our everyday life

Perceptual Activities for Toddlers

by Susan Revermann, studioD

When you’re choosing toys and activities for your toddler, consider items that help develop his perceptual abilities. Your little one is still learning how to discriminate colors, shapes, relationships, sequences and patterns, so offering him perceptual activities can help him figure out how to process this information. The skills he acquires will also help build a strong foundation for reading, writing and participating in activities that require hand-eye coordination.

Memory Card Games

Memory card games can help sharpen your child’s perceptual abilities with images of colorful shapes, pictures or patterns. This game requires your child to remember and locate the correct matching items as you turn the cards over then place face-down again. Pick up a memory game from the store or make your own. Stickers and plain note cards are all you need to create your own memory card set.

Sorting Games

You can offer your child sorting games to help develop his visual recognition and discrimination skills. Offer him a bin of colorful plastic animals and shapes and have him sort them into piles according to size, shape, object or color. He can also place the objects in a row from smallest to biggest or in alternating patterns to help him strengthen his sequencing and pattern-following skills.


Playing I-Spy with your toddler not only acts as a car ride game or waiting room time filler, it also helps him search for certain items while learning how to ignore the other, irrelevant visual information. Simply take turns saying “I-Spy with my little eye…” and fill in the rest with a phrase like “something red and fuzzy.” Your toddler then has to look around the room and try to find the object your described. Hidden picture games also work along the same lines as I-Spy.


Toddler-friendly puzzles help your child develop his hand-eye coordination, dexterity, problem-solving skills and shape discrimination skills. He will also learn about spatial relationships and use logical thinking to complete the task. Large cardboard puzzles with four to nine pieces should be sufficient for this age group. These can be square- or rectangle-shaped puzzles, or ones that are pieced together in a row, like a train puzzle.

About the Author

Susan Revermann is a professional writer with educational and professional experience in psychology, research and teaching. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington in psychology, focused on research, motivational behavior and statistics. Revermann also has a background in art, crafts, green living, outdoor activities and overall fitness, balance and well-being.

Photo Credits

  • Amos Morgan/Photodisc/Getty Images