Visual memory is a vital skill that needs to be developed in the early years. There are many simple visual memory games you can play with children that will help develop it through play.
What is Visual Memory?
Visual perception involves understanding what you see. When you see something, your eyes send signals to your brain. The brain then needs to make sense of what is sent.
Visual memory is only one aspect of visual perception and is the ability to remember what is seen.
Here are some other parts of visual perception, as explained by Marike de Witt in her book “The Young Child in Context: A psycho-social perspective“.
Visual discrimination is being able to see similarities and differences in things.
Sequential memory includes being able to understand what happens before and after, in a sequence of events. This also works with letters and numbers.
Visual comprehension is the process of understanding what you see.
Perception of shapes
This means being able to tell the difference between objects and shapes.
Depth perception includes telling how far apart things are from each other.
Figure-ground perception is the ability to focus on some objects while blocking out others.
Visual analysis and synthesis
Visual analysis and synthesis is about seeing patterns and putting them together as well.
Visual closure is the ability to understand what the full object is just by seeing a part of it.
Each aspect forms part of visual perception and allows us to understand and process what we see each and every day.
How Visual Memory Builds Skills for School
Visual memory helps your kids with many skills, especially for school.
It aids in building spelling and maths skills. It helps children remember sight words along with how to correctly calculate two numbers. Visual memory also makes ot easier to solve problems.
Visual memory is an important part of building pre-reading skills. Without good visual memory, a child would struggle to form letters or learn to read by recognizing the shapes of familiar letters and words.
12 Games and Activities to Build Visual Memory
Here are 12 visual memory games for kids to build this important skill.
1. Memory Card Game
Make your own cards or get printable ones by downloading the FREE printables set at the end of the post!
Lay them down and take turns picking two. If you find a match, keep it.
This helps kids remember what they saw previously and where it was located.
2. What’s Missing?
Put random objects on a plate or tray. Cover them up and reveal them for 10 seconds. Then, immediately cover them again. Have children tell you all the objects they remember.
Make sure they don’t say the objects out loud as it will trigger auditory memory instead of visual. Also, only include objects your kids recognize.
You can make it as difficult or as easy as possible to help stimulate your children.
3. Magic Cup Game
Put an object under a cup and move it around amongst other cups. As soon as you stop, your child has to figure out which cup the object is under.
This will stimulate their brain and activate their visual memory.
4. Slap Jack
This is a game I always played as a child, and I loved it!
You take a deck of cards and split it equally with each player. Don’t look at the cards in your hand. Take turns flipping them to see the face of the cards in a pile. When a Jack is turned, you have to slap it.
The first person to slap it wins the pile. When you run out of cards, you are out of the game.
This will help kids focus on the cards’ faces to find a Jack.
5. Total Recall
Lay out pictures and have your child look at them for a few seconds. Then, they either have to draw them or tell the correct order of the pictures. You can make it as difficult or as easy as you want.
6. Picture Study
Look at pictures of art. Study each one for 30 seconds.
Then ask your children questions about what they saw. Here are some examples of what to ask about:
- time of day
- a story about the pictures
You can ask any questions you like. They will then have to recall what they saw previously to answer each question.
7. I Spy
This is another easy game that doesn’t involve anything but your eyes. Take turns finding an object in the environment around you and have the other person try to guess what it might be.
This will allow kids to focus only on what they see to determine the right answer.
8. Tic Tac Toe
While regular tic tac toe is good, you can change it up a bit to make it more challenging.
Try to use only the grid. Point to where you want to go, without placing a marker. Your children have to remember whether each square is full or empty. It will be a challenge but will improve their visual memory.
Or, play tic tac toe in your garden and build some gross motor skills at the same time. As a variation to playing with these tiles, simply step into the square you choose and then step out. The players have to remember which squares are taken.
9. Picture Copy
Draw a picture on a whiteboard, then have your children repeat it exactly. Have them try their hardest to get every single detail.
You can draw anything. Gradually add more detail to make it a challenge.
Puzzles are a great help for visual memory. Make sure to find puzzles that are suitable for your kids’ age. The younger the child, the bigger and fewer pieces the puzzle should have.
The right puzzle is one that is challenging, but not so much that a child can’t build it independently.
Try the printable puzzles in my FREE printables set, available at the end of the article!
11. Spot the Difference
You can find printable ones online that are great practice for your child. There are two pictures and the object of the game is to see where the differences are. Both pictures are exactly alike, apart from a few differences.
There are easier ones, or you can find more difficult ones. Each will strengthen the visual memory system.
Can you spot the differences between these two pictures?
12. Connect Four
Take turns putting a coin into the grid. The goal is to try to make a line of four of your coins. The first person to do so wins.
This game activates the brain and makes kids think by using the visual cues of the coins in front of them.
Each of these visual memory activities for kids is fun but also has educational value. They will help build your children’s visual memory and also important pre-reading skills.
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Wednesday 29th of December 2021
Ooh, the Slap Jack game sounds fun! I need to keep this in mind next time the preschooler I babysit comes over...Thank you for this post!
Amena nazneen Anjum
Friday 10th of July 2020
Excellent I like it very much .my son isn't attentive and has poor concentration and focus .can u suggest some thing good for me to help him out.
Thursday 16th of July 2020
Hi Amena, thanks for your comment. Here is an article for you, all about attention span: https://empoweredparents.co/10-ways-to-develop-your-preschoolers-concentration-span/ I hope it helps!
Thursday 30th of April 2020
I like it
Friday 1st of May 2020
Thank you :-)