Addison in the Preoperational Stage with Ice Cream

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I have a 2 and a half year old sister named Addison. She is very smart for her age because she has 5 older siblings, a mom, and dad who are always holding a conversation with her. Since Since she is two and half she is under the preoperational stage, which means the child has the ability to construct mental representations of experience- they are able to think beyond here and now, but egocentric and unable to perform mental transformations.

After watching the experiment of the water/cup experiment in lecture, I decided to do a conservation experiment with Addison, somewhat like that but using a small paper plate of ice cream and a regular bowl of ice cream. I measured out the amount of ice cream and put them on the plate and in the bowl. I asked Addison which one she watched and she said the bowl. I asked her why and she said, "Because it has more," and I replied are you sure. She still went for the bowl and kept saying she wanted the one with the most ice cream. Then I got another bowl (smaller size) and put the ice cream on the plate into the bowl. The ice cream filled up the bowl and Addison soon wanted that one, because she said more ice cream was in because it was over flowing; so she thought it there had to be more ice cream. After she took that bowl and was certain that had more I got another bowl (same size) and poured the ice cream in there and put the bowls side by side. She looked at both of them and wasn't sure what bowl had more ice cream. I then explained to her that all along there was the same amount of ice cream for her and me. She then grabbed one of the bowls and I asked her why she took it and she said, "Because I want the blue one."



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I think this is quite adorable, but also fascinating at the same time. Your little experiment with your sister really does demonstrate her ability to only think so far out of the box or as you mentioned, the preoperational stage. Younger children don't realize the difference of size and shapes and how you putting the same amount of ice cream in either the bowl or plate doesn't change the amount of ice cream. When told this though, I thought it was cute how Addison chose the blue bowl based on it's color, typical youngster!

I have a personal story that connects with this topic. When I was in daycare, each Friday my instructor would send each child home with a "Discovery Kit" for homework over the weekend. These "Discovery Kits" had little experiments in them that were meant to help teach us about the world. The only kit that I remember ever taking home was the exact same cup/water experiment that we learned about in lecture. It frustrated me to no end, but I learned quickly the concept that it tests in children. After that "Discovery Kit", I was able to tell from then on the size and volume of things. I learned that wider doesn't always mean more. So with this observation, I would like to again point out, that the stages of development are not always correct. I believe a child in the pre-operational stage can learn certain behaviors if taught in the right way and context.

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This page contains a single entry by Kelsie Allen published on March 25, 2012 10:40 PM.

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