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Supporting Cognitive Development

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The videos and resources below illustrate the important role that early childhood providers play in supporting children's cognitive development. By carefully preparing materials and the environment, thoughtfully planning learning experiences, providing scaffolding as needed, and taking advantage of teachable moments, adults can help children develop the skills to understand the world around them and eagerly approach learning opportunities. Some of the concepts covered in these videos include:

  • Encouraging problem-solving in the classroom
  • Making planful choices when arranging the classroom environment
  • The value and importance of play
  • Using active music and play experiences to support infant and toddler thinking


Children playing with water at a sensory table.

Providing Opportunities for Experimentation and Problem-Solving

In this "Reflection from the Field" video, preschool teacher Karen DelMastro describes how she purposefully plans experiences to provide children with opportunities to experiment and solve problems. Through supplying a variety of materials and intentional creation of "problems" for the children to solve, she offers rich experiences for her students.

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Critical Thinking in Toddlers

Supporting Critical Thinking in Toddlers

In this "Reflection," a teacher shares strategies for supporting the development of toddlers' critical thinking skills. She brings the children's attention to their thinking and prompts them to talk about their observations. Through conversation, she scaffolds their learning by lending support to their ideas and challenging them to expand their thinking. She also describes her thought processes for the children's benefit.

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430x290 Incorporating Math into Gross Motor Play

Incorporating Motor Play in the Preschool Curriculum

Part of the "Supporting Children's Physical and Outdoor Play" series, this video explains how active play promotes children's learning, and provides ways that adults can incorporate motor play in the classroom to increase engagement.

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Two children play with a toy at a table.


The Center's annual TIMPANI (Toys that Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination) Toy Study researches how young children in natural settings play with a variety of toys and identifies toys that best engage children in intellectual, creative, social, and verbal interactions in preschool classrooms.

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430x290 Importance of Play

The Importance of Play

Research shows that play has an essential role in children's learning. This video discusses the importance of play and advises early childhood professionals to look at several elements of children's play, including engagement in make-believe play, social interaction during play, and play complexity.

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Using Math Talk With Preschoolers

Using Math Talk with preschoolers to Support Learning

This video explains the importance of talking with children about numbers and encouraging them to explain their mathematical processes. When teachers and children engage in regular conversations about quantities, measurement, and size, children will gain mathematical and general cognitive skills.

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A mother assists her child in a seated position as he reaches for bells on the floor.

Supporting Thinking in Infants and Toddlers Through Active Music and Play Experiences

Research shows that movement supports children's cognitive development. Part of the "Supporting Children Through Physical and Outdoor Play" series, this video explores ways to use music and active play experiences to help infants and toddlers learn cause and effect.

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