Developmental Vision Enhancement Activities During the First Five Years of Life

By Carol E. Marusich, OD, MS, FCOVD

ONE TO SIX MONTHS

  • Gingham, repetitive patterns to encourage binocular visual experience
  • Light and face tracking – face “push ups” with eye contact, mirror rotations at 24″
  • Put a toy near hand while baby is looking at hand
  • Crumple paper or make noises to side & have baby turn toward it
  • Squeaky toy saccades
  • Lots of free tummy time
    • 30 min / day in 5-10 min intervals, encourage head and upper body control and strength
  • Change position frequently so view of the world changes
  • Hanging crib mobile
    • 6″ face ~12″ from head usually to either R or L side, out of reach
  • Secured kicking, hitting and pulling toys attached to crib
  • Bed trampoline with hand support to encourage balanced bouncing
  • Lots of sound toys
    • to touch, grasp and listen to, find both visually and auditorily
  • Unbreakable mirror to watch himself

SIX TO TWELVE MONTHS

  • Toys to grasp, roll, pick up, push, pull, bang, throw & squeeze
  • Drop games with food, toys, etc. as memory develops
  • Ball roll into lap “push up”
  • Open space and lots of time to creep and crawl
  • Safe step experience
  • Containers to drop or fit toys and other objects into and take out again
  • Sturdy books to turn pages
  • Read stories
  • Hide-and-Seek
  • Use simple words and sentences about clothing, food, toys and himself
  • Manipulative mechanical devices: pop-up toys, on/off switches, hinges, bathtub plugs, etc.
  • Don’t do things for him he can do for himself, such as handing him a toy he can get by crawling


ONE TO TWO YEARS

  • Don’t be in a hurry for walking – creeping & crawling encourages cross-lateral as well as upper-lower body coordination
  • Learn to walk backward & sideways
  • Climb, run, jump
  • Hang by their hands
  • Learn about their two sides & coordinate two sided (bilateral) activities
  • Provide 4-wheel cars or wagons he can sit on and move by himself
  • Allow jumping and bouncing onto soft cushions or from low chairs, a sturdy block, or the bottom step
  • Foster curiosity with toys designed for fitting shapes into proper spaces
  • Encourage supervised exploration
  • Encourage water and sand play with various containers, cups, pails, plastic bottles, doll dishes, etc.
  • Pick up small objects between index finger & thumb (pincer grip)
  • Build towers
  • Provide crayons and large sheets of paper for creative scribbling
  • Surprise busy box with things to put together and take apart
  • Take off own shoes & socks
  • Hold a cup with both hands
  • Turn pages of a book by 18 months
  • Fold paper, string beads
  • Cause & effect (light switch & water faucet)
  • Make believe play – human and animal dolls, telephone
  • Use names for actions and objects – simple terms, language is developing quickly
    • – 20 – 50 words, several 2-3 word phrases

Watch for:

  • Delayed motor development
  • Tip-toe walking, poor balance
  • Frequent eye rubbing, excessive blinking
  • Closes or covers one eye, winking
  • Lacks interest in picture books or familiar objects
  • Holds things very close to the eyes

TWO TO THREE YEARS

  • Runs without falling
  • Jumps both feet simultaneously, hops, rolls
  • Tumbling & climbing stairs (two feet)
  • Peddles & steers a tricycle, pushing with feet
  • Turns single pages in a book & loves to listen to stories
  • Feeds self with upright spoon
  • Uses crayons & drawing paper – dot to dot, sewing cards, chalkboard
  • Finger paints, clay models, puzzles
  • Builds towers of 4-7 cubes
  • Throws & catches larger balls / balloons
  • Beanbag toss, ball bounce with both hands
  • Pegboard patterns & big legos
  • Put together screw, hammer, pound, pull, pop, snap, etc.
  • Magnifying glass, magnets, flashlights
  • Can pull on some clothes – dress up & make believe
  • Learning to anticipate consequences
  • Can sequence instructions
  • Tap rhythmic patterns
  • Two to three word sentences; 50-200 words, pronouns & prepositions (up to 1000 words at age 3)
  • Begins to classify objects & colors
  • Make-believe games and conversation are fun – nursery rhymes
  • Plays best with one playmate at a time – playground time

Watch for:

  • Difficulties with depth perception
  • Eye-hand and coordination difficulties that are not age appropriate.
  • Confuses likenesses & differences
  • Lack of interest in outdoor activities
  • Fear of age appropriate activities

THREE TO FIVE YEARS

  • Build reciprocal integration of two sides of the body (Cross-pattern march)
  • Hops, skips
  • Kicks a ball
  • Bicycle with training wheels
  • Jungle gyms
  • Visual-motor planning movements
  • Uses preferred hand for skilled tasks (4yrs)
  • Grips pencil correctly by 5 yrs
  • Draws circle – cross – square by 4.5 yrs
  • Cuts with scissors
  • Visualizes mental pictures, hidden pictures
  • Can identify objects by color, size & position
  • Memory games
  • Pick out landmarks on the way home
  • Body language & facial expressions well understood
  • Understands time & space – yesterday, tomorrow, all the time, in a little while, etc.
  • Cause & effect: What will happen if…
  • Role play & be the other person
  • Visualize and describe a sequence of events
  • Create a story
  • Finger plays & songs, Hand puppets
  • Beads & string
  • Musical instruments
  • Ring toss
  • Dot to dot, mazes, tracing

Watch for:

  • Fear of heights, playground equipment or age appropriate activities
  • Delayed speech or persistent tumbling over words after age 3
  • Difficulty learning colors
  • Difficulty with age appropriate puzzles, matching pictures
  • Difficulty maintaining fixation & attention of a task