The OT Toolbox: Visual Motor Skills

We have shared quite a few posts relating to vision and the integration of what the eyes see with motor movements.  On this page, you will find a huge variety of visual motor activities for kids.  Visual motor skills are needed for coordinating the hands, legs, and the rest of the body's movements with what the eyes perceive.  

What are Visual Motor Skills?

Visual Motor Skills enable an individual to process information around them.  The ability to observe, recognize, and use visual information about forms, shapes, figures, and objects makes up our visual motor abilities.  Visual motor skills include a coordination of visual information that is perceived and processed with motor skills, including fine motor, gross motor, and sensory motor.   

When a child performs activities involving motor tasks, they are using visual motor skills. 

Red flags for visual motor skill difficulties include: 

Letter reversal
Poor line awareness in handwriting
Poor margin use in written work
Difficulty copying written work
Trouble recognizing patterns and completing hands-on math problems
Difficulty catching or kicking a ball
Trouble with movement games like hopscotch.
Difficulty with sports
Difficulty drawing and copying pictures or shapes
Visual Motor Skills are made up of many areas related to vision and the ability to perceive sight with relation to movement of the hands and body in functional tasks.  
Visual perceptual skills make up an important component of visual motor skills. For children, these abilities are necessary for so many things...from self-care to fine motor skills, to gross motor skills...all parts of a child's development require visual perception.  There are many pieces to the giant term of "visual perception".  

Kids rely on their development of visual perceptual skills for so many functional tasks.  From handwriting to self-care, visual motor skills are important!  This blog has so many ideas for activities to work on visual motor and eye hand coordination with kids!

When it comes to vision, there is so much to learn!  Start by checking out Visual Motor Integration developmental milestones for age-appropriate skills that children typically master from age 0-5.

Activities to help develop visual motor integration:

The activities below are designed to develop the ability to integrate and coordinate visual input with motor skills.  I am breaking down the activities into different areas.  Click on the main links to find even more explanation of each area. 

Hand-Eye Coordination Activity for Kids

Hand-eye coordination is using the information received through the vision system to coordinate the hands with control, in order to complete a task, such as handwriting or catching a ball.

 Visual motor integration activities using paper visual processing and visual efficiency problems

 The Floor is Lava game

Toddler ping pong activity
Play Dough noodle color mattch
Feather Beading
Visual scanning is essential for handwriting skills, puzzles, word searches, mazes, and many many functional tasks.  Scanning a room for a missing sock may be difficult if a child demonstrates difficulty with visual scanning.

Penguin math activity

Finger dexterity game with recycled bubble wrap
Sight word sensory bin with shredded paper
Cardboard box golf tee hammering
Letter learning with recycled bottle caps
Recycled bottle cap sight word stamps
Visual Scanning Activities
Sight word game
Giant motor planning maze

Visual Spatial Relations is organizing the body in relation to objects or spatial awareness.  This is an important part of handwriting.  Spacing pieces of a puzzle amongst the others and writing in relation to the lines is one way to work on this skill.

Visual Discrimination is determining differences in color, form, size, shape. 

Visual Closure is the ability to fill in parts of a form in the mind's eye to determine shape or a whole object.  

Visual Figure Ground is the ability to locate objects within a cluttered area (think "I Spy").  Finding a red square among the pile of foam pieces is one fun way to work on this area of visual perception.