Motor Monday: Visual Figure-Ground [Feat. Ball Pool!]

Contributed Content by Lina Awshee, COTA/L, COVT

Happy Motor Monday!

It’s been a couple weeks since our in-home soft play was delivered by the very handsome boys of MESH and we have been itching to share some of the fun we have been having!

As a Pediatric Therapist, and more importantly as a mommy to my 19 month old, Tessa, I am always looking for fun ways to make our playtime purposeful and developmentally stimulating.  Needless to say, I’m so excited to be able to share some of our activities that we do with all of you and hope it can help drive some fun playtime with your family, as well!

Recently, Tessa has been very strong-willed and exercising her independence (rather aggressively!) so in an effort to help facilitate these emerging developmental milestones, I’ve been choosing activities that allow her some more “control.”

Today, we used the ball pit to work on a very important visual perceptual skill, visual figure-ground! Figure-ground begins to develop and refine between 12-24 months and is the ability for our little ones to distinguish or pick out an object from a busy background.  I love figure-ground activities for Tessa because it’s a skill that will help her develop more independence as she learns to be able to find things she’s looking for more efficiently.  (Her pink socks in a drawer full of socks, her favorite bunny cookies in a pantry full of Mommy’s junk, her dinosaur book in a shelf full of books, etc.)

The ball pit is her absolute favorite place to be, and soccer is her favorite sport, so I chose to combine the two by playing a game of “Where’s the Soccer Ball?”

Can you find the soccer ball hidden in the ball pit below?

Tess loved throwing herself in the pit in search of her beloved soccer ball!

And that face when she finally finds the ball was just priceless!

Activities can always be modified for the itty bitties by using a bigger ball with brighter colors like a beach ball, and plopping it on top of the balls so that they can explore the tactile and visual difference between the beach ball and ball pit balls!

For the “big kids” you can hide smaller objects, or similar colored objects to make it even trickier!

There are so many fun ways to explore figure ground, and to top it all off, you are helping to develop your child(ren)’s ability to be an efficient reader as well as writer by starting to work on the fundamental skills early!


Happy Playing!

Lina & Tessa

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