Sub-domain: Cognition and Cognitive Processes

The Cognition and Cognitive Processes sub-domain covers goals ten through sixteen of the Idaho Early Learning Guidelines. 

Using this guide

Scroll down to see the age group you are most interested in. Click on the goal to learn more about the goal's:

  • developmental growth
  • child indicators
  • caregiver strategies

There is an option to download the information at the end of each goal. When you click the link you will be brought to a new page where you can download the goal as a PDF.  

Child playing with Legos

0 - 8 Months

Goal 10: Children demonstrate awareness of cause and effect relationships.

Developmental Growth: Increasingly aware of self and primary caregivers.

Child Indicators: Looks for or orients toward a dropped object or sound. Uses sounds, gestures, and movements to impact the environment and interactions. Acts on an object to make a pleasing sight, sound, or motion (kicks or swats mobile, continues to bat object to repeat sound). Repeats actions many times to cause the desired effect. Sustains brief interactions, with caregiver support.When mobile, seeks caregiver for support.

Caregiver Strategies: Provide a safe and stimulating environment for baby to explore. Provide opportunities for baby to see objects and people move out of sight and return. Provide baby with consistent responses, environments, and routines. Play turn-taking games with baby (Peek-a-Boo). Provide opportunities for baby to experience cause and effect.

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Goal 11: Children find multiple solutions to questions, tasks, problems, and challenges, including trial and error.

Developmental Growth: Use of all senses to explore environment and relationships.

Child Indicators: Reaches for a toy or object that has rolled away.  Seeks assistance from caregiver using vocalizations, facial expressions, or gestures.   Experiments with different ways of sucking (bottle vs.  breast vs. thumb). Responds to caregiver’s voice when upset. Accepts or resists new tastes/textures.  

Caregiver Strategies: Respond to child’s signals for assistance. Provide different textures and touch to engage child. Provide consistency during routines (changing, feeding, and napping). Offer many opportunities for play around looking, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling.   

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Goal 12: Children expand abilities for conjecture, hypothesizing, and guessing.

Developmental Growth: Use all senses to explore environment and relationships.

Child Indicators: Displays curiosity using senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell). Looks for or orients toward sights and sounds. Uses fingers at first for self-soothing. Uses sounds, gestures, and movements to impact the environment and interactions. Uses repetitive actions to cause desired effect (kicks or swats mobile, continues to bat at object to repeat sound). Looks at or listens to novel objects.

Caregiver Strategies: Respond to child’s signals for assistance. Provide a variety of materials with sensory character to engage a child (a mobile, an infant gym, or rattles). Use routines to develop an individual rapport with each child to best read and respond to their individual cues. Both initiate play and follow the child’s lead when playing together.

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Goal 13: Children compare, contrast, and evaluate experiences, tasks, and events building on prior knowledge.

Developmental Growth: Interacts with and observes people and objects in their environment.

Child Indicators: Shakes stuffed animal or objects in same way as rattle to hear noise. Watches separate body parts, their movement, and experiments with control of their movements. Imitates actions, gestures, and sounds. Explores objects in many different ways. Sustains gaze or tracks object. Observes activities. Notices changes to familiar places and people.

Caregiver Strategies: Provide toys and objects of different textures that respond to the actions of the child (rattles, squeeze toys, cloth toys, and soft balls). Play games with child that support understanding of object permanence (Peek-a-Boo, Hide and Seek). Provide a stimulating environment for child to explore. Respond to child’s behavior in an interactive way. Demonstrate and explain the relationships between actions. Provide experiences and materials for child to experiment with cause and effect. Describe new toys and objects to examine, mouth, and move. Describe comparisons during playful interactions. Provide opportunities for baby to explore and examine the physical environment.

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Goal 14: Children participate in exploratory play.

Developmental Growth: Use sensory exploration.

Child Indicators: Gathers information through the senses (mouthing, grasping, reaching).Uses more than one sense at a time (uses sight, touch, taste, and hearing by examining and shaking a toy). Observes objects in the environment for a brief period of time. Initiates familiar play scheme (banging objects, grabbing spoon).

Caregiver Strategies: Engage in playful interactions allowing baby to explore your face. Understand sensory motor development and provide stimulating objects and activities. Provide toys and experiences that appeal to all senses. Engage in reciprocal play such a Peek-a-Boo, hand clapping, stretching, and moving songs and games.

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Goal 15: Children participate in pretend oar symbolic play.

Developmental Growth: Sustain brief interactions with caregiver support.

Child Indicators: Coordinates body and visual cues with caregiver. Responds with interest to Peek-a- Boo and hand clapping. Plays with sounds while exploring a toy.Smiles, coos, relax muscles in reciprocal play with caregiver.

Caregiver Strategies: Engage baby in playful interactions (smiles, face-making, stroking). Watch for child’s signals of looking to engage in interactions. During care giving tasks, bring baby close and talk softly (feeding, diapering, face washing). Provide baby opportunities to see objects and people when interested and alert. Sing songs, say rhymes, look out the window, and show picture books while baby is alert and interested.

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Goal 16: Children represent experiences and thought through symbolic representation such as movement, drawing, singing/vocalizing, and play.

