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*,
- Form Constancy – the ability to identify a form even if it is different in size, orientation, color, or texture.
- Figure Ground – the ability to distinguish a form from the surrounding background.
- Spatial Relations/Position in Space – the ability to understand the position of objects
in relation to each other and to one’s self.
- Visual Discrimination – the ability to perceive the differences and similarities in forms.
- Visual Closure – the ability to identify a form even though part of it is not visible.
- 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.
- Imitate: Is completing a task after watching a person complete it.
- Copy: Is completing a task after seeing the FINISHED product. (Making a circle after looking at a picture/drawing of a circle)
- 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).
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
- 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.