Visual Discrimination {Pre-Reading Skills for Little Ones}

This summer, I've found myself reflecting on last year quite a bit. I've been thinking of things that I can improve on in the new school year {which is in 2 weeks for me - crazy!}, and as I thought about it, I realized that so many years, I get quite a few children with little to no visual discrimination skills! Because these children have had limited exposure to written language and don't get a lot of language experiences at home, I realized I need to beef up my pre-reading activities I use in my classroom.

Visual discrimination is an important piece in the puzzle of learning to read . Basically, it is a perceptual skill that refers to a person's ability to differentiate one object from another. When we read, our brain is constantly discriminating to figure out what a letter is, what a word is, etc. As I thought about my go-to beginning of the year concepts and activities, I knew I wanted to add some fun things to work on visual discrimination with my students. {Let me also mention that I've been using these at home with my 2 1/2 year old daughter and 5 year old niece, and they love them!}.
First, I love a sort of any kind! I made up some big letter cards and some that are just a bit smaller. At school, I'll let me students work with the cards of the letters we are working on in class, and most likely, they'll be working with a pocket chart. At home, I let the girls sort on the floor with the letters that start their names. I'll most likely do this with uppercase letters first, then lowercase. However, you could have students discriminate between the uppercase and lowercase variations of a letter.
The activity I'm most excited about is my letter mats. I made a simple mat {I didn't want it to be overly distracting} and letter cards that the students will match to the correct mat. There is a plain mat for each uppercase and lowercase letter, and there is also a mat with a beginning sound picture for each uppercase and lowercase letter, just as another reminder of the sound the letter makes. {Please note - there are no small picture cards for these mats. We're just working on letter discrimination} I'll be putting the cards in a sensory tub for the students to find and place on their mats.

For these mats, I put velcro on each square of the mat, and on the back of each small letter card. This was very helpful when my little one was "playing," since she could move around, and not knock the cards off.

As you can see, the mats were a big hit with my little one {she's 2 1/2, so I was interested to see if she cared about doing it, but she really enjoyed it and it was a perfect opportunity to talk about same and different}. When I was working with her, I didn't make a big deal about the letters going the correct way, since I was more focused on the letter going on the mat that it matched. :)
 Some other activities I will use are these letter detective printables. I'll most likely put them as a paper/pencil follow-up to the sorts or mats. For this activity, the students will color all of the boxes with the letters matching the large letter in the circle.
I'll also put these Not Like the Other printables in a center tub as a paper/pencil follow-up to the sorts or mats. In this activity, students will cross out the letter that is not like the others.
Last, to help practice finding which letter doesn't belong, I also made these cross out cards. I'll use these in small group and in literacy centers.

I truly hope these activities will help aide in my students' visual discrimination, which in turn, I hope will make them better readers! If you'd like any of the activities, you can grab them in my new pack. They're normally $5.75, but this week, they're on sale for $3.75!


  1. I love the product! But that model....GORGEOUS!!!!!!! :) This looks amazing Vickie! :)

  2. Great ideas! Easy instructions and practical applications!

  3. Great ideas! Easy instructions and practical applications!


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