Developmental Growth: Due to neurological immaturity, very young children are just developing sensory awareness that will later lead to intentional symbolic representation.

Child Indicators: Varies intonation in their voices. Looks for disappearing objects. Enjoys Peek-a-Boo. Pulls cloth off of face as part of a Peek-a-Boo game and giggle. Responds to variation in temperature or taste of food.

Caregiver Strategies: Play Peek-a-Boo and games that engage and respond to a child. Provide pictures and books, and talk about simple features (baby’s nose, the dog). Sing and move with baby. Give animal or other sounds when baby sees animals in a book, picture, or nature.

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6 - 18 Months

Goal 10: Children demonstrate awareness of cause and effect relationships.

Developmental Growth: Use goal-oriented exploration.  Actively explore self, others, and objects; recognize the effect of actions on the environment

Child Indicators: Uses variety of tools (containers,switches, doors). Manipulates object to experiment with cause and effect. Uses motor skills to experiment with cause and effect. Uses two- to three-step sequencing. Experiments with effects of own actions on objects and people. Looks to others for understanding and response (social referencing with caregivers). Begins to express an understanding of cause and effect.Understands “no,” but may not inhibit actions. Begins to understand that meaning and language are linked to actions. Does not understand impact of actions on others (biting, pushing).

Caregiver Strategies: Demonstrate and explain the relationships between things (e.g., “Your toy is on the floor.  You can’t reach it.”). Model opportunities for the child to experience the connection between action and language.  Understand that the child’s comprehension of combining action and language is not well-formed. Explain what is happening while interacting with child. Use consistent routines so child
learns to predict (after a nap, it’s snack time). Describe what is happening/seen when child looks to caregiver for information.

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Goal 11: Children find multiple solutions to questions, tasks, problems, and challenges, including trial and error.

Developmental Growth: Explore familiar people, objects, and settings to observe outcomes.  Use goal- oriented exploration.

Child Indicators: Uses active exploration and trial and error to figure out how things work. Uses objects as a means to an end (uses a bucket to transport blocks from one room to another, uses a spoon to reach for food). With improving concentration, spends a longer time exploring objects.

Caregiver Strategies: Provide opportunities for child to work out problems, with and without assistance. Demonstrate, explain, and engage child in trying things in different ways (stack blocks of different shapes and sizes trying different combinations; square blocks on the bottom, then round blocks on the bottom). Positively acknowledge when child tries new things. Provide age-appropriate toys that have many uses.

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Goal 12: Children expand abilities for conjecture, hypothesizing, and guessing.

Developmental Growth: Actively explore and act on familiar people, objects, and settings to achieve familiar and pleasant outcomes.

Child Indicators: Engages in goal-directed behavior and shows persistence in getting a desired object. Bases problem-solving in exploration and trial and error with objects. Begins to observe other’s actions in relationship to their own. Uses a variety of strategies to explore unfamiliar objects. May resist unfamiliar foods.

Caregiver Strategies: Use the child’s developing mobility to set up exploration activities. Recognize child’s attempts at autonomy and curiosity, and appropriately support those attempts. Be aware of safety and set up exploration in a safe environment where child can explore without adult interference. Provide toys and objects for stacking, banging, and building. Provide multi-sensory objects (soft, hard, rough, smooth, fuzzy, loud, soft). Offer unfamiliar foods accompanied by the opportunity to smell, touch, and taste.

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Goal 13: Children compare, contrast, and evaluate experiences, tasks, and events building on prior knowledge.

Developmental Growth: Explore familiar people, objects, and settings to experience new outcomes.

Child Indicators: Uses objects as intended. Understands how familiar objects are used in combination (spoon in bowl, socks on feet). Distinguishes sounds and combinations of sounds. Follows the edges of objects in a space (blanket, bed, or room). Recognizes and responds to people’s facial expressions. Tries out a variety of voice tones and way to vary sounds (babbling, squealing, yelling, shouting, pounding on a table, and ringing a bell). Stacks objects and knocks them over. Fill and dump buckets and containers of toys. Places objects around or carries them around.

Caregiver Strategies: Demonstrate, explain, and engage child in activities that show how different experiences relate to one another (e.g., “Your sweater goes on over your head just like your shirt goes on over your head.). Use photos and objects to talk about child’s past experiences (photos or toy animal after an outing to the park, or family pictures). Talk about what has happened during the day, as it happens. Provide opportunities for stacking, knocking down, and moving toys. Provide opportunities for music, song, and simple movements.

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Goal 14: Children participate in exploratory play.

Developmental Growth: Use sensory motor skills with some imitation; not goal directed.  Refine movement using large and small muscles.

Child Indicators: Uses all five senses to examine different objects with attention to detail. Enjoys movement and motor play. Observes and manipulates objects. Engages in self-talk while playing. Engages in reciprocal play with balls or throwing toys. Enjoys filling and dumping or pushing and pulling activities. Enjoys movement games with caretaker (Pat-a-Cake, Peek-a- Boo). Seeks objects child sees caregivers use (keys, phones). Lacks sequencing and abstraction until the end of this period.

