The sense of sight is probably the sense we value the most, because we depend on it during almost all of our waking hours for moving, safety, getting food, working, etc. Like all other senses, sight can be explained to kids according to their level of understanding. You can see all our posts on the five senses here.
From the basic idea that we use eyes to see, to the advanced details of how eyes perceive light and the signals travel to brain where they are interpreted as vision, there is a lot of ground to cover that allows a wide variety of interesting play based activities for the appreciation of vision, for enhancing visual skills and for increasing awareness about eyes, sight, blindness and blind people.
Visual Acuity or ability to see sharp, near and far
Begin with explaining to the child about vision, or sight or our ability to see and the fact that we see with our eyes.
Points to discuss over time:
We can see the far away things, things around us, each other, and the near things like the book we are reading because of our eyes. Our eyes are very important.
Some people and some children cannot see clearly or at all. This can be conveyed by covering the eyes with a translucent dupatta and then a very opaque thick cloth.
Some people including kids need glasses to see clearly. If they need help with their notes, teachers and other students should help them as required.
If you or anyone has trouble seeing the class board clearly, tell the grown-ups.
Games to Play
1. Hide and seek - with twists and variations is an entertaining way to enjoy the gift of sight.
2. Guessing games - Close your eyes and guess the number of fingers I am showing, then see. All sorts of finger hiding games are fun to do and great way to learn numbers.
3. Magnify small things with a magnifying glass. I use this one from Okayji as it is large enough for kids to handle.
4. Fun Magic with Light - even without explaining about refraction, this is a simple, yet magical activity to show a child.
Needless to say, one of the important aims of preschool learning is to know about colours. Depending on the child's ability, you can teach the child the names of 3-10 colours in English and your mother tongue. Artistic activities with crayons, paints are essential for the development of creativity, artistic skills and related vocabulary.
Games to play
1. Inky Pinky Kaun Sa Colour - this is an Indian kids' game we would play in the garden. Basically, we go to a place which has a lot of visual variety like a park, garden etc. This is a game played by 2 or more players. We take turns to play the finder. There, the finder person closes their eyes, while others huddle and confer and choose an item of a certain colour (say, Red). Then they call out that they are ready. The Finder would ask, "Inky Pinky Kaun Sa Colour?" (Inky pinky, which colour?) One of the team replies, "Hum ko chahiye red colour" (We want red colour). And the finder has to find something red and point it out. A time can be set to make things more challenging. It is a great way to practice colours and you can make a variation of this game that suits you!
2. I-Spy - Using colour descriptions like I see something that is small and blue.
3. Painting Activities - Including finger painting, primary colours of art - red, yellow and blue (primary colours in science are red, green and blue), colour mixing and colour wheel.
You can check out our previous post on Holi for more colourful activities:
Teach an older child about a colour wheel. You can download a colour wheel and colour mixing sheet here:
4. Hues - Understanding light and dark hues. You can play a game of arranging and matching color gradation cards from darkest to lightest. You can get the card here and print them out : Pinterest Link
Patterns are an important part of our lives in more ways than we can imagine. We have patterns in our daily rhythms, in events, in seasons, in designs of dresses, buildings and flowers, stationery, celestial bodies and so on. We are hardwired to look for and catch patterns, sometimes falsely. A lot of fun activities can be made using patterns.
Activities to do
1. Pattern drawing, matching and making - Using colours, stamps, beads, stickers, cotton balls, etc. I am also a big fan of Perler Beads, and highly recommend those. You can check out this product on Amazon.
These are perler beads products (available on Amazon India) that I have personally used for my child:
Perler Beads Assorted Small and Large Pegboards for Kid's Crafts, 6 pcs (a circle; heart; square; hexagon; and six-sided star)
Perler Beads Small Fun Shaped Pegboards - 7 Count (Car/Dog/Daisy/Dolphin/Heart)
Perler Beads Small Animal Pegboards- 4 Count (a dog, a monkey, a frog, and an octopus)
Perler Beads Jar Multi-Mix Colors (22000 Count Bead) (this really lasted me a long time. Before that, I had bought many small packs, which got finished quickly. And they turned out to be less cost-effective than this jumbo box)
Many pattern activities can be done at home easily. An example:
2. Visual discrimination activities and worksheets -
You can find visual discrimination worksheets for free on net, but you can also make a lot of visual discrimination activities at home.
Visual Illusions for Older Kids
Optical illusions are fun even for adults, but kids are especially amazed when you show them how our eyes can deceive us. Try these activities for slightly older kids and they are going to be pretty amazed. You might need to adapt some of the activities for kids below 8 years. For kids who don't yet know how to use a ruler, it makes more sense to put a shape over another to compare sizes.
How to care for our eyes
Tell your child how precious our eyes are and how we must care for them. It is a great opportunity to talk about how it is not good to be watching too much displays for too long in a day.
Doing Sense of Sight activities also allows us the chance to introduce child to disabilities related to sight and to understand that our world includes people who cannot see well, and who cannot see at all. These open discussions are great to boost a child's confidence if they wear glasses, and to make them inclusive in their thoughts if they are normal sighted.
It is a good idea to also tell kids about the eyes of other animals, how the eyes of some animals shine in the dark and how some animals can't see well like us and use other methods to understand the world around them. Depending on the child's interest and maturity, you can tell them about termites, nocturnal animals like bats and totally blind animals that live in deep holes.
Unless one is sensitive to disabled people or has lived with them, one does not particularly understand their world. If we are looking to build a kinder and more peaceful world, I believe seeing and understanding people who are very different to us is crucial.
Some activities to try with these discussions are:
1. How blind people depend on touch to realize the world. Putting a pompom in each hole of an ice cube tray with blindfold on.
2. How blind people use sense of hearing to perceive the world. : Follow the voice and catch Mum/Dad with blindfold on.
This video by Abel Ruiz-Vazquez, Storyteller and children’s book illustrator may not be understood by small kids on their own, but shows us grown-ups a wonderful and sensitive way to talk about blindness.
Another form of visual deficiency is colour blindness. To understand how colour-blind people see the world, check out this video:
It is important to convey that in spite of disabilities, people can have different kinds of occupations and can do many things even better than sighted people. Everyone, regardless of their abilities, is a part of this wonderful world that we live in.
Louis Braille and Helen Keller
Finally, tell your child that just like there are different scripts for us to write and read, there is also a script for blind people and they can read and understand the script by touching it. Many public places, lifts and such places have instructions in Braille; if you get the chance to see such places, do not forget to show your child. Similarly, Helen Keller's legacy is not just about disability rights, it is also to remind us that possibilities are endless and we must keep our minds open and work hard towards our goals.
The stories of Helen Keller and Louis Braille are timeless tales about determination, human grit and resilience. If your child is old enough, do tell them about these inspiring stories.
Check out our free worksheets available on the Subscriber's Page by signing up here.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By purchasing through these links, you help support our content at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!