Applying the Cognitive Theory

Lesson example applying Piaget's Cognitive Theory

Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development

Cognitive development is learned through mental processes and sensory perceptions. Children learn through use of all five of the sensory modes--seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling. These sensory motor skills are important for this mental development. According to Piaget's Theory, "children learn as they interact with forces and things in their environment. Learning cannot be imposed from the outside. The children must interact with their world. Learning follows a definite sequence that cannot be hurried by any adult" (P.F. Hearron & Hildebrand, 2010).

Child Perception

As children begin to develop a different approach on how they perceive the world around them they begin to develop mature understandings. By first grade children can perform tasks by considering different sources of information, evaluation and bringing up their own interpretation.


Over the years, a child's cognitive development changes as they interact and perform more complex and sequential tasks. It is important to develop activities that engages students and allows them to have mental cues to refer to later on when learning new concepts.

You can apply the cognitive theory to many subject areas. 3-D modeling in science or biology is one.

3-D Modeling

3-D modeling is a great visual aid for cognitive development. This allows students to have visual or hands on content while processing information. When children are allowed to be involved with content with individual or group exploration develops the crucial stage of concrete operation.

The Human Body

The human body is a very complex lesson to learn and often students become lost learning from textbooks. Utilizing the cognitive theory and providing hands on activities with many visuals and exploration will not only make it fun but will be better processed into the student's memory.

Students can create their own projects based on the different structures of the body: the skeletal system, the digestive tract, vital organs, artery system, muscular system, etc. the students display stronger understandings when they are able to incorporate what they are doing into their learning. Let's work with the skeletal system and vital organs using a Squishy Human Body model.

Step 1: Get into groups of 3 to 4 students in the lab room.

Step 2: Pick the person who will be writing, the order in which person will take something out the body, who will put it on the organization chart.

Step 3: Exam each part of the body one at a time, the worksheet will tell you what part to do in order that way you will be able to put it back together.

Step 4: Fill out the worksheet as you go so that it can be turned into the teacher at the end of the class.

Step 5: Put the body back together, and then talk amongst your group aspect of the human body that you found interesting or how it may compare to other components in your every day life.

Students need frequent breaks to allow for processing of chunks of information. open discussion is a good way for students to reflect and shares thoughts and ideas of what they just learned.