Classroom Activities for Superior Perceptual-Reasoning Students

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Students with superior perceptual-reasoning skills excel at seeing the whole picture, finding and creating patterns and problem solving. Provide perceptual-reasoning activities in the classroom to help students grow in their area of strength, but also to help them grow in all academic areas. Many school subjects are geared toward students with strong verbal or sequential skills, but the subjects can be adapted to suit perceptual-reasoning students.

A teenage girl building a molecule model in a classroom.
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Solving perceptual-reasoning puzzles that stimulate the spatial area of the brain, such as tangrams, may help students perform better at other math activities. A tangram is a puzzle that consists of seven shapes: five triangles, a square and a parallelogram. The shapes can be arranged as a large square or as visual puzzles. First, let the students play around with the shapes and see what they can make. This gives them an idea of how the shapes can be manipulated. Then give them the outline of a picture, and have them arrange the shapes to fit the picture. This activity helps students increase problem solving and reasoning skills.

A tangram puzzle in the form of a sailboat, laying on a wooden table.
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Spelling is often a strength for students with strong verbal and visual memory skills. Several activities can help perceptual-reasoning students improve their spelling. In one activity, students create word shapes to see spelling words as visual patterns. Write the words on graph paper, with each letter filling a square or two. For instance, “t” fills two squares while “a” fills one square. Then color each square that contains a part of a letter. In another activity, have students create a picture to illustrate each spelling word, and hide the letters of the word in the picture. These activities enable students to visualize the words as a whole picture, instead of as parts of a whole.

A female students writes on a notepad in a classroom.
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Instead of assigning essays to demonstrate comprehension of material, allow students to demonstrate subject knowledge by creating perceptual-reasoning projects, such as models. This allows them to show the depth of their understanding, as they don’t have to translate their comprehension into a written or oral format. For example, during a science unit, give them a list of cell parts to include, and have them create a 3-D model of a plant or animal cell. Or have them research an animal and create a habitat that includes a representation of what the animal needs for food and shelter. In social studies, they can demonstrate comprehension of a historical period by constructing a model of a city as it looked in the past.

A smiling student holding a double helix model in a crowded classroom.
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Although organization is a skill that is often taught sequentially, through creating lists, perceptual-reasoning students can also learn to effectively organize information. Mind mapping is a way of organizing information for writing that favors the whole-picture area of the brain. Students write the subject in the middle of the page and then draw a circle around it. Then they think of other ideas and write them around the edges of the paper. They draw circles around the ideas and connect that circle to the center circle. Once they have exhausted their ideas, they use markers to trace over the circles and group similar ideas by color. As they begin to write, they use the color groupings to formulate paragraphs.

A mind map diagram drawn on a chalkboard.
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