Caregiver Strategies: Provide a safe environment for exploring and movement. Engage in games with passing and rolling balls, and soft toys. Explain what is occurring and what comes next during everyday routines. Provide an array of play objects that meet child’s current development. Play music, sing songs, and dance with child.

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Goal 15: Children participate in pretend oar symbolic play.

Developmental Growth: Use senses and mobility to explore functionally and evolve into using sensory motor objects symbolically.

Child Indicators: Uses objects functionally. Uses objects symbolically.  Use simple abstraction (a stick for a spoon, a tissue for a blanket). Makes animal sounds. Uses make-believe play (rocking or feeding a baby doll). Imitates the roles of adults and older children.

Caregiver Strategies: Tell child stories about daily events or something special that happened, with the child as the central character. Expose child to make-believe stories and songs from a variety of cultures. Demonstrate and engage child in making a variety of animal sounds. Recognize child’s cues to engage in play. Help coordinate and explain child’s often vague cues to initiate play to other children. Support social referencing with child to engage in play with adult or another child. Provide props and opportunities for imaginative play.

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Goal 16: Children represent experiences and thought through symbolic representation such as movement, drawing, singing/vocalizing, and play.

Developmental Growth: Engages in pre-symbolic play.

Child Indicators: Draws or scribbles and explains what the drawing is. Experiments with new uses for familiar objects. Provides a simple description of a person or object that is not present (child barks when asked what noise the dog makes).Shows object permanence (hiding and finding games, Peek- a-Boo). Reacts to mental images of objects or events (claps hands when told that a favorite person is coming to visit).

Caregiver Strategies: Engage is simple reciprocal games with sounds and gestures. Ask “can you find” or “show me” questions when looking at books. Play “where is your nose,” “where is your eye” games.  Can later ask in reference to own body and photographs. Watch for child’s cues and sounds for pretend child-initiating play. Provide painting and drawing materials and time for sensory exploration, with adult supervision.

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Curiosity and Interest indicate children’s sense of inquisitiveness, interest in pursuing new information, keenness for new knowledge, and desire to learn.

16 - 38 Months

Goal 10: Children demonstrate awareness of cause and effect relationships.

Developmental Growth: Generalize understanding of cause and effect to nepeople, objects, and settings expandinexploration.  

Child Indicators: Observes others’ actions to see the effect they have on objects and people. Experiments with the effect of own actions on objects and people. Learns to anticipate an adults response to an action. Understands “no,” but can control actions at times. Predominately uses Why?to ask questions even though the child may actually be asking Who?What?Where?” “How?or When?”   Likes push and pull toys, and toys with wheels that they can move.  Uses fill/dump, build up/knock down, and push/pull strategies.   

Caregiver Strategies: Offer expressions of surprise, delight, and concern in addition to words that describe reactions to cause and effect situations. Provide explicit explanations for cause and effect (e.g., when child touches something hot, you say, No touch -HOT!”). Play with and manipulate different materials so child can see changes. Provide opportunities for child to experiment with objects to see outcomes (turning lights on and off). Describe how objects change when acted on (batter turns to cake; water turns to ice). Provide push and pull toys, and outdoor experiences with movable toys (wagons, large boxes). Provide outdoor experiences with sand, water, and moveable toys.   

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Goal 11: Children find multiple solutions to questions, tasks, problems, and challenges, including trial and error.

Developmental Growth: Try new things with  familiar peopleobjects, and settings to see what the consequences will be.  

Child Indicators: Tries several methods to solve a problem before asking for assistance. Communicates to request assistance. Uses solutions that are often not reality based. Uses solutions that tend to reflect the child’s own personal experience and perspective. Becomes more persistent in trying to solve tasks on their ownMay become frustrated when outcomes are different than expected.  

Caregiver Strategies: Talk to the child or otherwise demonstrate possible solutions while problem-solving. Offer play that has many solutions (building with blocks, dressing a baby doll, putting items in a play grocery cart). Sequentially work through a problem with the child to find a solution. Provide activities and toys that have multiple uses (blocks, water play, outdoor digging).  Provide opportunities for child to work out problems, with and without assistance.   

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Goal 12: Children expand abilities for conjecture, hypothesizing, and guessing.

Developmental Growth: Initiates actionlengthens explorationand responds to familiar peopleobjects, and settings.  

Child Indicators: Experiments with effect of own actions on objects and people. Observes others’ actions to see the effect they have on objects and people. Needs adult help or explanation for problem (may use social referencing). Uses repetition in practicing behaviors and seeing consequences. Begins to see how one thing leads to another. Looks longer at surprising or irrational events than at a predictable event.  May want the surprise to occur again, or to trigger the novel experience.   

Caregiver Strategies: Describe cause and effect outcomes (e.g., “Look, you pulled the string and the toy came to you!). Provide opportunities for child to experiment with objects to see outcomes. Describe and anticipate the outcome of their actions. Enrich the environment in response to the child’s 
interest. Refrain from intervening if a child is practicing a skill until the child asks for help or shows frustration.   

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Goal 13: Children compare, contrast, and evaluate experiences, tasks, and events building on prior knowledge.

Developmental Growth: Begin to take some risks and actively explore new ways of doing things with familiar peopleobjects, and settings to achieve additional positive consequences. 

