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June 18th, 2010
The Developing Child
Lesson Activities

Introductory Activity

  1. Explain that today’s lesson explores child development, the biological and psychological changes that occur in children as they grow.
  2. Display your timeline (birth to 5 years) in the room. (See “Before the Lesson” for details.)birthtimeline2
  3. Ask students to brainstorm different things that children do at different stages in their development. Write each item down on a separate strip of paper. For additional items, use the items on the “Child Development Milestones” handout.
  4. Hand students the strips of paper with the events that they brainstormed. Optional: Also hand students the items from the “Child Development Milestones” handout.
  5. Ask students to place the events on the timeline. Encourage students to discuss and debate where the events should go.
  6. Use the chart below for a general guideline of where events from the “Child Development Milestones” handout could be placed along the timeline. (This information is based on information from the CDC website.)
  7. Important Milestones Chart

  8. Discuss the developmental milestones listed on the timeline. During the discussion, explain that children develop at different rates and there is a wide range of what is considered to be “normal” development. Even though a milestone might be listed as happening by a certain age on the timeline, that event could occur earlier or later depending on the child and still be considered part of healthy development. Something that is worth pointing out to your students is, in general, children will be able to perform the tasks listed in the 3 month category before they can do the tasks in the 7 month category and will be able to perform the tasks in the 7 month category before they perform the tasks in the 1 year category. For example, a child will “begin to babble” before he/she is able to “babble chains of sounds,” which he/she will be probably do before saying “mama” or “dada.”
    • 3 months
    • 7 months
    • 1 year
    • 2 years
    • 3 years
    • 4 years
    • 5 years
    • A special skill or talent they have and how they acquired that skill or talent.
    • A core value or belief and how they acquired that belief.
    • The role that others (such as peers, parents, teachers, siblings, politicians, community leaders, etc.) play in helping them make decisions and form opinions.
  9. 8. Ask students to work in pairs and explore the “important milestones” information on the CDC website.  Either have students access the information directly on the Web or hand out printouts of the milestone fact sheets to students. (Hand out one fact sheet for each group of 2-3 students.) See the “Materials” section for details and to download the fact sheets. Assign students to the following 7 groups:

    Students can also refer to the this Development Timeline for more information.

    9. Ask students to explore the important milestones that occur in their assigned age group. Ask each group to summarize their findings and present the information to the group.

    10. After the groups have shared their findings, review the timeline with students and ask students to rearrange and/or add items to the timeline, based on the new information they have just learned. If there are still items from their brainstormed list that they are not sure where to place on the timeline, ask the students to conduct additional resource to find out the information.

    Learning Activity

    1. Ask students to hypothesize when most of the growth of a person’s brain happens- before birth or after birth?

    2. Let students know that they will be watching a video segment from the PBS program, The Human Spark, which explores how the human brain develops.

    3. Play The Developing Brain. After playing the segment, ask the students to discuss whether most brain growth occurs before or after birth (After birth.)

    4. Ask students to think about how they think the knowledge of human infants compares with that of other animals.

    5. Play Language Development. After playing the segment, ask students what Harvard Psychologist Elizabeth Spelke believes about how the abilities of human infants compare to that of other animals. (She believes they are very similar.) Ask students if they agree or disagree with her.

    6. Ask students to discuss what Dr. Spelke says is responsible for the development of uniquely human abilities. (Language. She believes that once children begin to learn and use language they begin to display uniquely human capacities.)

    7. Discuss the statement by Professor Helen Neville at the University of Oregon that children first learn nouns and then learn verbs. Ask students why that might be. (Possible answers: Nouns are things that children can see, touch and/or look at, while verbs are more abstract.)

    8. Ask students to discuss how they think children learn right from wrong. (Possible answers: From their friends, parents and other authority figures, from television, through punishment for doing something wrong and rewards for doing something good, etc.)

    9. Play Learning Right and Wrong. After showing the video, ask students to discuss what can influence a child’s perception of what is right and what is wrong. (Children can be influenced by their peers, parents and others.)

    10. Discuss how the boy in the segment reacts when he witnesses the polar bear doing something incorrectly. (He tries to stop him and tells him the “right” way to do it.)

    11. Ask students to discuss how the researcher influenced the girl about how to access the die. (For the first task, when the girl didn’t know how to remove the object, she waited for the researcher to show her and then used the method demonstrated by the researcher. For the second task, the girl was successfully able to remove the die using one method. However, when the researcher demonstrated another technique, the girl then copied that method on her next attempt to remove the die.)

    12. What are some questions that this segment makes you think about. (Possible questions: How easily are children influenced by those around them? Does their ability to be influenced by others change as they age? Do the people who have the most influence on them change over the years? For example, are they influenced more by adults when they are younger and more by peers when they age?)

    Culminating Activity

    1. Let students know that you want them to think about their skills and beliefs and how they acquired them. Ask students to think about and discuss the following:

    2. Ask students to think about the languages that they speak fluently. Ask them how they learned those languages.

    3. Ask students to think about something they learned to do in the past year (drive a car, cook a meal, etc.) and to describe how/ where they learned it. Ask students to write down their responses and then share their answers with the class.

    4. Use the responses from questions 1, 2 and 3 above as a springboard to discuss the different ways the students have learned things throughout their lives (in school, at home and in the community). During the discussion, talk about the different things (events, places, books/media, peers, parents, teachers, etc.) which have helped to shape their thoughts and actions.

    Proceed to Video Segments

Inside This Lesson

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