North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Domain: NC Foundations for Early Learning: Cognitive Development (CD)

Subdomain: Construction of Knowledge: Thinking and Reasoning

Goal: Children use their senses to construct knowledge about the world around them

Skill Progression: Constructs knowledge

Age: 27-30 Months

Click here to go to all skills for ages 27-30 Months.

Investigates how to manipulate things by tearing, stretching, unwrapping, etc.

Situations for Observation of Skill

Introduce materials such as play dough, paper, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, etc. for children to manipulate.

Elicitation Strategy

Adults can observe the child’s experimentation with the material, then demonstrate a use, such as tearing into pieces, wrapping an object, pulling, rolling, etc.

Behavior Observed

The child will experiment and copy the adult’s actions with the materials. Once the child knows the potential actions on the materials, the child will repeat the actions and move into experimentation.

Routines-based Intervention (Embedded Instruction)

Help early childhood educators and parents understand the importance of letting children make a mess. When children learn to tear, stretch, snip, roll, and manipulate materials, they learn the potential options they can use in the future. Experimentation, repetition, and discovery are critical to learning.

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

©2015 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit