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 demonstrate the ability to think about their own thinking: reasoning, taking perspectives, and making decisions

Skill Progression: Thinking and reasoning

Age: 36-42 Months

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Asks about how things work and why things are done in a specific way

Situations for Observation of Skill

Set out an activity that has intriguing results, such as blowing bubbles in a big pan of soapy water with different types of bubble makers; mixing colors of paint; putting a Mentos in a Coke; mixing vinegar and baking soda, etc.

Elicitation Strategy

Be a play partner and lead the activity so that the child will be inclined to ask questions. Have the child involved in each step. Let her experiment (safely) first before doing the “experiment.”

Behavior Observed

The child will ask how or why something is done.

Routines-based Intervention (Embedded Instruction)

Children commonly ask “why” at this age. When children ask “Why?” ad infinitum, it can be tiring. But parents can support their child’s growing curiosity by offering simple explanations. Help parents understand that asking why and how help children learn. Early childhood educators and parents can also avoid questions and help children develop logical thinking by talking about what is happening in the environment and why. Encourage simple rather than complex scientific explanations. “Cookies get hard when they bake because the heat cooks the ingredients.”

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

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