Mathematical Advancement in a Group of 2

by Lucy Rüttgers


How the choice of topic came about

Already in the letter project, Edith (now 5;4) mentioned that she really wanted to learn arithmetic next and had already started something with it at home with her mother. I promised her that we could do an arithmetic project after our letter project. She was thrilled.

In the meantime, I had also noticed Edith’s interest in music. So I talked to her again alone to clarify whether a music project would be more appropriate for her or whether we should do the arithmetic project first and then a music project? She was very sure that she definitely wanted to learn arithmetic first. She then wanted to do the music project afterwards.

The emergence of the group of two

Already in the letter project it was important for me to bring Edith and Lotte (5;10) closer together. On the one hand, they are two very different children, with different interests and caregivers, on the other hand, both are very high achievers and both lack a confidant at this level, a friend with whom they can exchange ideas. In addition, it has turned out that both of them will attend school and our after-school care centre together next summer. So it would probably do them both good to have an „ally“.

…in brief …

Edith (5;4) is a very studious child, also when it comes to dealing with numbers. Her kindergarten teacher works out mathematical knowledge with her and another girl in a flexible way.
This shows that both children are highly motivated.

And it becomes clear that even with two children who are both very advanced, individual differentiation still makes sense.

Most of the time, educators do not have the time for such intensive support processes, but the report makes it clear that a lot can be achieved in just a few hours, not only for the children’s knowledge and skills, but also for their personality development.

In the letter project, there were situations in which Lotte and Edith continued to work without the other children. I also noticed their similar reading levels. The cooperation in the letter project was not yet enough to build up a friendship. Before the our new project began, I said to Edith, to whom I had promised this project, „I would like Lotte to join in too. Do you agree? If so, we could ask Lotte if she wants to take part“. Edith agreed. The joint discussion with Lotte then revealed that she wanted to take part in the numeracy project.

Project description:

The mathematical area is very large and offers many possibilities. However, I only have 12 days until the report deadline for my IHVO Course due to the current staff holiday / illness situation in our kindergarten. Therefore, I can only cover a small area for now. However, I hope to be able to continue working on the project with the children beyond the deadline as long as they are interested. For the time being, I have to find out how far Edith and Lotte have come and what they are particularly interested in. I hope that this will result in good support for them.

As with the letter project, I have designed the so-called red thread. Here, too, the children themselves should design / decide the concrete course of the project – according to their interests and wishes. I can imagine this being very productive with these two children.

The contents of the project chosen by me in advance are:

Counting, naming / recognising numbers (reading), whereby the number range is determined by the children,
Writing numbers. Possibly learning to read and write word numbers through the children’s strength of being able to read. Assign numbers to corresponding quantities.

Types of arithmetic:
Plus, minus, possibly division and multiplication tasks.

Measuring objects, lengths, widths;
Units of measurement: Millimetres, centimetres and metres.
Measuring instruments: ruler, folding rule, tape measure.

Weight units: Gram and kilogram

Arithmetic devices:
Children’s calculator (with balls in 10s mode / abacus), arithmetic chain (self-created in 10s mode), calculator, cash register calculator that prints receipts.

Place value of numbers:
Classify units, tens and possibly hundreds.

The two project children themselves should decide on the exact course of the project, the contents and the duration of the project.

First offer

Objective: Make the selection for the first topic content.

Materials available: scales, metre measure, a game with numbers / quantities,
an apple divided into four parts, an apple divided into two parts, a knife.

We had a conversation about counting and numbers. Then we looked at the numbers game together. It consists of wooden cuboids in different sizes, each size corresponds to a certain amount. On each cuboid is the corresponding number in the form of the English word, for example „seven“ for the number 7. In addition, the number is represented on the cuboids by a corresponding number of lines.
The cuboids fit together in a wooden box, in a row always resulting in the number 10. Different combinations are possible.

The children worked out this system of the game and the statement of the individual cuboids.
Then we talked about the scales and the metre-measure, about their meaning and their possible uses, and the children tried them out.

Using the apples, we worked on the arithmetic operations: plus, minus and divide.

Finally, the children had to decide what they wanted to start the project with. The result was that they both agreed to measure with a metre-measure at the next meeting.

Duration: about 30 minutes. The kindergarten did not give me more time.

Observations during the offer:
Edith was disappointed about the early end, although I had announced it in advance.

Both children complemented each other in their knowledge. Edith immediately combined different plus and minus tasks with the apples. Lotte understood the division tasks faster than Edith.

Both children treated each other considerately and respectfully.

They both found the metre measure and its technique of unfolding and folding very exciting. They appeared very motivated for the next meeting.

Second offer:

Objective setting:
To get to know and use different measuring instruments, to get to know and use units of measurement.

Both were given a workbook in A4 format. They proudly labelled it with their name.

