Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development Activities

Instructor: Kristen Goode

Kristen has been an educator for 25+ years - as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university instructor. She holds a doctorate in Education Leadership.

Jean Piaget was a psychologist who specialized in child development. In the activities below, students will learn about and discuss Piaget's theory on the stages of cognitive development.

Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development

Understanding Piaget's theory and the different stages of cognitive development that he identified can be tricky. To make the information really stick, it is a good idea to involve students in activities that encourage them to apply what they have learned and come up with new ways of discussing the information. The following activities have been designed to provide a more active approach to learning about Piaget's stages of cognitive development.

Develop a Lesson or Activity

Materials: writing paper or computer access, materials that students choose to include as they create a lesson or activity

  • Put students into four groups (if the class is large, consider eight groups).
  • Assign each group one of Piaget's stages of cognitive development:
    • Sensorimotor
    • Preoperational
    • Concrete Operational
    • Formal Operations
  • Instruct each group to develop a lesson or activity that might be used with children within the age of the stage they have been assigned. The lesson or activity should be designed to help children further develop their skills within that stage.
  • Once complete, each group will present (or ''teach'') their lesson or activity to the class as if they were presenting to a group of children within the age they are working with (this would obviously be difficult with students in the Sensorimotor stage, but the idea can still be the same).

Compare and Contrast

Materials: drawing paper and markers or access to computer for creation of visual graphic

  • Put students into small groups of 2 - 3.
  • In their groups, have students create a visual graphic (such as a chart or a Venn diagram) that shows a comparison between Piaget's stages of cognitive development and the stages of another theorist in the same field. Students might consider comparing Piaget to:
    • Erikson's stages of psychosocial development
    • Vygotsky's sociocultural theory
    • Kohlberg's stages of moral development
    • Freud's psychosexual development theory (older students only)
    • Any other theory or theorist as approved by the teacher
  • Allow time for groups to work on their visual comparisons.
  • Encourage use of color, graphics, pictures, etc., to add visual interest.
  • Once complete, allow each group to share their work with the class.

Parent Meeting

Materials: access to PowerPoint, Google slides, or another form of electronic presentation

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