Homeschool Diner Logo -- 1960's style sign with atomic starburst
Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
Copyright 2006 by Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
about the book
The Homeschool Diner's
Homeschooling Special Situations
Specific Skills Help

Simple Activities That Require Pattern
Discrimination and Attention to Visual Detail

compiled by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2005, 2007

Some simple activities that provide your child with practice in pattern
discrimination, noting visual detail, and visual memory...

These activities provide practice in skills such as attention to visual detail,
pattern discrimination, and visual memory.   Choose activities from this list
that seem appropriate for your child’s age, abilities, and interests.  

Some children have a particularly hard time with visual activities, may tire
easily, or complain of a headache.  Keep in mind that a child who's having
a lot of trouble may be showing a deficit in their visual skills, and might
benefit by seeing a Developmental Optometrist for an assessment.  See
Homeschooling with Dyslexia and Visual Skills Problems section
for more information.

These activities should be presented to your child as fun and low-
pressure art projects or play time activities.  Some children will prefer to
watch YOU do the activity for a while, or watch while you instruct siblings.  
That's OK -- many children like to learn new things by watching others...
but give them every opportunity to join in.  Be sure to make mistakes
yourself – to keep your child from being disheartened, and because
children learn by observing, as well as by doing, and mistakes are great
opportunities for learning.   Feel free to modify the activities to suit the
ability and interests of your child.

Pattern Discrimination Activities:

Color Hop
Make a Rainbow
Pattern Repeat
Pattern Tiles
Pony Bead Kits
Hama Bead Kits
Counted Cross-Stitch
3-D Pattern Repeat
String Figures

Activity Descriptions:

Color Hop
This is a game a little like Twister.  In an area free of obstacles, place a
number of colored patches on the floor.  The patches may be colored
chalk on a driveway, construction paper taped securely to the floor,
squares of colored duct tape, or even different colored washcloths or
fabric pieces laid on a carpeted area.  The person who is "It" calls out a
challenge to the other player(s), such as can you "step on a green
square?", "hop to a red square?", "put your hand on an aqua square?",
"step over a blue circle?", etc.  After playing this way for a while, make up
harder challenges, such as "can you hop from a blue square to a red
square?", "can you touch a red and blue square at the same time?", can
you sit on a red square and put your feet on a brown square and a red
square?", "can you hop all the way across on only blue squares?".  
Challenges that cause a player to reach and contort are especially fun ;-)  
Take turns being It (letting your child call the challenges) and be sure to
laugh, groan, and fall down a lot ;-)      

Make a Rainbow
Draw a rainbow using several colors (they don't need to be realistic
rainbows).  Have your child copy your rainbow. Let your child make a
rainbow for you to copy.  Repeat with more colors. Try drawing comets, or
hair ribbons, or fish, other objects that might have a color pattern.

Pattern Repeat
Lay out a series of colored items in a pattern for your child to add to. Start
with two colors, such as red and blue, and begin with an alternating red-
blue pattern at least six items long.  Have your child add to the end to
extend your pattern (can he tell which comes next?).  Gradually increase
the pattern complexity and number of colors used.  Possible items to use:
blocks, Lego’s, pop-it beads, candies, crayons, breakfast cereal, etc.  Try
making patterns with various shaped and sized items, too.  Try using
plastic pony beads or colored pasta to make patterned bracelets or

Pattern Tiles and Tangrams
Pattern tiles are tubs of plastic tiles in various geometric shapes that can
be used to make geometric patterns, illustrations, or artful designs.  Your
child can follow the patterns included, or you can take turns making
patterns to be copied.  Tangrams, based on an ancient Chinese puzzle,
are a similar product  that comes with seven tiles to be arranged to match
given patterns.   (Tangrams patterns are a lot more difficult to copy)

Pony Bead Kits
Have child string pony beads into decorative back-pack fobs or key
chains.  There are kits and pattern books available in craft stores – the
beads are strung on a string or plastic lacing, then woven back and forth
to create animals, etc.  Here are some
free online patterns.  Of course,
be aware of and take precautions against choking hazards with young

Hama Bead Kits
Hama Beads and Perler Beads are small tubular plastic beads that are
placed (following a pattern) on a holder, then ironed to melt them into a
permanent decorative item for use as a key chain, etc.  Kits and pattern
books are available in craft stores.  They come in small, medium, and
large sizes (you can choose larger ones if your child has a lot of trouble
with fine motor tasks).  Of course, be aware of and take precautions
against choking hazards with young children.

Counted Cross-Stich
Fabric is stitched with a decorative picture or design, following a pattern.  
Craft stores carry a great variety of kits and pattern books for ages 5 and
up. The kits for younger children use a larger grid and a blunt, plastic

3-D Pattern Repeat
Use building toys, such as Lego’s or K’Nex, to make 3-D forms for your
child to copy.  If your child already plays with these kinds of toys, you can
begin by asking him to show you how to make a copy of something he has
already built – an exact duplicate (same pieces in the same colors he
used originally).  Ask him for help and direction in completing the
duplicate.  Continue the activity by creating your own 3-D form for your
child to copy (with your help and direction where needed).  As your child
masters this activity, you can turn it into a challenge, saying “Here is my
design – can you copy it?”  

Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, requires a child to follow a
sequence of instructions to create various figures.  The instructions are
typically a combination of visual diagrams and written instructions.  This is
wonderful practice for 3-D pattern repeat, visual discrimination, paying
attention to detail, and remembering a sequence of mental images (of
how the figure should look).

String Figures
Check your library for books and videos on learning to do string figures.  
The instructions are usually presented visually – either by illustrations,
photos, or on video.  This is wonderful practice for 3-D pattern repeat,
visual discrimination, paying attention to detail, and remembering a
sequence of mental images (of how the figure should look).  

For the next level of activities go to:
Simple Games to Exercise Your Child's
Visual Perception and Visual-Motor Integration
site map
(back to)
short term memory
(back to)
special needs