Part 1
Looking at the measuring instruments together and trying them out briefly.
They named the rows of numbers on the ruler. I know that both children can count very far – with a few gaps. Now I want to know if they can also read numbers in the 10 range in order to be able to use a measuring instrument at all. It turns out that they already can.
To deepen and extend their skills, they write the number sequences from 1-10 and from 10-20 in their notebooks, using a ruler that reaches 30 cm.

As asked to do so, they write 30, 40 and 50 under the 20. In this way, they can complete the number sequences outside of what we offer, and they have both done so.

Part 2
Using the ruler, they learn about the units of measurement millimetre and centimetre – as well as their spelling abbreviations MM and CM. I chose capital letters because they are more familiar to them.
In their notebooks they recorded the new information: 10 MM = 1 CM.

Part 3
Each of them measured small objects found in the room with the ruler.

Whoever wanted to, should write down the measurement results in the notebook. Edith did it.

Then the two of them measured large objects and distances together with the metre-measure or the tape measure, depending on their choice.

Duration up to this point: 1 hour and 15 minutes.

When Edith signs up for more activities, Lotte withdraws from the offering saying, „I can’t do it anymore“.

Observations during the offer:
Lotte tired of the theoretical part very quickly. But when it came to the practical part, she was very fit and motivated again. Edith was full of power all the time.

The teamwork of the two was very nice. Large distances that they could not measure alone, they measured together in agreement and with good arrangements. Alternately, one recorded the beginning of the measurement and the other read off the result. The wishes of the others were taken into account.

Continuation of the offer with Edith:
She wants to work with the children’s calculating machine.

Edith pushes the arithmetic balls together (in the 10s range) to form her own plus tasks, names them aloud and calculates them.

She does the same with minus tasks.

Duration of the follow-up offer: 20 minutes, total duration for Edith: 1 hour 35 minutes.

Observations during the supplementary offer:

She was still very concentrated and highly motivated and showed no signs of tiredness. At the beginning of the arithmetic exercises, she still counted each ball with her finger. After my suggestion to try it without counting, she first obviously counted with her eyes without using her fingers. Later, she also named smaller quantities without counting. My tip to use the colour gradation of the balls in steps of 5 and to continue counting only after 5 was partially implemented by her.

While she was working, she discovered the game „Rummikub“ (a number game) on the games shelf (recommended for ages 8 and up) and would have liked to have it explained to her right away. Unfortunately, this was no longer possible for organisational reasons. I promised her it for the next day.

Third offer:

Deepening of measuring and / or introduction of the game of Rummikub.  Extension by recording what has been measured.
Material per child: 1 ruler, pencil, scissors, glue, graph paper.

When I asked the children if they would like to measure objects first or if they would rather play the Rummikub game, they unanimously answered: „Measure!

Part 1
Review of the previous day. We look back at what we have written so far in the booklet. We look at the graph paper and trace the boxes using the ruler.

Part 2
Task: Measure smaller objects of one’s own choice found in the room with the ruler. Draw the object on graph paper using the measurement results. Write the length and width of the object on the corresponding sides.

They drew two objects like this with my help. Since the task seemed a bit too difficult, the next task was:

Part 3
Draw lines and write their length next to them. I made some initial length guidelines:
10 cm, 5 cm, 8 cm, 15 cm, then their own choice. They both approached the task with great motivation.

Part 4
Cut out the drawings and stick them in the notebook. They have to think about the best way to do it. Both want to cut out each drawing individually.

Duration: 1 hour with me present, and 30 minutes without me for kindergarten  organisational reasons.

Observations during the offer:

Both girls were highly motivated and full of joy. Lotte worked very quickly and independently. Edith was slower and more insecure. Her ruler slipped more often and she had difficulties putting the 0 at the beginning of the line correctly. However, she did not seem to be frustrated by this. She confidently decided to cut out her drawings one by one, using the wave and pinking shears, where it is more difficult not to cut something off by mistake.

Lotte asked Edith if it worked well with the wave scissors, but then decided to use the normal scissors.

One difficulty arose: Because the children chose the objects to be measured themselves, the measurements resulted in decimal numbers. I explained to them that counting the remaining small millimetre lines would result in a number after a decimal point. But then they needed help again and again.

Fourth offer:

Goal setting:
The previous day we had set for this day: the introduction of the Rummikub game.
(By the way, the game is very easy to make out of cardboard).

The game consists of number tiles from 1 to 13, each number row is available in 4 colours and twice. There are also 2 jokers. It is played similarly to the Rommee card game.

Part 1
Each person chooses a colour and lays out the number line from 1 to 13. To help them, they were both given a ruler on which they could trace the number line and also check that it was correct.

They then did the same again with a second colour to become more confident.

Part 2
They put the same numbers in different colours together.

Part 3
I explain the use of jokers and the rule: There must always be at least 3 tiles next to each other.

