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The gradual acquisition of complex ideas and concepts through the activities that children between the ages of 4 to 5 engage in are evident enough to indicate their mastery in intellectual development. According to Piaget, children at this age are rapidly developing their thinking and reasoning skills which are like that of adults. They need to have access to activities and materials that expand their intellectual potential. The paper describes a frozen berry playing tool to aid in the understanding of how materials can help children to think and reason. In this case example, their ability to count and match the cube to its appropriate slot is a sure proof that their thinking and reasoning is developed.
Cognitive development is an area of age-related changes consisting of processing, conceptual resources, perceptual skill, and language learning among other capabilities. According to cognitive scientist and psychologist Jean Piaget, children construct knowledge and ideas as they interact with materials and adults in their environment (Semmar & Al-Thani, 2015, pg. 1). Play materials are the most critical items that enhance the holistic development of children. The paper, focus on cognitive development of the children aged 4-5 years regarding how an ice cube tray influences the cognitive or mental development.
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Imagine an ice cube tray that needs to be filled with ice cubes scattered all around with berries in each ice cube. One ice cube will have one berry in it, one will have two, and one will have three and so on and so forth all the way to ten. The ice cube tray has numbers on the bottom of each slot varying from 1-10. What the child needs to do is pick up an ice cube, count or recognize how many berries are in that cube and put that cube in the matching slot. This toy could help children of any gender between the ages of 4-5 advance their cognitive development. Now, not all 4-5-year-olds will be able to perform all of that. So, it could be stepping stones. At the beginnings of age 4, the child should be able to understand the whole counting concept. The child should be able to acknowledge at least how many berries are in a cube while the caretaker could show them what number it matches with. The toy grows as the child gets older and their development grows. How? Well, the numbers on the bottom of the tray can be lifted up and put into another slot so that the child does not become dependent on the same slot being the same number. At the age of five, children can count to 10 or even higher. The toy helps children achieve that cognitive milestone of being able to count to 10 while also recognizing pairs.
The ice cube tray is just one example of a playing tool that enhances children’s cognitive development at the 4-5 years of age. For a child to learn naturally and develop their cognitive capabilities, they need such types of activities that provoke them to think and reason. It is pertinent for the teacher, caregiver, and the parents to be conversant or competent enough to know the cognitive demands of a child in this particular age bracket. The 4-5-year-olds are very exploratory. They explore the environment around them to discover new knowledge or concepts. That is why the background of the child at this age should be rich with materials and opportunities that open their mind. The child at this age is a little scientist, and the nature of a scientist is to discover new knowledge and ideas.
In the case of this ice cube tray, the ability of the child to think that the same slot can be changed and represent a different number is evidence enough that the child’s mental development is growing. In this context, a concept of reverse psychology is portrayed where the child can think backwards as explained by Piaget in his cognitive development theory. The majority of children below the age of five years are not able to think abstractly or even reverse their thoughts. But as they set foot in this age bracket, they start to relate complex ideas with ease. When the child can acknowledge the slot can represent a different number, it shows their ability to perceive things differently.
It is vital to note that whenever the child is playing or interacting with a playing tool like the ice cube tray, they are accomplishing some cognitive tasks. One of them is problem-solving, and in this case, the 4-5-year-old children can match and pair the correct frozen berries with the number slot on the tray. That is a problem solved, and it is motivating to the child to realize that they can accomplish the task. As the child reaches the age of five, the tool should be made more intricate to make them think harder by mixing the slots to represent varied numbers. The ability of the child to think, understand and imagine what might happen next is a way of developing their cognition. They are curious to find out how things work out and operate as it answers their inquisitive nature. At this age of 4-5 years, the play activities help them to concentrate, an ability they could not accomplish satisfactorily before the age of four years. A frozen berry playing tool enhances the child to stick and remain focused on the task at hand, which is matching the cubes on the write slots. At five years, they may not get bored as compared to age four. But, the caretaker should make the session entertaining by allowing the child to sing a relevant song as they engage in the activity. The child should be let free to learn by doing with minimal assistance from the supervisor. That helps them to be competent in thinking on their own and learn to be independent. The role of an adult is to organize the activity and demonstrate to the children on how to go about it.
A child at this age can think through multiple variables and also systemically (Wood, Smith, & Grossniklaus, 2001, pg. 5). They start to think and reason like adults and the adolescents. That is evident when they master the language and use it to communicate various concepts and ideas that they come across within their environment. Children at the age of four years and below are not logical thinkers as they cannot provide proper explanations of concepts and ideas that they come across. Their cognition is expressed in the things they create, and that is why playing and learning materials are mandatory for them. However, as they approach the age of five years, they learn to represent their ideas, not only through their creations, but also through language as a mode of expression. They have mastered the language perfectly, which signifies their level of mental development. Their thought processes become more refined at this age, even though, according to Vygotsky, the children need to be assisted to attain their maximum potential (Wood, Smith & Grossniklaus, 2001, pg. 2).
- Semmar, Y., & Al-Thani, T. (2015). Piagetian and Vygotskian Approaches to Cognitive Development in the Kindergarten Classroom. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology; Vol. 5, No.2.
- Wood, K. C., Smith, H., & Grossniklaus, D. (2001). Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology.