Our sight is considered to be one of the most complex of the senses and also the most dominant. The eyes are heavily linked to the rest of our being, as they take in a vast amount of information for our brain to sort through and process.
Children are still learning about the world and will, from birth, make decisions based on what they see. A baby will react to a smile by smiling back and reach to touch things they see.
As we get older, we still rely on our eyes to take in our immediate environment, to read people, express ourselves, take in information and make decisions; all in a fraction of a second. In fact, research by neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) discovered the human brain can identify images in as little as 13 milliseconds. This is incredible when you start thinking about how many different images we are exposed to every single day.
How much do we still see?
As children, we are constantly discovering new things in our daily life – seeing a caterpillar, visiting the beach, tasting pineapple or smelling cut grass. As we get older, we have fewer new experiences and these things become part of everyday life. This is why, from a young age, we should encourage children to just stop and focus on a particular sense. I still love seeing a rainbow and it always makes me stop and wonder at the world we live in.
Opening children’s eyes
Although children may find it difficult to switch off their other senses, there are a number of activities that can focus them on what they see.
Sight sensory discovery bottles filled with coloured water and items such as sequins are an excellent resource for younger children to really focus on the movement and colours of the bottle contents.
Having a checklist of things to find such as something red, a bird, something round, a white car, etc. is a fun and exciting way to get older children engaged and focusing on what is in the environment around them. Add binoculars, a magnifying glass or a simple treasure map to the mix to really challenge them! My children have always loved the memory tray game too – a selection of items on a tray, memorise and then work out which one is missing.
Seeing things in a new light
Describing games are an excellent way of getting children to see more a familiar object in much more detail. To do this, take any object (e.g. a strawberry) and get the children to describe it without using its name – red, fruit, juicy, yummy but you may also get – spotty, green hat and small. Take this further by showing them how it grows, what an unripe fruit looks like and what it could make such as ice cream, milkshake and fruit smoothies. The children will see more than just a strawberry next time around!
By engaging children in the wider world, they have the opportunity to embellish their stories with detail and the depth of the life they get to see. Take the time to help children to discover a new way of looking at something today.
About the author
Lisa Lane launched Sensory Scenes in 2014 with the aim to provide themed bags of fun for play, exploring and learning. With three boys of her own, she is passionate about children being able to manipulate, explore and use their imagination. Sensory Scenes’ themed bags are perfect for individual play, sensory tray play and themed subject planning.