No matter how evolved my directionality is, I will never be able to understand “turn west out of the car park” Wait what? Directionality is being able to follow or discriminate left and right, top and bottom. Today’s post is offering a Shamrock Directionality Maze freebie to work on both of these skills. This is especially important when learning to write or read left to right.
Following a map with oral or written directions is much more difficult without the understanding of left and right. Try playing Simon Says with a group of your learners. This will quickly help point out the directionally challenged right away.
Before assuming your learner can not learn visual perception, work on teaching and training the eyes and brain to perceive the difference between items. There are ways to accommodate for this deficit, however, try practice first.
Today’s Shamrock directionality maze goes really well with our other St. Patrick’s Day Activities free resources for this time of year:
- Four Leaf Clover balance exercises
- Shamrock Theme Visual Perception Activities
- St. Patrick’s Day Writing Slide Deck
Can your learner see?
When addressing vision and visual perceptual deficits, it is important to rule out visual acuity issues before addressing perceptual difficulties. What might appear to be difficulty learning because of perception, may simply be that your learner is not able to see the words correctly. Glasses are a much simpler fix than working out visual perceptual delays.
types of visual perception
There are seven different types of visual perception. Each plays a key role in visual development. This Shamrock Visual Discrimination Maze focuses on visual discrimination and directionality.
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making this shamrock directionality maze purely visual perceptual
In order to make this purely a visual perceptual activity, any type of writing or coloring needs to be eliminated. Adding a fine motor skill, while an excellent way to use this visual discrimination maze, muddies your data. While making this purely a visual perceptual task, prepare your page by coloring all of the items exactly the same, or leaving them all plain, and laminating the page. Ask your learner to use their finger to follow the direction of the maze.
Testing Visual Perception with classic tests such as the Motor Free Visual Perception Test (MVPT), eliminates writing or letter recognition, by asking learners to point, or otherwise indicate the correct answer.
Teaching kids to follow the directions they need to physically move right, left, up, down requires development of spatial concepts such as spatial reasoning. This can be a real challenge for some kids!
Many treatment sessions focus on more than one goal. This is more functional and relevant to classroom objectives than isolating skills. Worksheets like the Shamrock Discrimination Maze encompass more than one skill such as coloring, cutting, gluing, reading, following directions, etc. Add fine motor skills to this free worksheet, by asking your learner to follow the maze with their writing tool, then color the shamrocks as they follow the path.
We’ve shared directionality activities before that help kids navigate and use maps with movement.
Other ways to use this Visual Discrimination Activity:
- Laminate the Shamrock Directionality Maze to make it reusable. This is efficient, wastes less resources, and learners love markers! Note: not all learners love reusable pages. Some feel it is important to be able to save their work and take it home
- Project this shamrock activity onto a smart board to make it a group task, or work on large motor movement and shoulder stability
- Enlarge the task for beginning learners who need more writing or coloring space.
- Shrink the task for more advanced learners who need to learn to color in smaller spaces, or follow smaller directions
- Try different writing utensils. Some learners work better with markers as they glide easier on paper. Did you know that golf sized pencils and broken crayons promote more of a tripod grasp than traditional long versions?
- Try different colored paper for more or less visual contrast
- Use (Amazon affiliate link) Dot or Bingo markers to mark the path as the arrows are followed
- Have learners call the direction out loud as they pass it. Down, right, down, left, etc.
- Incorporate other methods to teach directionality, such as playing in a mirror, Simon Says, line dancing, follow the leader, Twister, or the Hokey Pokey
- Add several visual perceptual tasks to further improve skills. The Visual Brain has informative resources on Visual Discrimination and directionality
Shamrocks and Spring Together!
Need more shamrocks? The OT Toolbox has a great post including All Things Shamrocks. Check it out.
If your theme encompasses Spring, the OT Toolbox has a great Spring Occupational Therapy Activities Book filled with 109 activities
In the Spring OT packet, you will find:
- Spring Proprioceptive, Vestibular, Visual and Tactile Processing Activities
- Olfactory, Auditory, Oral Motor, Fine Motor Spring Activities
- Gross Motor Activities
- Handwriting Practice Prompts
- Spring Themed Brain Breaks
- Occupational Therapy Homework Page
- Client-Centered Worksheet
- 5 pages of Visual Perceptual Skill Activities
East or West may always be confusing
For some, directionality, visual perception, and laterality come easy. Others need to be taught repeatedly with activities like the Shamrock Directionality Maze, or given accommodations and strategies to overcome this difficulty. I fear I may never be able to follow west/south directions. Is there a google maps adaptation for dummies that would translate west and east into left and right? I have mastered those directions.
Even though summer is by far my favorite season, spring is much better than winter! Let’s hope you are digging out of the snow and getting some warmer days, so you can get out and head west out of your driveway!
Free St. Patrick’s Day Directionality Maze
Want a printable resource to build directionality and visual perception skills? Enter your email address into the form below to access this clover maze. This printable is available inside our Member’s Club during the month of March. Members can log in and quickly access the printable, along with all of the other free items here on The OT Toolbox.
Victoria Wood, OTR/L is a contributor to The OT Toolbox and has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.
- Note: the term, “learner” is used throughout this post for consistency, however this information is relevant for students, patients, clients, kids or children of all ages and stages, or whomever could benefit from these resources. The term “they” is used instead of he/she to be inclusive.