Piaget´s Developmental Activities

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Piaget´s Developmental Activities

Piaget's Developmental ActivitiesBy: Abigail L. Carr, Katherine Dansie, Jenna Tucker

With Piaget’s first stage of development, sensorimotor, we see babies, ages two and under, come to discover the world around them using their senses. They become aware of the life and existence of objects and beings outside of themselves. However, their understanding is limited. They struggle to maintain focus on a specific item for any length of time as they are introduced and experiencing so many new things. During the early months, as organs like the eyes continue to develop and strengthen, children are able to discover what they see in front of them. They lack understanding of what happens to an object when it leaves their line of sight. This is why an activity like “peek-a-boo” is exciting to an infant. The person playing with them seems to appear and disappear out of nowhere. Another activity that establishes Piaget’s theory’s viability is showing a toddler an object, and then placing a cover over the object. The child will understand as it ages that if it were to remove the cover, the object would appear. This demonstrates what Piaget termed “object permanence” (Psychology Notes HQ, 2015). Another aspect of Piaget’s sensorimotor developmental stage is a child’s ability to create categories for objects and begin word association for these objects, and their categories. At about 18 months, a child could be shown a sample of play items and asked to identify which are animals. The child could then identify which are food items. Another category, such as shapes or musical instruments could be identified. The child would have ability to identify each item not only by its name, but also by its category.

As a child enters Piaget’s next stage of cognitive development known as the Pre-operational stage, often recognized between the ages of two and seven, they will display the use of imagination and developed creative skills. Not only will toy food be “made in a kitchen”, or toy animals “be fed and washed”, but a child will create animals and foods that do not exist. This can be seen in the rudimentary drawings of children this age, or observed when a child makes “mud cakes”. Given props and dress up clothing, children at this age will engage in pretend play without much prompting. Given building blocks, they will construct structures and identify them as familiar places. They build “houses” or “stores” or “schools”. This is known as symbolic play. Children also develop the ability to think abstractly at this stage and develop a more complex use of language. Full sentences are used, curiosity is displayed through a myriad of questions, and children explore social situations through verbal communication. Children of the preoperational stage can engage in play pretend activities but cannot recognize that their actions are only mimicking an actual event or occurrence. The pre-operational stage is also characterized by what Piaget termed egocentrism, or the inability to view the world from a perspective other than one’s own. Child at this stage, may play hide and seek but only cover their own face or leave parts of themselves exposed. They believe that if they cannot see the seeker, they cannot be seen by the seeker (ProFoley, 2011). One of the most famous display of a child’s limits of abstract thinking at this stage is water in a vase exercise. At this stage, a child can observe water being poured from one vase into an identical vase and will know that the amount of water has not changed. However, if water is poured into a tall, narrow vase from a short, wide vase the children will conclude that the taller vase has more water. Piaget described this knowledge as conservation and defined it as the ability to understand the idea that changing a substances appearance does not change its property or its quantity (Psychology Notes HQ, 2015). This is also seen given equal amounts of playdough in an identical shape. The child will not understand that the amount of playdough is the same after one mound is morphed into a new shape. The child does not understand that the morphed shape could be remolded to mimic the original shape. This lack of understanding is known as irreversibility.

As they move into the concrete operational stage, they are better able to make those abstract connections. This ability is recognized and developed usually between the ages of 7 and 11. Children begin to grasp the reversibility of events. They also understand cause and effect better. If a child is told that a vase is hit with a hammer, they can conclude that the vase will break because it is hard. If the child is asked what would happen if a vase was hit with a feather, they might reply that nothing would happen because a feather is soft. They will not be able to understand that the feather might be broken by the vase, as an adolescent in the formal operations stage might. (Profbofece’s Channel, 2009). Children can look at a representation of the body’s organs and understand that they are looking at objects that are representational of their own body. They can look at an image of a heart and point on their own body where their heart is located. They understand that the food given to a baby doll is not actually ingested by the doll. (ProFoley, 2011).



ConcreteOperational (October 23, 2015). Piaget’s Theory of Moral Development. Retrieved from

Formal Operational

In the formal operational stage, adolescents over the age of 11 begin to use logic and reasoning to understand their world. They are able to take abstract concepts and theorize about them. They begin to have discussions about time travel, hypothetical situations, and "what if" conversations. Adolescents in the formal operational stage use their knowledge and reasoning skills to justify or counter the concepts presented to them (Jeanmire, 2011). In the formal operational stage, asking hypothetical questions, like where would you put a third eye or what would you do without thumbs, allows those who have reached this stage to display their ability to think both logically and abstractly.


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