Saturday, August 27, 2011

Monkey see, monkey do. Lego Style.


When writing, coloring, creating with our hands we use 3 primary skills.

A. Fine Motor Skills: According to Wikipedia, Fine motor skills are the coordination of small muscle movements which occur e.g., in the fingers, usually in coordination with the eyes 

B. Visual Perceptual Skills: Visual Perception Skills help a person obtain and organize the information they collect from their environment and then interpret what they see. There are 6 types of Visual Perceptual Skills*,
  1. Form Constancy – the ability to identify a form even if it is different in size, orientation, color, or texture.
  2. Figure Ground – the ability to distinguish a form from the surrounding background.
  3. Spatial Relations/Position in Space – the ability to understand the position of objects
    in relation to each other and to one’s self.
  4. Visual Discrimination – the ability to perceive the differences and similarities in forms.
  5. Visual Closure – the ability to identify a form even though part of it is not visible.
  6.  Visual Memory – the ability to remember what one sees.
C. Visual Motor Skills: Visual Motor Skills help a person control their movements based on visual information. These skills should develop sequentially.
  1. Imitate: Is completing a task after watching a person complete it.
  2. Copy: Is completing a task after seeing the FINISHED product. (Making a circle after looking at a picture/drawing of a circle)
  3. Visual Memory: Forming/drawing a shape/letter from memory. (You tell your child to make a circle and they can picture it in their mind and draw it).
If a child/person is difficulty in any of the above areas you may see: delay in or decreased reading skills, poor handwriting, inability to tie shoes or other small motor tasks, difficulty in locating items, they may appear clumsy and/or messy (bumping into things/knocking things over). The list goes on and on.

     The Developmental Sequence of Visual Motor Skills*

    • 12-16 Months: Scribbles on paper
    • 16-20 Months: Imitates vertical and horizontal scribbles
    • 20-24 Months: Imitates circular scribbles as well as single vertical and horizontal lines
    • 2-3 Years: Imitates single circle; can copy vertical and horizontal lines
    • 3-4 Years: Imitates single circle; can copy vertical and horizontal lines 
    • 4-5 Years: Copies cross, square, oblique lines; imitates and copies “X”; imitates some letters and numbers; may begin imitating and copying name
    • 5-6 Years: Copies a triangle and most letters, writes name and some letters from memory

    How to use Legos/blocks to work on Visual Perceptual and Visual Motor Skills 

    • Make a simple pattern with Lego pieces and give your child some of the exact same pieces and have them try to "Imitate" it.
    • Grade it up by having them close their eyes while you are forming it and then have them try to "Copy" it. 
    • You can even show them the piece for a limited amount of time (say 5-30 seconds) and see if they can create it using their Visual Memory. 
    • Make a shape out of Legos...Say a rectangle and ask your child if they can form the shape using DIFFERENT pieces. (Test it out to make sure its possible).  
    • Another way to grade it is to use less pieces to make it easier (3-5 large ones) and more (8-10 small ones) to make it more difficult. 
      If can you are interested the SJ (the girl in the picture) "Copied" the Lego block pattern. I made the shape without her looking and then provided her with the pieces and asked her to form it.

      *I found an amazing handout from the company Super Duper explaining Visual Perception and Visual Motor Skills. Thanks to OT's Amber Swearingen & Tara Calder for putting it together.

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