Activity:

Stretch Your Brain with Optical Illusions!

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What You Need:

  • Picture from a magazine or large picture from clip art
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Construction paper
  • Blank paper and pencil

What You Do:

  1. Invite your child to choose a picture from a magazine, or find a picture from a clip art program. Whichever you decide to use, try to find a picture that's more or less the size of a standard piece of paper (about 8 1/2" x 11").
  2. Fold a piece of blank paper in half "hotdog style" and use the marker to draw a line down the middle. Label one column "before" and the other "after." If your child has started writing, let him label the columns for practice.
  3. Encourage him to write or dictate to you all of his observations about the picture under the "before" column.
  4. Cut the picture into four equal strips.
  5. Help your child arrange the pieces of the picture in order on a piece of construction paper, leaving some space between each strip. Then glue them on.
  6. Look at the picture with your child, and record what he notices below the "after" column. Ask him questions like, "Is there anything different about the picture now?" and "How does it make your eyes feel to look at the stretched picture?" The "stretching" of the picture tricks your eyes and your brain will try to fill in the gaps to make the picture look normal. Your child might notice that the picture looks stretched, or even that it looks like it's wiggling when it's really not!
  7. Try extending this activity by cutting a picture into more than four strips, or cutting a picture into wavy strips!

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