Child Indicators: Generalizes ideas based on past experiences (watches caregiver blows on hot food before  eating, then blows on food, hot or cold, at next meal). Connects objects and ideas (broom for sweeping, swimsuit for swimming). Labels that a person’s apparel is based on the weather outside (wearing a sweater means it is cold outside). Imitates behavior seen in another place and time. Notices and describes how items are the same or different. Uses actions or words to justify choices. Makes choices when given options (which toy to play with). Articulates changes noticed in familiar places and people. Identifies differences between own and others’ work.

Caregiver Strategies: Use child’s home language, experience, and culture to make connections to new experiences. Engage child in routine activities while explaining the whys (e.g., We vacuum the floor to clean up the dirt.”). Help child make generalizations (“If it is sunny here, it will probably be sunny at school.”). Acknowledge child when a past event is recalled and used as the basis for a choice. Demonstrate, explain, and engage child in comparing objects’ size, shape, and other characteristics. Demonstrate, explain, and engage child in discussing what he/she likes and does not like about experiences. Provide opportunities to talk about how one picture and block structure is alike, or for child to build following a field trip.  

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Goal 14: Children participate in exploratory play.

Developmental Growth: Use sensory motor play to extend the use of materials in functional ways.   

Child Indicators: Uses sorting and classifying. Observes and manipulates objects to identify similarities or differences. Uses simple tools (scoops, funnels, shovels, buckets). Explores and plays with sand, mud, and water. Enjoys hiding and finding games. Enjoys jumping, climbing, and chase games. Plays in front of a mirror. Stacks, builds, and knocks down blocks. Plays with malleable materials (play dough, clay, art materials). Starts playing with wagons, tricycles, and push toys. Initiates play with another child through gestures, offering toys, smiling, and eye contact. Constructs using blocks, building bricks, and other manipulative toys.   

Caregiver Strategies: Provide a safe environment for exploring and movementProvide opportunities, both indoors and outdoors, fophysical activities (climbing, jumping, dancing, and movement) both alone and with peers. Provide tactile materials for exploration (sand, water, play dough). Provide tools and opportunities for digging, pouring, stacking, and picking up. Rotate toys and provide enough to avoid some conflicts. Play music, sing songs, move, and dance with child.   

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Goal 15: Children participate in pretend or symbolic play.

Developmental Growth: Use objects symbolically and creates symbolic play. 

Child Indicators: Uses one object as a symbol for another (holds blocks to ear to represent a cell phone).Explores experiences by taking on family roles from within the family.  Uses simple, not elaborate, forms. Moves from mostly solitary play to some parallel play. Uses props in pretend play (dolls, animals, trucks, objects). May have an imaginary friend. Reacts to people in costume as if they are the characters they portray. Reacts to puppets as if they are real and not extensions of an adult or another child. May use play to address some fears. Initiates play with another child through gestures, offering a toy, smiling, and eye contact. Uses theme play (animals go to the barn; babies are fed and put to bed). Initiates favorite play themes with peer or adult. Starts giving emotions and language to dolls and other play characters.

Caregiver Strategies: Participate in child’s sense of imagination by engaging in make- believe play, with child leading. Dispel child’s fears that result from confusion over fantasy and reality. Discuss child’s dreams, ideas, and imagination with him/her. When a child has imaginary friends, acknowledge the friend.”Scaffold child’s inclusion of peers into dramatic play scenarios. Read fiction and nonfiction books. Share family and traditional oral stories with child and discuss how they are different. Provide ample time and creation of imaginative play themes. Provide props for creating play themes. Acknowledge a child’s play with props, which is for the sake of using the prop, rather than for creating a theme (repeatedly opens and closes a cash register rather than playing store).  

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Goal 16: Children represent experiences and thought through symbolic representation such as movement, drawing, singing/vocalizing, and play.

Developmental Growth: Begin to use symbolic expression in dramatic play and creative expression.  

Child Indicators: Offers brief explanations of drawings. Expresses emotion and experiences through movement, drawing, music, or singing. May use self-talk in play or painting/drawing. May tell stories about an experience or event. May scribble and call it writing. Makes animal noises and looks to caregiver for recognition.Identifies symbols or logos for familiar objects/place (McDonalds arches).   

Caregiver Strategies: Provide opportunities and materials for drawing, painting, and play dough activities in a small group; encourage talk. Play music and suggest movement (e.g., “Jump like a rabbit.”  “Fly like a bird.”  “Make a noise like a ). Use finger plays and songs with movement with child (recognize that children at this age usually do either movement or sing but are not particularly good at both simultaneously). Display child’s work. Offer free-play and gently structured activities to include writing utensils, art media, and rhythm instruments. Provide dress-up clothes and props for free-play. Take pictures and display child’s symbolic attempts.   

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36 - 60 Months

Goal 10: Children demonstrate awareness of cause and effect relationships.

Developmental Growth: Are aware of and interested in simple causal relationships. Uses magical thinking.

Child Indicators: Identifies objects that influence or affect other objects (food coloring makes the water blue). Asks “why” questions to show effort at understanding causation (if I do this, why does that happen?). Explains the effects that simple actions may have on objects (it will be dark when you turn off the light). Recognizes which element of an object causes the effect in simple relationships (the beads inside the box make the noise). Begins to use “What?” “Who?” “When?” and “Where?” questions.

