FLY AWAY - Blow up balloons and at signal let a

go so escaping air propels the balloon into die air. Find the balloon and try again. This can be played with paper airplanes or straws wrapped In paper (tear off one end blow the paper into the air).

SPOT TAG - The game is played in a darkened room. One child at a time will face a blank- wall and will look for a spot. With a flashlight, activate and shine a spot somewhere on the wall. The child has to try to find and tag the spot. Give the next child a turn.

CLEAN YOUR HOUSE - Divide a large room or yard in half Scatter soft, safe lightweight objects (nerfballs, foam discs, cloth objects, beach balls, etc.) At the signal go, toss, roll, kick all objects to the other side. Anyone on the other side is doing die same to you. At the signal stop, look to see if your house is clean. Even up the objects and try again.

VISUAL MOTOR INTEGRATION -

This is the ability to imitate or copy what is seen.

WILDERNESS TRAIL - Make a trail using gym floor tape or even masking tape. This tape trail can go not only on the floor but over benches or other objects, under tables or other objects, around things, up or down wedge mats, etc. Begin to follow the trail by crawling,

CAR - Make a road an the floor with tape (one or 2 strips wide) make curves and lots of right angle turns. Play houses or boxes can represent home, school, store, etc. Each child has a small toy car to push along the road. Make up destinations and stay on the road.

FLASHLIGHT TAG - In a dark room have the children facing a blank wall. One 1)), one have the children chase the spot or fight shining on the wall (this is done with a strong flashlight) and touch it. Slow down if needed. Using two flashlights have a child chase your spot with his/her spot. Let the child catch you.

VISUAL DISCRIMINATION

     Visual discrimination is the ability to see how things are similar or different. This includes learning to see differences and similarities between objects, pictures, shapes, colors, sizes, and to learn to sort and match.

FRONT-BACK - Using a deck of cards place cards on a table some up some facing down. Have child help turn them all upside down.

RED CARD-BLACK CARD - Scatter cards face up on a table or the floor ask for one or a few or all the red cards. With some red and black cards showing, ask- for one or more black cards.

BIG BUTTON LITTLE BUTTON or BIG COIN LITTLE COIN - Using a large container and a small container have the child examine the buttons on a table (half are large, half are small). The game is to put all the little buttons in the little container or jar and all the big buttons in the big jar or container. The game can be played with dimes and nickels or dimes and quarters.

BIG TOY-LITTLE TOY - Show what a big toy is and what a little toy is. If more than one child -take turns finding a big toy and bring to a designated place. Take turns finding a little toy and bring to a designated place. Name all the little toys as the teacher points to each one and do the same with the big toys.

MATCH AND SORT - Invent a variety of games using different size/shape uncooked macaroni. dry beans, crayons, nuts in shells, wins, etc. They could all be on a table or in a large bowl. Choose one and ask the child to find another that is the same. Find all the coins, find all the macaroni or separate different macaroni into matching groups etc.

EYE MIND COORDINATION


     This is the ability to visually guide your own movements. Activities requiring reaching for and grasping, placing items, throwing, tossing, or any other targeting play involving pushing, shoving, or rolling objects and of course catching or striking use eye hand coordination. Eye foot coordination falls in this category and is needed I& simple tasks such as walking. running, turning jumping, stepping and kicking.

BOWLING AND PIN DOWN - Place several light weight PINS, milk cartons, etc. 4 to 6 feet from the child. possibly space them several feet apart or place together as in bowling. Roll a large hall (even a beach ball) and knock down the pins. Try to spread them and knock down one at a time. This can be done on the floor or a table.

BEAN BAG TOSS - Place a cardboard box or suspend several aluminum pie plates (low) or place them against a wall. Toss bean bags at the targets. If needed position child only a few feet from target.

SHUTTLE RELAY - Place any small but easy to see objects about a foot from a wall. Make a visible tape fine about eight feet from the wall. Position students so they can see a demonstration of running from the fine to an object pick it up and run back to put in on the line and repeat till all the objects are on the line. One person does this as everyone cheers or gives encouragement.

WIGGLE ROPE - Take an 8 to 10 foot piece of rope, plastic jump rope, etc. and while holding one end wiggle it around the room. Children can pretend they are trying to catch a long worm or a snake and try to capture it by grabbing the rope. The children can pretend the worm or snake may bite, so they have to step on it.

FIT IT IN - Put some long thin objects small no point pencils, straws, paper clips, etc. into a flat box or on a table. Children try to pick up one at a time and put into a tall narrow mouth jar or bottle. Give help if needed.

KICK A GOAL - Place a large, soft ball several feet from a large box or barrel - possibly turn box on side and try to kick the ball so it strikes or goes in.

KICK BACK AND FORTH - Try to kick a large, soft ball back and forth with a partner.

BOUNCE CATCH - Toss back and forth a large, soft ban (air filled plastic or beach ball).

Players are several feet to eight feet apart and the ball is tossed underhand and bounces one or more times before being caught.

STEP OVER THE WORMS - Cut several pieces of rope or visible thick yam and pretend they arc large worms or snake Place the worms on the floor two or three feet apart and have children walk-over the worms without stepping on them.

STEP OVER OR JUMP OVER - Pretend empty milk cartons, pieces of foam, etc. are bricks and build a series of low walls, depending on abilities one, two or three bricks high. Take turns stepping or jumping over the walls. Give assistance where needed and remind children to look at each wall as they walk to it and step or jump.

CROSS THE STREAM - Place small mats. pieces of non slip rugs or tape squares on the floor, etc. place the pieces close enough for children to step from on to another but not in a straight line. Lots of piece.-% all over in zig zag fashion would be good. 

     Pretend these are rocks in the water and to cross over they have to step on the rocks. Change the game and pretend they arc hot rocks and we am barefoot and need to hum- across this stretch of sand and rocks without stepping on the rocks.

BALLOON RELAY - Form a circle and pass an Mated balloon around the circle using hand or head to tap it. Each child can tap it several times if needed. An adult on the outside of the circle can help to bring it back in (tap) if needed. if possible, tap the balloon around the circle more than once.

PARTNER BALLOON KEEP UP - Two children use one inflated balloon and tap it back and forth as many times as possible without it touching the floor.