Stages of Development
Stages of Cognitive Development
 Children learn through their senses, exploration, &
trial & error
 Sensorimotor stage - Birth to age 2
 Preoperational stage – age 2 through age 6
 Concrete operational stage – age 7 through 11
 Formal operational stage – age 12 through adulthood
Sensorimotor Stage
Ages birth to 2
 Learning is limited through
senses, trying to make sense
of their world
- Eyes - Sight – looking
- Ears - Sound – Listening
- Nose - smell
- Mouth –Sucking – taste,
shape, feel of object
- Hands – grasping, touching
 Babies – hand to mouth
- They learn about objects and
things through their senses
and their mouth is the first
body part with which they
Preoperational Stage
Age 2 to 6
Pre concrete stage
K – 1st grade
 Language Development
 Symbolism i.e. a broom
becomes a horse, a stick
becomes a sword
 Playing, Pretending & Role
Playing (doctor, mommy)
 Liquid in a cup
 Money – which is more?
- Children will select nickel
over dime when asked which
is more, because the nickel is
larger in size
Concrete Operational Stage
Age 7 to 11
Elementary school age
Grade 2 through 5
 Children see things in
concrete ways
 They do not have abstract
thought, thus can’t
understand hypothesis and
things they cannot see; i.e.
inflation, sportsmanship
Hands-on learning is
 Implications for teaching
 Demonstrations & Pinpointing
are hugely important!
 Use concrete boundary markers
(cones to mark corners, use lines
to help children line up,
polyspots for personal space,
show me with your fingers how
many; point to your next station;
stand beside your partner, face
your partner, etc.)
- Line up shoulder to shoulder
(be direct & specific)
- Teachers must be specific!
Formal Operational Stage
 Age 12 to adulthood – 6th grade & up
 Some never reach this stage, thus important for
teachers to use concrete examples frequently
 Begins to think abstractly
 Can think hypothetically
 Can think inside one’s head
Formal Operational Stage
 Can think about things one can’t see or touch; such as:
- Sportsmanship, offense, defense
- Inflation, Social Justice, Capitalism, democracy
 This is when we see children at this stage of thinking
getting involved with solving problems (using
Styrofoam in cafeterias); volunteerism, etc.
Formal Operational Stage
 Can generalize i.e. to have good friends I must be a
good friend
 Can begin to use a general principle to solve a specific
problem - important for math and science; strategy in
game play, can imagine how an offensive play will
 Begins to think about outcomes & consequences – if I
do this – that will happen
Formal Operational Stage
 Can problem solve, likes to think about world issues
(poverty, gender roles, democracy) likes puzzles, word
problems, etc.
 Can begin to see gray areas – not just black & white
Deductive Reasoning
Strong logic
Weak Logic
 All men are mortal
 Socrates is a man
 All monkeys like bananas
 Therefore, Socrates is mortal
 I like bananas
 Therefore, I am a monkey
 All monkeys like bananas
 Fido is a monkey
 Therefore, Fido likes bananas
Inductive Reasoning
 There are 20 balls in an urn, either black or white. To
estimate their respective numbers you draw a sample
of 4 balls and find that 3 are black, one is white. A
good inductive generalization would be: there are 15
black and 5 white balls in the urn.

Piaget - Murray State University