Skip to main content

Lockdown Day 82 – Visual Perception

Education of the Senses

In previous posts we have explored the importance of the child learning through the senses. We have discussed visual discrimination of size and, shape and colour.

Today’s post is centred on the overall importance of VISUAL PERCEPTION. Visual perception refers to the visual skill set required in order for us to understand, evaluate and interpret what we see.

An important part of visual perception is VISUAL FORM CONSTANCY.

VISUAL FORM CONSTANCY is a particular visual perception skill that requires the recognition and identification of items regardless of a change in shape, colour, size, texture, context or orientation. It is the ability to recognise that an item remains the same despite changes in size, direction, colour, texture etc. This skill develops the ability to mentally manipulate these forms and visualise the resulting outcomes.

For example, when we see a picture of a cat’s shadow we know that this is cat despite not being able to see any of its features because it has the ‘form’ of a cat. Similarly, if we see multiple pictures of the same cat shape back-to-front and/or upside-down, we will still recognise this as a cat. The same applies to numbers and letters of different sizes and font styles, which will later influence reading and maths skills.

Children with under-developed visual form constancy skills may have difficulty with the following activities:

  • building Lego or Duplo constructions from the instructions
  • the recognition that a picture can represent a real object
  • categorising or classifying objects, shapes, colours, textures, etc.
  • recognising everyday objects when they are placed in a different context or position
  • reading the same word in different fonts

There are many age-appropriate and fun activities that we can engage children in to strengthen their form constancy skills on a daily basis.

  • Involve the child in your laundry chores and challenge the child to sort the items by shape, size, and/or colour.
  • Place a number of objects on a table, or at a workspace, and ask the child to identify which of the objects is the largest, hardest, most colourful, thickest, and so on.
  • Invite the child sort a pile of socks into matching pairs.
  • Cut out various shapes in different sizes, colours, and textures. Hold up one shape and have the child identify which of the remaining are the same.
  • Print out or draw pictures of 3D objects such as a sphere, cube, cylinder, and various prisms and challenge the child to find household items that have the same shape. For example: a Pringles chip container has the same shape as a cylinder. A Toblerone chocolate box has the same shape as a triangular-based prism.
  • Take one object and place it in different ways. Discuss with the child how this changes the look (and the functionality) of the object, but that the object remains the same. For example: a cylinder placed vertically can be used to store goods inside. A cylinder used horizontally can be used as a roller to flatten objects.
  • Play games where you ask the child to find an object that is the same colour as her/his shirt or shorts.
  • Ask the child to identify all the square objects in a room, then all the blue objects, the rough objects, the small objects etc.
  • Play ‘I Spy’ with a form constancy twist. I Spy with my little eye something that is big/cold/furry/purple etc.

Whilst these all seem like such simple activities, they are so vitally important in building the child’s visual constancy skills that are so very necessary for the child’s later academic success.

Have fun!


Find all of our lockdown tips here –