Caregiver Strategies: Provide opportunities for child to play without adult guidance; discovering causal relationships. Engage child in activities that demonstrate cause and effect (cooking projects, planting seeds and watching them grow). Demonstrate, explain, and provide opportunities for child to explore cause and effect. Provide opportunities for child to engage in efforts to address the effects of local issues (pollution, littering). Help child make connections about cause (actions) and effect when resolving social conflicts. Understand that social complexity can exceed child’s capacity to problem solve.

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Goal 11: Children find multiple solutions to questions, tasks, problems, and challenges, including trial and error.

Developmental Growth: Are increasingly confident in interacting in a variety of social and physical settings as they try new things.  Use emerging perspective-taking experiments

Child Indicators: Explores various ways to solve a problem and select one option. Seeks assistance from another child or adult to solve problems. Modifies actions based on new information and experiences (change block structure when the tower continues to fall). Uses magical thinking to influence solutions to problems (child thinks inanimate objects have intentions). Uses emerging perspective taking to think of multiple situations for problem-solving. Solves an increasing number of problems within everyday activities.

Caregiver Strategies: Be available to assist child with challenges, questions, and tasks to solve. Demonstrate several alternatives to solving a problem. Guide child through the problem- solving process (e.g., “The wagon is struck.  What can we do?”). Apply the problem-solving process to social problems at the child’s level (e.g., “Enrique and you both want to paint at the easel. What needs to happen for you to share the easel and paint together?”).

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Goal 12: Children expand abilities for conjecture, hypothesizing, and guessing.

Developmental Growth: Testing ideas about how things work in a variety of social and physical settings.

Child Indicators: Asks questions to get more information about why something happens. Explains the effects that simple actions have and their outcomes. Recognizes which object or element of an object causes the effect in simple relationships. Answers “what next” questions. Uses self-talk when solving a difficult problem. Acquires the ability to hold more than one attribute in mind. Becomes aware that other people can have different ideas or thoughts from their own. Can categorize objects into groups. Begins to make, recognize, and extend patterns. Changes from magical thinking to understanding causation and planned actions.Uses “why” most often to ask questions as they hypothesize. Begins to “Who,” “What,” “Where,” and “When” to gain information to form hypothesis.

Caregiver Strategies: Use child-centered play, for the child to discover and practice cause and effect, where the adult direction is limited. Support cause and effect activities by asking extending questions (e.g., “What do you think will happen next?”),or offering another prop. Help child know when to use “wh” questions; “Why,” “Who,” “What,” “Where,” and “When”. Enrich the environment with enough open-ended materials and time for exploration (blocks, water table, outdoors sand, digging tools).

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Goal 13: Children compare, contrast, and evaluate experiences, tasks, and events building on prior knowledge.

Developmental Growth: Are eager to explore a wider variety of people, objects, and situations and can use past experience and observations in novel ways in unfamiliar situations.

Child Indicators: Applies new information or vocabulary to an activity. Uses information gained through one modality and applies it to a new context via another modality (tries to build a tower of blocks like the one seen in a book, draws pictures after a field trip). Generates a strategy based on one learning event and extends it to a new learning opportunity learns that mixing red and yellow paint makes orange, later tries coloring yellow crayon over red crayon). Shows an understanding of same and different. Recognizes and labels aspects of an event. Sorts objects based on attributes (shape, size, and color). Compares experiences, with or without prompting.Explains simple benefits and/or drawbacks of choosing one course of action, with/without prompting.

Caregiver Strategies: Engage the child in activities and interactions that make connections by recalling past learning and events (engage child in “remember when...” games and discussions). Demonstrate, explain, and engage child in activities that recall past events and relate what he/she learned from it. Engage child in generalizing by asking open-ended questions (e.g., “Where else would this work?”  “What if...?”). Provide opportunities to sort objects for fun or as a chore. Play games where the child identifies similarities and differences in the environment. Engage in role-playing activities. Read or tell stories and talk about the characters’ similarities and differences. Use open-ended questions.

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Goal 14: Children participate in exploratory play.

Developmental Growth: Explore materials and actions.

Child Indicators: Uses sorting, classifying, seriation, and patterning. Climbs, swings, jumps, dances, and hops to test skills. Aims, throws, catches, and kicks balls to explore projectile management. Uses tools, hammers, saws, shovels, and levers to explore the physical properties of moving masses. Plays with wheeled toys (tricycles, scooters, wagons) to explore velocity.Uses art materials to make functional objects. Constructs with building bricks and manipulative toys to explore spatial relationships.Uses senses to explore physical environment (sand and water, sweet and sour, loud and soft, identify smells).

Caregiver Strategies: Provide manipulative toys for sorting, classifying, and arranging in groups and sequences, by attribute. Understand functional play and its relationship to math and science foundations. Provide time for outdoor activities and play with digging tools, buckets, wheel toys, and balls.

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Goal 15: Children participate in pretend or symbolic play.

Developmental Growth: Use elaborate plots, shared scripts, and multiple sequences and roles, with a mixture of reality and fantasy.

Child Indicators: Explores experience by taking on familiar roles in the home and community (firefighters, restaurant, doctor’s office). Takes on pretend roles and situations.  Uses appropriate language, tone, and movements (pretends to be a baby, crawling on the floor and making baby sounds). Engages in complex make- believe play (theme-oriented play that involves multiple characters and settings). Makes connections between characters in books, stories, or movies, with people in real-life. Questions if characters in books, family, and traditional oral stories and movies are real or not. Believes objects, events, and characters can be “magic” or have “powers.” Understands that conflict can arise from “misunderstanding each other. Can return to favorite play themes with friends. Uses dramatic play to recreate a real situation with self-involvement. Plays out social and emotional issues (power, loss, fears). Uses block and dramatic play areas for imaginative settings and extended play. Extends and consolidates understanding through play.

Caregiver Strategies: Engage the child in activities and interactions that develop fantasy characters while helping them differentiate between make- believe and reality. Help child distinguish between cartoons, puppets, characters in books and movies, and real people. Provide environment and time for dramatic play. Scaffold entrance into dramatic play for child who needs support to join play. Clarify scripts and roles as part of conflict resolution. Provide opportunities for pretend play outdoors with materials such as sand, water, buckets and pans, fabric for tents, play scripts, balls, and opportunities to invent games.

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Goal 16: Children represent experiences and thought through symbolic representation such as movement, drawing, singing/vocalizing, and play.

Developmental Growth: Use symbolic expression in arts, communication, and quantity.

Child Indicators: Provides a complex description of a person or object that is not present (child describes the dog is black, soft, and runs around; child gestures to show how big). Uses symbols or pictures as a representation of oral language. Uses objects to represent real items in make-believe play. Recognizes objects, places, and ideas by symbols (recognize which is the men’s room and which is the women’s room by looking at the stick figure symbols). Uses creative means to express emotions when vocabulary is inadequate. May use shapes and letters to “write messages.”

Caregiver Strategies: Provide opportunities for child to engage in symbolic play (act happy, imitate a sad puppy). Provide opportunities for child to draw pictures of people, feelings, family, animals, and objects. Tell stories without pictures and encourage child to visualize, imagine, and express what he/she feels. Identify and point out symbols during daily activities; demonstrating and explaining what they mean. Encourage child to draw a story, with caregiver as “scribe,” writing dictated words.  Dictates the story and makes the illustrations. Read stories and provide props for dramatizing the plot (Three Billy Goats Gruff and make a block bridge).

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Creativity and Invention indicate children’s ability to extend existing knowledge.

60 Months - Kindergarten

Goal 10: Children demonstrate awareness of cause and effect relationships.

Developmental Growth: Building on past experiences, express curiosity about cause and effect with people and objects and experiment to elaborate their understanding.

Child Indicators: Structure experiments to see how changes in one factor influence changes in the others (plant seeds and put one in sunlight and one in a dark room), with assistance. Attempt to explain how things might change given a change in circumstances (when it’s cloudy, it might rain). Explain reasons why simple events occurred (e.g., “Carlos isn’t here today because he got sick yesterday.”). Propose experiments to see what will happen.

Caregiver Strategies: Provide opportunities for child to engage in case-effect activities (freeze water with objects in it; observe how long it takes to melt). Provide child with a variety of materials to create cause and effect experiments (explore together the steps required to cook a meal). Pose “what if?” questions to child. Understand that social complexity can exceed child’s capacity to problem solve. Demonstrate, explain, and engage child in taking steps to cause and outcome (explore together the steps required to cook a meal).

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Goal 11: Children find multiple solutions to questions, tasks, problems, and challenges, including trial and error.

Developmental Growth: Cooperate in groups and experiment with new situations and environments.  Bring past experience to bear when approaching problems and challenges.

Child Indicators: Works in a group to find a solution; building on the group’s problem-solving strategies. Predicts when something might be a problem or challenge (puzzle may be hard to do). Identifies some strategies to solve a problem or begin a complex task. Explains part, or all, of the problem when asking for help. Tries several strategies to solve a problem.  Child might want help from peer or adult. Solves increasingly complex problems and an increased number of problems.

Caregiver Strategies: Pose solvable problems to child and provide opportunities for child to find solutions. Present the pros and cons of different solutions; encouraging child to help identify the best solution. Provide opportunities for child to work with other children and adults to find solutions to the problems. Offer vocabulary to help child ask questions and pose solutions.

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Goal 12: Children expand abilities for conjecture, hypothesizing, and guessing.

Developmental Growth: Cooperate with others and systematically test ideas about how things work.  Draw on past experience and increasing awareness of others.

Child Indicators: Structures experiments to see how changes in one factor can influence changes in others. Explains how one change can lead to another. Explains how simple events occur. Sets up and pursues purposeful experimentation; trying out different solutions. Makes predications about what will happen next. Builds an awareness of other peoples’ points of view and feelings. Can hold more than one attribute in mind at once (teacher can also be a parent). Moves from magical thinking to reasons for events. Understands difference between live, not alive, and dead. Understands problem-solving process includes classifying and reframing within co-constructed meaning. Uses analogical thinking to allow transfer of problem-solving strategies to new situations.

