Games for the Brain: 4 Games to Improve Visual Discrimination
Welcome back to another post in our Games for the Brain series. This series introduces different games that target learning skills.
Today, we are going to look at games that improve visual discrimination skills.
Visual discrimination is the ability to perceive similarities and differences between two objects. You can see differences in size, shape, color, texture and many other things.
Visual discrimination is key to reading and writing. Some letters and numbers look very similar (b and d, 3 and 8). If these are mixed up, reading, writing, and mathematics become so much more difficult (duck becomes buck, 2+8=5… oops!).
Being able to pick out the details that distinguish one thing from another is important. Let’s talk about some fun ways to increase this skill.
The first two games you may have seen in our last post about games to improve processing speed. They also work great for visual discrimination:
Blink™ is a fast-paced, matching card game. The deck is split between the players. You must match your cards with the top card of the play deck. You match cards by shape, number or color. The first player to play all their cards wins!
No taking turns here! Each player hurries to put down as many cards as they can. The player who can visually discriminate the similarities between their cards and the top card of the deck will have the advantage.
You can also use the deck of Blink™ to practice sorting by an attribute they have trouble discriminating. If your child struggles to discriminate shapes, have them sort the Blink™ deck by shape. Challenge them to work as quickly as possible. Can they beat their fastest time?
Spot It!™ is a fast-paced, matching card game with lots of visual interest. With dozens of variants including Numbers and Letters, Basic Spanish and NHL®, you can find a version of Spot It!™ for your family to love.
Spot It!™ challenges you to, well… spot it! Each card has various symbols, pictures or words on it. Some are easier to spot than others. Every card will have at least one matching picture with every other card.
There are many ways to play Spot It!™. At Pathfinders, each player starts with one card in front of them and the rest in the middle of the table. The top deck card is revealed. The players try to find a picture on their card that matches the deck card. Whoever spots it first wins that deck card. This becomes the new card they are going to match to the new deck card. After all the deck cards have been claimed, the player with the most cards wins!
Another way to play is to put two cards face up in front of the players. The first player to spot the matching symbol wins those two cards. Play through the entire deck. The player with the most cards wins!
Spot It!™ requires you to process the visual information on the cards, find a match and call it out as quickly as possible. Visual discrimination skills are key to success at Spot It!™. If your child is having difficulties with their shapes or with numbers, you can choose a Spot It!™ deck to work on those trouble areas.
I SPY Eagle Eye Find-It Game™
The I SPY Eagle Eye Find-It Game™ is a more challenging form of Spot It!™. Players get their own boards on which there is a very detailed photograph. Hundreds of small objects are in these photographs. The players share a deck of cards. Each card has a handful of objects on it. Each player tries to find one of these objects on their board. The first player to find a match wins the round.
Like Spot It!™, the player is trying to find a one-image match between their board and the deck card. The images in I SPY, however, are much smaller and can be more similar than the images in Spot It!™. This really challenges your visual discrimination skills.
Because of that, though – and the cool bell and magnifying glass that comes with it – I SPY Eagle Eye Find-It Game™ is a better game for kids who are no longer challenged by Spot It!™.
Rush Hour® Traffic Jam Logic Game
Rush Hour® is a sliding block, logic game that challenges players to escape from a traffic jam. There are dozens of levels in Rush Hour® to challenge the novice and expert alike.
For those with visual discrimination skills, setting up Rush Hour® can be a fun challenge. The player must choose the level they want to play, then set up their board correctly. They must place the correctly sized and colored car in the correct spot during set up. If they don’t, they will never be able to solve the puzzle.
At Pathfinders, we like playing Rush Hour® a different way. Instead of focusing on logic and reasoning skills, we use the game to improve visual discrimination and sequencing skills.
We have the player choose their level and set up the game board as usual. Then we flip over the level card and reveal the puzzle’s solution. The player then has to go step-by-step through the directions to solve the puzzle. They must be able to discriminate the letters and numbers in the directions to move the cars correctly. (AU1 means move car A Up 1 space.) Mixing up any of these symbols will make solving the puzzle impossible.
Not only does the player need to be able to read the letter and number directions correctly. They also need to be able to find that physical car and move it correctly, too. Sounds simple, but it is a great challenge for those with visual discrimination issues.
Which of these visual discrimination games is your favorite? We challenge you to try one of the other games at your next family game night. Check back for more posts in Games for the Brain, where we’ll suggest games to improve logic and reasoning, fine motor skills and more.