Plan a learning experience which supports the development of sustained shared thinking in children aged: 0-1 year 11 months, 2-2 years 11 months, 3-5 years

Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.9: Facilitate the cognitive development of children
Learning outcome: Be able to implement a learning experience which supports the development of sustained shared thinking in children
Assessment criteria: Plan a learning experience which supports the development of sustained shared thinking in children aged: 0-1 year 11 months, 2-2 years 11 months, 3-5 years


Planning learning experiences that support the development of sustained shared thinking in children of different age groups requires an understanding of their developmental stages and abilities. Sustained shared thinking involves two or more individuals working together in an intellectual way to solve a problem, clarify a concept, evaluate activities, or extend a narrative. Here’s how an Early Years practitioner might plan for each age group:

1. Ages 0-1 Year 11 Months

  • Focus: For infants, the focus is on sensory experiences and basic interactions that lay the groundwork for later shared thinking.
  • Activities:
  • Sensory Play: Engage in simple sensory play activities using different textures, colors, and sounds. This can include soft toys, textured fabric, or musical instruments.
  • Mirror Play: Use mirrors to encourage self-awareness and response to facial expressions.
  • Simple Cause and Effect: Introduce toys that respond to actions, like a bell that rings when shaken.
  • Reading and Singing: Even at this young age, reading simple stories and singing can encourage listening and attention.
  • Practitioner’s Role:
  • React and respond to the child’s vocalizations and movements, encouraging turn-taking and interaction.
  • Provide a running commentary on what the child is doing to encourage language development.

2. Ages 2-2 Years 11 Months

  • Focus: At this stage, children are beginning to develop their language skills and can engage in more interactive activities.
  • Activities:
  • Storytelling with Puppets: Use puppets to tell stories, encouraging children to predict what might happen next or suggest alternative endings.
  • Simple Construction Play: Building with blocks or other construction materials, encouraging children to explain their choices and think of what to build next.
  • Role-Play: Simple role-play activities, like pretending to cook or shop, can encourage dialogue and decision-making.
  • Practitioner’s Role:
  • Ask open-ended questions that encourage children to think and express their ideas.
  • Engage in the activities alongside the children, modeling thinking out loud and collaborative problem-solving.

3. Ages 3-5 Years

  • Focus: Children in this age group can engage in more complex activities and discussions.
  • Activities:
  • Group Projects: Activities like creating a large artwork together, where children need to discuss and decide on various aspects of the project.
  • Science Experiments: Simple experiments, like watching what happens when you mix colors or plant a seed, can stimulate questions and predictions.
  • Story Creation: Engage children in creating their own stories, either through drawing, using story cards, or verbally, and then discuss the different elements of the story.
  • Practitioner’s Role:
  • Facilitate group discussions, encouraging children to listen to each other’s ideas and build upon them.
  • Introduce challenges or problems within activities that require children to think critically and work together to find solutions.

General Principles

  • Responsive Interaction: Be responsive to children’s cues and interests, and adapt the activities accordingly.
  • Encourage Expression: Encourage children to verbalize their thoughts and feelings.
  • Reflective Listening: Practice reflective listening to validate children’s contributions and extend their thinking.
  • Create a Supportive Environment: Ensure the environment is conducive to focused and extended engagement.

In all these activities, the key is for the practitioner to be an active participant, guiding the children’s thinking, encouraging interaction, and extending the children’s learning and understanding through thoughtful questions and prompts.

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