TECA 1354 Observation of a Pre-Operational Child;
This learning opportunity is designed to measure the following standards identified by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) for students:
• Candidate understands the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment (Standard 3a)
• Candidate knows about and uses observation, documentation, and other appropriate assessment tools and approaches (Standard 3b)
• Candidate understands the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment (Standard 3c)
In addition, the following supportive skill is measured:
• Written communication is accurately utilized (Supportive Skill 3)
The purpose of this learning opportunity is to observe first hand how children think in the Pre-operational Stage, according to theorist Jean Piaget. In summary, you will be looking at how children use their perceptions (the way things appear) to make decisions in a semi-logical manner. Be aware that some children will be completely “pre-operational” and others will indicate that they can think logically in some of the tasks.
1. Select one child ages 4-6 years.
2. Administer the 5 tasks on the next page. Either write down the child’s responses or audiotape or videotape the interview. Tell the child that you are doing so because “I want to remember what you told me after you leave.”
3. When writing up your results, do not re-tell how you did the task, but focus instead on what the child’s responses were (use quotes if appropriate). Make inferences about the child’s thinking in your written discussion.
4. End your summary with a descriptive, but unbiased evaluation of the child’s level of development. (Is the child completely in the Pre-operational Stage, or does he or she show some sign of being in transition to the stage of Concrete Operations? What makes you think so?) Incorporate information discussed in your text or in class in this section.
5. Your report should be about 3 pages, typed, double –spaced (font 12 or 14).
6. If you use a term from Piaget’s theory, be sure to define it the first time used. Your report should be understandable to a person outside the field of child development.
7. Be sure to proof-read your work or to have someone else help you proofread if you overlook your own mistakes. Please use the online tutoring resource “SmarThinking” or the Writing Assistance Labs on any campus to polish your report.
Piaget’s Conservation Tasks
1. Conservation of Length
Take two unused pencils of the same length (or use two popsicle sticks). The child may touch or examine the objects to verify they are the same length
Next, move one pencil so that the ends are no longer lined up. As the child if the pencils are still the same length. Ask the child why he or she thinks the pencils are different lengths or the same length. (Either, “Why do you think the pencils are still the same length” or “Which pencil do you think is longer? Why?”)
2. Conservation of Area
Cut two pieces of green construction paper into equal squares about 9” by 9”.
Obtain 10 inch cubes or unifix cubes of the same color and one drawing or figure of a cow. On one piece of green paper, place 5 cubes in a tight bunch. On the other piece, arrange 5 cubes in a widely scattered manner.
Have the child verify that the green papers are the same size and that the cubes are also. Tell them that the cubes represent “barns” on the “fields”.
Now ask the child if the cow has the same amount of “grass” to eat on both sides of the fields. Ask the child to explain why the grass is the same or why one of the fields has more grass for the cow to eat
3. Conservation of Volume
Get 2 glasses of the same shape and size and one glass that is shaped taller and thinner. Pour an equal amount of water into the two glasses that are identical. Ask the child if these glasses contain the same amount of water.
Next, have the child pour the contents of one of the glasses into the taller glass. Ask the child if the glasses still contain the same amount of water. Ask the Child why he or she thinks so.
4. Conservation of Number
a) Gather 10 red poker chips or unifix cubes and 10 blue chips or unifix cubes. Lay out only 8 of the red objects in a horizontal line and hand the 10 blue objects to the child. Ask the child, “Will you put out as many blue chips as I have red chips?” See if the child puts out only 8 chips.
b) Form 2 lines of 8 chips, arranging the red and blue chips in one-to-one correspondence. Ask the child, “Do I have the same number of blue chips as I do red chips?”
c) Rearrange the lower row so that it extends beyond the top row. Ask the child, “Now do I still have the same number of chips in each row? Why or why not?”
5. Conservation of Mass
Form two balls of play dough the same size and color. Ask the child to verify that each ball contains the same amount of dough. Tear one ball into small pieces. Ask the child, “Does each ball still have the same amount in it? Why or why not?
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