Skip to Content

12 Visual Memory Games and Activities for Kids

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

Visual discrimination is being able to see similarities and differences in things.

Sequential memory

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

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

Depth perception includes telling how far apart things are from each other.

Figure-ground perception

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

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 use a set of matching cards.

Lay them down and take turns picking two. If you find a match, keep it.

Visual memory matching card game

This helps kids remember what they saw previously and where it was located.

(Get your own set of printable memory card games here!)

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.

Magic cup memory game

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.

Landscape art

Then ask your children questions about what they saw. Here are some examples of what to ask about:

  • shapes
  • lines
  • colours
  • actions
  • characters
  • time of day
  • season
  • 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.

Outdoor tic tac toe

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.  

10. Puzzles

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.

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?

Spot the difference 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.

12 Visual Memory Activities for Kids Pinnable Image

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Anonymous

Tuesday 21st of May 2024

Thank you so much for all the great tips, tools, ideas and quality information you share on Empowered parents, Tanja. Me and my fellow teachers absolutely love all your posts.

Tanja McIlroy

Tuesday 21st of May 2024

Thanks for your lovely comment!

Anonymous

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.

Tanja Mcilroy

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!

Vaggelis

Thursday 30th of April 2020

I like it

Tanja Mcilroy

Friday 1st of May 2020

Thank you :-)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.