Caregiver Strategies: Engage child in experimentation; ask predicting questions. Provide child with a variety of materials to create experiments. Demonstrate, explain, and engage child in taking steps to cause an outcome. Recognize importance of children’s effectiveness in teaching one another.

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Goal 13: Children compare, contrast, and evaluate experiences, tasks, and events building on prior knowledge.

Developmental Growth: Sometimes thinks about problems and situations from the perspective of others and from different physical viewpoints.

Child Indicators: Restates understanding of a situation or problem in own words. Explains that a person stays the same, although appearance is changed through masks, costumes, or makeup. Understands that words are made up of letters. Recognizes the defining characteristics of shapes (squares, rectangles, circles, ovals, triangles).Organizes objects by more than one common characteristic. Uses comparative words. Compares the main characters or events of stories. Describes experiences using comparative language. Considers peers’ perspectives when making decisions. Explains how he/she makes decisions.

Caregiver Strategies: Engage the child in activities and interactions that use known strategies in new situations. Demonstrate, explain, and engage child in activities that explore questions and guide him/her toward appropriate solutions. Invite child to expand on what he/she meant by a certain response (e.g., “Tell me more about why you said that.”). Engage child in discussing what he/she thinks another child meant by a given response (e.g., “Why do you think Josie did that?”). Evaluate pros and cons of a decision. Evaluate a problem, task, or activity and its possible solutions.

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Goal 14: Children participate in exploratory play.

Developmental Growth: Work with persistence and confidence.

Child Indicators: Creates elaborate block construction. Uses rules and boundaries in representational building. Experiments with balance, ramps, pulleys, and other tools when block building, constructing, or manipulating objects. Takes apart/deconstructs to gain an understanding (gears, old sewing machine). Works to replicate a building, object, or event through drawing/painting or block building. Climbs, slides, runs, kicks, and jumps to explore movement. Makes up games to test skills. Reinterprets the rules for a game or sport to fit skill levels.

Caregiver Strategies: Enrich and structure environment (block area with extensive shapes and number of blocks; provide block props and raw materials). Ask clarifying questions to extend play or overcome frustration. Help groups of children negotiate rules and fairness. Provide outdoor play environments for active games, observation, and exploration.

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Goal 15: Children participate in pretend or symbolic play.

Developmental Growth: Use elaborate fantasy play and can distinguish fantasy from reality. Negotiate scripts and characters.

Child Indicators: Explains if a story is real or make-believe, when prompted. Understands and expresses when fantasy is influencing actions (e.g., “I was just pretending to do that.”). Recognizes some characters, places, and objects in books, movies, and television shows. Engages in games with rules.  Can spend more time negotiating rules and scripts than in actual play. Uses representational block play to create and recreate experiences. Uses block building for both real and pretend scenarios and describes the difference. Expresses own ideas through dramatic play. May have favorite and recurring play themes. Can transform written stories into dramatizations.

Caregiver Strategies: Enrich and structure environment (block area with extensive shapes and number of blocks; provide block props and raw materials). Ask clarifying questions to extend play or overcome frustration. Help groups of children negotiate rules and fairness. Provide outdoor play environments for active games, observation, and exploration. Provide a variety of open-ended props for children to choose as they develop play themes (large blocks, clothing, writing utensils, art and music tools, wheel toys, signs, platforms).

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Goal 16: Children represent experiences and thought through symbolic representation such as movement, drawing, singing/vocalizing, and play.

Developmental Growth: Use symbolic representation for numbers, letters, and words; and for expression in creative arts.

Child Indicators: Combines drawing and art expression with words. Uses art, music, and movement to express self and feelings that are beyond verbal expression. Responds to books and pictures that express emotions and social roles with empathy or association. Represents simple objects through drawings, movement, mime, and three-dimensional constructs. Uses physical objects to demonstrate vocabulary (create two piles of blocks to demonstrate “more” and “less”). Independently chooses new and different materials to represent original thoughts, ideas, and feelings.

Caregiver Strategies: Engage child in creating symbols to represent familiar objects (e.g., “What would a symbol for your bed look like?”). Provide opportunities for child to participate in culture specific representational activities (storytelling, oral history, dance, songs). Offer opportunities for using and showing how words help us function in daily life.

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Grades 1 - 3

Goal 10: Children demonstrate awareness of cause and effect relationships.

Developmental Growth: Are more confident in their notion about causal relationships, which become more reality based and elaborated through social conventions and logic.

Child Indicators: Uses rule-based testing of social situations (telling on peers, “That’s not fair!”  Wanting rules for security and safety.). Becomes critical to scientific thinking and underlies conjecture, hypothesizing, and guessing.  Uses if/then hypotheses and explanations.

Caregiver Strategies: Use scaffolding, thinking by asking questions, or posing hypotheses. Clarify problem so that child can solve (e.g., “What happens next?”). Provide opportunities for multistep experiments, both indoors and outside. Integrate causality with scientific thinking. Provide a variety of open-ended materials for experimentation. Help develop lists and steps for complex activities (cooking, event planning, and experiments).

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Goal 11: Children find multiple solutions to questions, tasks, problems, and challenges, including trial and error.

