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Science Kids on the Loose

Vision Investigation

Use your eyes to try to identify pictures at different distances.

Download this activity (pdf)


  • White paper, poster board or index cards, about 4 by 6 inches
  • Thick black marker


  1. Draw very simple pictures on the cards (such as a house, a dog, a tree, a smiley face, a shoe, maybe a letter or number). You can use outlines or silhouettes. Just be sure to use familiar, easily identified objects.
  2. Show children one of the pictures you’ve made, say the tree. Have them stand in a line across the playground. Walk about 10 feet away. Turn around. Ask if they can still see the tree. Then walk 5 or 10 feet farther. Can they still see the picture? Do they know it’s a tree? Keep going until kids start to say that it’s difficult to see.
  3. Choose another picture, without showing them this time. Walk to the far spot. Turn the picture around. Can they tell what it is? Have them make guesses. Walk back towards them, about 5 feet. Now can they tell what is on the picture? If not, walk a few feet closer.
  4. Repeat the procedure with other pictures.
  5. Use lots of descriptive vocabulary words, and encourage children to use them, to explain how things look far away and close. You might use words like blurry, fuzzy, and clear.

Take It Further

  • If you wear glasses for nearsightedness, consider taking them off when it's time to identify objects at a distance. Have another adult-or even one of the children-choose a picture and stand far away with it. Have them move closer until you can identify it. The person will probably be much closer to you than you were to the children. Point this out. Then explain to children that your eyes need the help of the glasses. With your glasses, you can see much farther. Then repeat the procedure to show how much better you see with your glasses.
  • Check with your pediatrician if you suspect your child is having vision problems. Even if everything seems normal, the American Academy of Ophthalmologists and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus recommend screening children's vision in the preschool years.

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Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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