K-2 Tips: Cognitive Development

"It's surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time"
Barbara Kingsolver   

        Welcome to K-2 Cognitive Development. In this particular part of the Wiki we will be focusing on Children and their MEMORY and how teachers can be apart of affectively enhancing their development in that area of their brains! So jump in and get excited because the children in school today will be the strong brains of tomorrow's future! 

What is Cognitive Development?

Cognitive development is the process of growth and change in intellectual and mental abilities . For example, thinking, reasoning, and understanding. At this young age, infants look towards friends, parents, and teachers as a supporting role in cognitive development. Also, Infants draw on social emotional, language, motor and perceptual experiences and abilities for cognitive development. 

*The following chart and information was taken from http://www.helpguide.org/life/improving_memory.htm*

 To sum up the whole meaning of memory in one word is " remember". The ability to store, encode, retain, and recalling information comes from our Memory. Memory gives us the ability to learn and adapt from previous experiences, it affects and influences our current behaviors and allows us to build relationships with others (white,2010).

Stages of Memory Foundation and Maintenance

Acquisition ?

Consolidation ?


New information enters your brain along pathways between neurons in the appropriate area of the brain. The key to encoding information into your memory is concentration; unless you focus on information intently, it goes “in one ear and out the other.” This is why teachers are always nagging students to pay attention!

If you’ve concentrated well enough to encode new information in your brain, the hippocampus sends a signal to store the information as long-term memory. This happens more easily if it’s related to something you already know, or if it stimulates an emotional response.

When you need to recall information, your brain has to activate the same pattern of nerve cells it used to store it. The more frequently you need the information, the easier it is to retrieve it along healthy nerve cell connections.



Proposed Age Range: Birth to age 2

General Description

Schemes are based largely on behaviors and perceptions. Especially in the early part of the stage, children cannot think about things that are not immediately in front of them, and so they focus on what they are doing and seeing at the moment.

Examples of Acquisitions

Trial-and-error experimentation: Exploration and manipulation of objects to determine their properties
Goal-directed behavior: Intentional behavior to bring about a desired result
Object permanence: Realization that objects continue to exist even when removed from view
Symbolic thought: Representation of physical objects and events as mental entities (symbols)
Proposed Age Range

Age 2 through age 6 or 7

General Description

Thanks in part to their rapidly developing symbolic thinking abilities, children can now think and talk about things beyond their immediate experience. However, they do not yet reason in logical, adult like ways.

Examples of Acquisitions

Language: Rapid expansion of vocabulary and grammatical structures
Extensive pretend play: Enactment of true-to-life or fanciful scenarios with plots and assigned roles (e.g., mommy, doctor, Superman)
Intuitive thought: Some logical thinking based on "hunches" and "intuition" rather than on conscious awareness of logical principles (especially after age 4)
Concrete Operations
Proposed Age Range

Age 6 or 7 through age 11 or 12

General Description

Adultlike logic appears but is limited to reasoning about concrete, real-life situations.

Examples of Acquisitions

Distinction between one's own and others' perspectives: Recognition that one's own thoughts and feelings may be different from those of others and do not necessarily reflect reality
Class inclusion: Ability to classify objects as belonging to two or more categories simultaneously
Conservation: Realization that amount stays the same if nothing is added or taken away, regardless of alterations in shape or arrangement
Formal Operations
Proposed Age Range

Age 11 or 12 through adulthood

General Description

Logical reasoning processes are applied to abstract ideas as well as concrete objects and situations. Many capabilities essential for advanced reasoning in science and mathematics appear.

Examples of Acquisitions

Reasoning about abstract, hypothetical, and contrary-to-fact ideas: Ability to draw logical deductions about situations that have no basis in physical reality
Separation and control of variables: Ability to test hypotheses by manipulating one variable while holding other variables constant
Proportional reasoning: Conceptual understanding of fractions, percentages, decimals, and ratios
Idealism: Ability to envision alternatives to current social and political practices (sometimes with little regard for what is realistically possible in a given time frame)

Brain exercises

    Memory, like muscular strength, is a “use it or lose it” proposition. The more you work out your brain, the better you’ll be able to process and remember information.