Developmental Growth: Use a variety of problem- solving strategies to interact with people and objects across settings and under a variety of circumstances.

Child Indicators: Increases ability to identify problems independently and to generate multiple solutions. Uses and develops more strategies. Works with and negotiates with peers independently. Uses more reality-based problem solving. Enjoys figuring out manageable problems. Enjoys ”fixing things” and feelings of competence.

Caregiver Strategies: Acknowledge child’s approaches to problem solving and reinforce strategic and positive approaches. Be available.  Intervene in the process only when a child asks for help, shows undue frustration, or nears the point of giving up. Provide opportunities for child to work with other children and adults to find solutions to the problems. Make resources available, including books and technology.

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Goal 12: Children expand abilities for conjecture, hypothesizing, and guessing.

Developmental Growth: Become autonomous and confident to realistically identify problems and find solutions.

Child Indicators: Transfers and generalizes some kinds of problem-solving patterns and schemas to new situations and predicts outcomes. Has clearer understanding of other peoples’ actions and emotions, as separate from own. Can predict intent of other child’s actions. Uses problem-solving process, which includes classifying and reframing within co-constructed meaning. Uses problem-solving, which includes planning and mental representations of tasks, and is able to focus on the most relevant information. Develops the capacity for purposeful experimentations and plans for a range of solutions. Can delay gratification to find a solution.

Caregiver Strategies: Ask child to explain what they were thinking in relationships to activities, problems, experiments, and situations. Arrange opportunities for children to work in small groups or teams. Engage children in “if/then” scenarios that are both fanciful and realistic (e.g., “If cows could fly, then...,” or “If a car has a flat tire, then…”.

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Goal 13: Children compare, contrast, and evaluate experiences, tasks, and events building on prior knowledge.

Developmental Growth: Use some systematic thinking to reason about social and natural phenomena.

Child Indicators: Combines, separates, orders, and transforms information and objects. Understands that such physical aspects of objects (size, quantity, and number) remain the same even when some aspects of their appearance change. Can consider more elements of a problem at the same time (can think about alternatives when solving problems). Can mentally retrace their steps, if they want to. Can play games with rules. Has increased ability to consider both behavior and psychological states and better interpret other people's intentions. Succeeds in solving problems and cooperatively playing in peer groups. Can think about past, present, and future states of objects and people. Organizes collections according to multiple criteria (sorting baseball cards according to league, team, and position).

Caregiver Strategies: Provide child many and varied activities and objects to stimulate their new abilities in problem-solving. Allow child to arrive at their own conclusions through experimentation. Let child work in groups to generate multiple ideas and solutions. Share stories about a variety of people and cultures. Share stories with moral dilemmas and encourage child to generate multiple solutions. Ask child to relate their own experiences to stories and events. Listen to child's explanations of things and ask questions to explore alternate solutions. Provide learning games.Introduce history and compare to the present and future. Provide opportunities to collect and classify objects.

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Goal 14: Children participate in exploratory play.

Developmental Growth: Develop sense of self-competence or self-confidence that colors relationships to projects, games, and work.

Child Indicators: Develops plans and models that can be built. Enjoys physical activities and organizing games with rules. Plays team sports. Makes inventions. Enjoys building projects, often with peers. Can work in a group or on team projects. Tests self with practice and training; will practice a specific skill.

Caregiver Strategies: Ask questions to further exploration and experimentation. Limit electronic games so physical and exploratory play occurs. Provide time and space for indoor and outdoor exploration. Support rule and fairness negotiations. Support child who finds access to group play difficult.

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Goal 15: Children participate in pretend or symbolic play.

Developmental Growth: Use elaborate fantasy play and can usually distinguish fantasy from reality.

Child Indicators: Engages in games with formalized rules; sometimes based on shared current culture characters or movies. Can formalize plots and actions into presentations as plays or puppet shows. Understands clear distinctions between what is real and what is fantasy, although might argue with peer about degree or possibility.

Caregiver Strategies: Help child articulate and develop rules for games/play. Encourage peer groups to develop shared plans for creating play and developing presentations. Offer opportunities for discussions about fantasy and reality in stories, movies, and daily topics. Use “what if” question to guide discussions. Help child distinguish fantasy and reality in media, especially around commercials and advertising.

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Goal 16: Children represent experiences and thought through symbolic representation such as movement, drawing, singing/vocalizing, and play.

Developmental Growth: Prefer to use more individualized symbolic expression.

Child Indicators: Can recognize self or own feelings as being similar to a character in a book, movie, or play. May have an artistic or active body means of expressing emotion and thoughts.Can take a different physical perspective when drawing or map drawing.  Child can draw both a floor plan “bird’s eye view,” and an elevation or frontal view and know they both represent the same object. Uses humor with the realization that words have multiple meanings.

Caregiver Strategies: Provide stories that have more than one meaning and talk about multiple meanings with child. Provide folk tales and cultural stories for dramatic presentations or artistic representation. Provide opportunities for perspective taking when drawing, building, and creating, including some models. Use map making and symbol drawing sequences (story pictures) as means of extending child’s thinking and perspective taking. Engage child in using words for expressing humor.

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