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Activities for Cognitive Development: Three to Four Years

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

The famous first three years are now over. Hopefully, you will see an alert preschooler with a solid foundation of cognitive skills. Research tells us that a child's being well developed by the time he or she is 3 will be predictive of being successful when he or she starts school. This is a year for building on the foundation and learning many skills that will lead to becoming ready for school. Your child will build on the concepts in the previous stage and be able to engage in more purposeful play. You will notice a whole new level of understanding. You will see an increased depth of experience. Because of this advancement, you will be able to take some of the basic play ideas from the 2-year-old stage and enrich them with rules and instructions for play with other children.

Matching II

About the Activity: Advancing from cards and pictures, you can take the matching idea all over the house. The focus now is on objects that are the same.

How to Play: Collect one of a set of objects that has a matched pair and ask your child to find the other one. Some examples are a sock, a shoe, a barrette, a candlestick, a pencil or pen, and more. A variation of this game is to match big items with their smaller versions. Suggested items are a pencil, a shoe, a shirt, a sock, a pillow, and more.

Stringing Beads

About the Activity: Beyond the ability to string beads or pasta, the activity is now about making jewelry. Your child can end up with a necklace and/or a bracelet to wear. These can be made out of store-bought beads, the home equivalent of plain pasta, or pasta dipped in food coloring. Other ideas for stringing are Cheerios, popcorn, and cranberries.

How to Play: Collect beads or pasta the right size for stringing or other materials if desired. Cut the strings larger than necessary to make necklaces and bracelets so that they will still fit after being knotted on one end and tied on the other. Rigatoni is the largest size pasta recommended for younger children who have beginning fine motor development. Patterns can be part of this activity, either with colors, shapes, or Sizes.

Playing Detective

About the Activity: This one is great for those times you are waiting. You can do this at home, in a restaurant, in a doctor's office, or at any place where you have unexpected time to pass.

How to Play: Choose a category like a color or a shape. Then take turns finding an example in the place in which you are. At first there may seem like there are only one or two examples in sight. However, once you get used to the play, both of you are likely to find more and more.

Numbers

About the Activity: This is a great time to begin focusing on introducing your child to the world of numbers. Beginning skills in counting, adding, subtracting, and dividing can become a part of everyday conversations.

How to Play: Look around your house for groups of items. You might find two candlesticks, seven pencils, three hats, or a dozen roses. Take time to count such items. A popular plaything is paper cups. Suggested is to take ten of these and then have fun as you count them, stack them, build with them, or even hide items under them. You might also find ways to add them, subtract them, and even divide these paper cups.

Sorting III

About the Activity: Advancing from household items, you can now take the sorting to the concept level. You will need catalogues or magazines for cutting out pictures. Cutting is an activity you can do together, also one in which you can give as much or as little help as needed. The focus of this activity is on finding the pictures.

How to Play: Choose category pairs like things that happen during the day and things that happen at night, food and drinks, men and women, boys and girls, indoor and outdoor, and more. Then begin finding pictures for a selected category pair. After you have at least about three to five in each category, sort the pictures.

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