    Novelty and sensory stimulation are the foundation of brain exercise. If you break your routine in a challenging way, you’re using brain pathways you weren’t using before. This can involve something as simple as brushing your teeth with your nondominant hand, which activates little-used connections on the nondominant side of your brain.


  • These are clues of any kind that help us remember something, usually by causing us to associate the information we want to remember with a visual image, a sentence, or a word.
  • The English alphabet itself is a mnemonic device. It helps young children to learn and remember the symbols that represent the sounds of American English. At the site http://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/PRFbooklet.pdf , the National Institute for Literacy presents a publication designed to assist teachers and parents to understand and convey the key skills associated with reading success. This information will be helpful to parents and educators alike as it explains the importance of and methods of teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension.


  • Long-term memory is the ability to remember events, facts we have learned by accessing information stored in our brains. In school, that’s remembering what you were taught.
  • Working memory is the ability to hold a number of ideas in your head at the same time and use them for short periods — like hanging on to a phone number you just heard, as you scramble to find the pen and paper you saw a few minutes ago.
  • We are all born with the capacity for memory and some ability to remember, but using memory is a learned skill.
    Teaching your children how to enhance memory skills is an art! And that is OUR JOB! 

Here Are Some Hands-On Activities Teachers Should Try With Their Students!


I Packed My Suitcase 

The players have to picture and remember an increasing list of items. One child starts by saying, “I packed my suitcase and in it I put a toothbrush (or anything else).” The next player repeats that phrase and adds another item “a toothbrush and some underpants (tee hee!).” Go back and forth adding more items depending on your child’s age and ability.


What’s Missing?

 Place some small toys under a towel or a blanket. Let your child see what’s there, then have her cover her eyes. Remove one toy, replace the towel, let her lift it up and try to figure out what’s missing. Variation: Show your child the toys, put the towel over them and see how many she can remember.


 Scavenger Hunt

 Give your child a short verbal list of easily found objects or toys and send him off to hunt for them. See how many he can keep in his head while he goes to look. Start small and build up.



 A venerable card game where you place matched pairs of cards face down and players turn over two at a time looking for matches. Vary the number of pairs depending on the age of the player.
Links to Games and Activities that Help Students Enhance Their Memory!
Play with Kermit, Big Bird, and Oscar while enhancing your memory and having fun at the same time!

This website is FULL of fun, helpful memory and matching games to help young children develop their minds!

This website if perfect for teachers! It has printable worksheets and pictures that students observe and must use their memory to record what they saw after the teacher has taken the picture away from eyesight. This is to help students dig into their brains, find the details they remember, and record them thoroughly on their worksheets.
This is an awesome site with many brain booster games.
This one had alot of memory games and they are actually fun to play.. hehe


This memory puzzle game displays images for children to enjoy, have fun, and helpful at the same time.

Games That Are Fun For Kids and Can Be Used to Enhance Memory Development!
(Be sure to check them out!!)

Video clips that can be helpful tools for teachers

K-2 Cognitive Development Memory Game



Preoperational Thinking

Where Things Are





Jaffe-Gill, E., Kemp, G., Robinson, L. (2010). How to Improve Your Memory. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/life/improving_memory.htm




Today’s Parent. (2011). Improve Your Child’s Memory. Retrieved from http://www.todaysparent.com/schoolage/article.jsp?content=20060105_125225_5208&page=5

Anthony, M. (2014). Cognitive Development in 3-5 Year Olds. Retrieved September 22, 2014, from http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/stages-milestones/cognitive-development-3-5-year-olds


McDevitt, T., & Ormrod, J. (2010, October 25). Piaget's Four Stages of Cognitive Development. Retrieved September 22, 2014, from http://www.education.com/reference/article/piaget-four-stages-cognitive-development/


n.p., [nena120659].  (2011, February 6). Preoperational thinking. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FL44t96jyk


n.p., [lizzyconto]. (2011, February 22). Cognitive Development and Memory. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FL44t96jyk


Smith, M., & Robinson, L. (2014, January 1). How to Improve Your Memory. Retrieved September 22, 2014, from http://www.helpguide.org/life/improving_memory.htm

Mnemonics Exercise. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSiFlSuWOFo