Family Games

Optical Illusions for Kids

By: Highlights Editorial
 Motion optical illusion for kids
Ages 3+
Critical Thinking
Social Emotional

Optical illusions are fun and educational. Explore the fascinating world of optical illusions for kids, the benefits they offer, and some fun illusions you can try at home. Get ready to be amazed!

What are optical illusions?

Optical illusions are visual phenomena that can trick our brains into seeing something that isn't really there. They use clever manipulations of colors, patterns and shapes to confuse our perception and challenge our understanding of reality. These illusions can be great tools for teaching kids about the workings of our brain and our senses.

How optical illusions work

Our eyes are like detectives, gathering information from around us to send to our brain to untangle. However, our brain doesn't always get it right. Optical illusions are visual magicians, using the gaps in our perception to create interesting images.

Types of optical illusions

There are different types of optical illusions, each with unique characteristics.

  • Geometric illusions are shapeshifters, turning regular shapes into mind-bending puzzles. 
 Geometric optical illusion for kids
  • Ambiguous illusions show you pictures that can have multiple images in one (like the vase vs. face illusion). 
 Motion optical illusion for kids
  • Motion illusions are one of the most popular types, which makes things look like they’re in motion or movement. 
 Ambiguous optical illusion for kids

Why optical illusions are great for kids

Optical illusions aren't just fun to look at; they also offer many benefits for kids, including:

  • Enhancing visual perception skills, leading to better understanding of depth, size and spatial relationships.
  • Improving cognitive abilities like problem-solving and concentration.
  • Stimulating creativity and imagination, which helps your kids see things from a new perspective and explore new ideas.

Bringing optical illusions into playtime provides an entertaining visual experience and helps develop important cognitive and creative skills.

Fun optical illusions to try at home

The Highlights Book of Things to Do includes hundreds of fun activities, including these illusions kids can make at home!

You need:

  1. Blank paper
  2. Colored pencils or markers

Word art 

Word art illusion for kids

You’ve probably written a story before, but have you ever written a drawing? Using only words, see what images you can create.

Colorful squiggles

Squiggly line art illusion for kids
Colorful line art illusion for kids
  1. Draw a squiggly line on a piece of paper.
  2. Draw eight dots along the line.
  3. Fill the page with lines that jump from dot to dot.
  4. Color the design any way you want. You can also use the shading to create depth.

You can download the full excerpt of optical illusions from the Highlights Book of Things to Do here.

Looking for optical illusions your kids can create themselves? Find additional tricky challenges — plus games, puzzles, and more — with Highlights Book of Things To Do.

Author Photo
By: Highlights Editorial