North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

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

Subdomain: Mathematical Thinking and Expression

Goal: Children identify and use common shapes and concepts about position during play and other activities.

Skill Progression: Spatial understanding

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List of Skills by Age

1-2 Months

Follows moving object with eyes (within close distance), though not smoothly

2-4 Months

Reacts to disappearance of moving object by staring at place object disappeared

4-6 Months

Recognizes objects even when seen from different perspectives

Distinguishes near and far objects (reaches for near)

Finds partially hidden object

6-8 Months

Finds an hidden object if observes it being hidden

Examines things upside down

8-10 Months

Finds a hidden object, even if it was previously hidden elsewhere

Aware of vertical space, drops things

Aware of vertical space, fears heights

10-12 Months

Adjusts grasp and reach to size and distance

Puts things on and in/out

Unwraps and finds hidden toys under and in cloths, continues to search if not found the first try

12-15 Months

Makes a detour to get to an object

Shifts body weight to walk on sloped surface

15-18 Months

Uses spatial concepts up/down

Gets an object from another room

Turns a familiar picture or book right-side up

18-21 Months

Knows locations (there, here) and puts things where they belong

Stacks 4 small blocks (interest in building tall tower)

21-24 Months

Stacks 6 small blocks (interested in stacking many so they won’t fall)

Imitates drawing horizontal, vertical lines, and circular shapes in sand, etc.

24-27 Months

Lines blocks up to make

Identifies where the rooms are at home

27-30 Months

Begins building vertically and horizontally together with blocks

Knows words indicating spatial understanding (outdoors, upstairs)

Knows directional word (including up, down, out, in, over, under) with regard to movement

30-33 Months

Attempts to imitate building a bridge with blocks

Knows near/far and uses question, “Where is…”

33-36 Months

Finds objects based on the location of landmarks (e.g., your hat is on the kitchen chair)

36-42 Months

Builds with blocks in all directions with the intent of make a representation of something

42-48 Months

Learns a simple route from a map placed in direct relation to the child’s space

48-54 Months

Uses positional words (behind, in front of, beside) to describe the location of an object

54-60 Months

Creates a map using toy objects to recreate a space such as the classroom

 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