Lesson Plan for Cognitive Development in Infants

Lesson Plan – Growing Brains, Cognitive Development in Infants

75 minute class

Students read before class:

  1. Ch 4 Physical and Cognitive Development in Early Childhood from Berk, L. E. (2014). Development Through the Lifespan. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  2. Siegler, R. (2017). Cognitive development in childhood. In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology. Champaign, IL: DEF publishers. 

Reading 2 is available at the following Link http://nobaproject.com/modules/cognitive-development-in-childhood

Broad Objective: Students will understand and explain basic theoretical and empirical concepts in developmental psychology.

Learning Goals

  1.   Students will learn and critique methods used to study infant cognition and perception
  2.   Students will link the physical changes in the brain with the perceptual and cognitive abilities in infants
  3.  Students will be able to draw a graph of and explain the basic processes of habituation, dishabituation, and recovery.

1.Questions for the day (Show a picture of an infant in a room)

  •     What do infants know? How can we find out what they know?

2. Habituation Balloon Activity

  • Ask students to rate their sense of surprise on a scale of 1 to 10 to the events
    • Event 1 – one, two, three, pop a balloon
    • Event 2 – one, two, three, pop a balloon
    • Event 3 – one, two, three, pop a balloon
    • Event 4 – one….POP a balloon
  • Have 4 students calculate the averages and standard deviations for the 4 events
  • Discuss as a class what should be on the axis, draw the figure
    • X = trial number, Y = mean startle response
  • Have the 4 students plot the event points
  • Label habituation, dishabituation, and recovery on the Figure
    • The above activity is adapted from Kohn, A., & Kalat, J. W. (1992). Preparing for an important event: Demonstrating the modern view of classical conditioning. Teaching of Psychology, 19(2), 100-102.

  3.Video: Baby Synapse Connection (BBC) (4:42)

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J-JflThHks
  • Comment on video- videos doesn’t say but they did show the baby a series of the same face and then switched to a new face, assessed this by measuring looking time
  • Video related questions: Think-pair-share
    • What did the <6 month old babies perceive that >6month old babies could not?
    • Why do you think this ability is no longer present after 6 months?
    • How could this relate to race-bias in infants? Language?  

4.Dissecting Object-Permanence

  • Class Discussion
    • What is the definition of the sensorimotor stage?
    • According to Piaget what is happening in this video and why?
    • What physical movements and mental processes are required of the infant? – break it down step by step.  
      • As students answer write it on the board along a line to show order of events
      • Examples: look at object, attention to object, memory to remember its location, motor movement to reach for it, motivation, executive functioning (all from reading)
    • Can we assume the infant has the physical and cognitive abilities to complete all of these actions?

Homework due next class: Describe an infant’s (0-2 yrs) development in one of these 4 areas: perception, attention, memory, and motor ability. Then describe how this area of development might impact the infant’s ability to perform the object-permanence task. Post your answer on blackboard (200-400 words).

5.Application: Create an age appropriate activity/toy

  • With your partner brainstorm ideas for an activity or toys that would aid in an infant’s development.  This should be something that could be used in a daycare-type setting.  How would you explain to the daycare why they should use your activity/toys?  
  • Share ideas with class


3 thoughts on “Lesson Plan for Cognitive Development in Infants

  1. Sarah Frantz

    I really like this lesson plan and would use it in any course exploring child learning/development. I think the balloon popping activity will work well with undergraduates and collaboratively graphing the data collected will be a great way to get students more familiar with how to read data.

  2. Adrienne

    This is a very specific comment, but I like that you will have the student’s write along a line on the chalkboard, to show the order of events regarding the physical movements and mental processes. I’m a visual learner and I think putting the event on timeline will help cement the concepts. It inspired me to start to think of ways to appeal to the visual learner in my course.


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