Part 4
Start of the game: Each player takes 14 tiles, sorts them by colour and puts them in a number sequence. The winner is the first to get rid of all the tiles.
The player whose turn it is can lay out 3 matching tiles, i.e. either three consecutive numbers in the same colour (for example: 7, 8, 9) or one and the same number in three colours (for example 5 in blue, red and yellow).
In addition, whoever’s turn it is can put on all the tiles that match the rows of numbers that have already been laid out.
During the game, I could see the number tiles of both children and give them impulses accordingly.

I was then able to add a few levels of difficulty:
1. you can steal a number from a group (for your own use),
2. you are allowed to move rows of numbers apart to create your own, already existing numbers,
3. you can use a joker.

Duration: approx. 1 hour

Observations during the offer:

Both were very concentrated. Lotte was very quick and confident with the numbers up to 13. She did not make any mistakes when putting the numbers together. Edith was confident up to 10, above which she had difficulties. Looking at the numbers on the ruler helped her to correct it. So did repeated counting. Her difficulty was in recognising the numbers above 10. She worked more slowly and very deliberately and concentrated.

My question whether I could still explain something difficult to them (see the 3 extensions listed above) made them both excited and proud and they listened very motivated. The difficulties that were still built in were better understood and implemented by Lotte than by Edith. Edith understood the connections but needed a little more time than Lotte.

Fifth offer:

Objective setting:
Deepening the game Rummikub to give the children the opportunity to play it independently later on. Deepening the handling of ruler and metre in order to gain more confidence with it.

There was a weekend between the last offer and this one.
Both children had decided on the content of the fourth offer. However, I had the feeling that Edith was not quite as keen to repeat the Rummikub game.

Now it looked like this: Edith wanted to measure objects, Lotte wanted to play Rummikub. Her mother also plays the game and at the weekend Lotte could join in, she said proudly.
Edith and Lotte agreed to do some measurements first and then play Rummikub.

Part 1
At first, both of them were very motivated to try to measure huge distances, but then they noticed their technical and physical limits.

As their independent action was important to me and we already had time limits again, they accepted my tip to opt for smaller objects. They then wanted to draw these on graph paper again.

The decimal points again posed a problem. In addition, both of them lacked a certain spatial imagination, as they had in the first drawings. They had difficulty drawing the rectangle that lay before them. The longitudinal line was the first step and not a problem. But transferring the width in the right place overwhelmed them. They both then switched to using the rectangle as a template and simply drawing around it.
So they found a solution to their problem themselves.

Part 2
Rummikub. They both wanted me to play along.

Lotte made sure that Edith did not see her number tiles. We played the game like last time. I gave both girls impulses and suggestions when they couldn’t come up with solutions on their own. Lotte won and then supported Edith in the game against me.

Duration: 1 hour

Observations during the offer:

Lotte had more „insight“, also because she had already played the game at home. She  saw more possibilities of placing tiles than Edith and she recognized them faster. Edith had already noticed her own difficulties during the first game and was therefore not so enthusiastic about playing it again. She has a high demand on herself and doesn’t seem to like it when others can do something better than her.

In the course of the game, however, she gained confidence. With the help of my suggestions, she made appropriate moves – and she put it away very well that Lotte won, with the prospect of still being able to beat me. We then had to end the game before the second winner was determined. The game demanded a lot of concentration from both of them.

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, they enjoyed it.

Sixth offer:

At the end of the last meeting, they both expressed the wish: to write arithmetic problems in the notebook.

To write and use the arithmetic signs + (plus) and = (equal), and possibly – (minus) correctly.
Solve small arithmetic problems.

Part 1
To get into the mood: Both count in turn. They both manage to count up to 39 without any mistakes. After that, little help is enough to make them count even more.

Part 2
With the help of the wooden cuboids, the children do the arithmetic problems, calculate or count the solutions and write the problems with the solutions in their notebooks:
1+1=2   2+2=4   3+3=6   4+4=8.

In addition to the wooden cuboid game, both children use their fingers to count. Lotte holds out her fingers, Edith counts.

This is where an important phone call comes in for me. They continue to work independently, laying and counting.
Lotte: 1 +2=3, Edith: 2+5=6, then improves it herself.

Part 3
Edith brought a book with number pictures to the kindergarten. (With a pencil, you have to connect the numbers from 1 up to the largest number und then you can see the whole picture.) They both want to do this. Each of them choose a picture, they both decide then on the same picture and I make them a slightly enlarged copy.

The series of numbers goes from 1 to 54 and results in a vampire picture. Lotte gets to 18 on her own and then asks for my help. Edith makes it to 28 on her own.
She complains of a sore throat and her nose is running. Nevertheless, they both want to play the Pharaoh game they discovered on the shelf. (The game is called „Der zerstreute Pharao“ 〈“The Absentminded Pharaoh“〉, it is recommended for the kids from 7 to 16 years.)

Part 4
The game goes like this: Small pyramids cover up motif cards and cards without motifs. Cards that you have to draw tell you the motif you have to find under the pyramids. By moving the pyramids, you have to find the motif you are looking for without uncovering other motifs. So you have to remember both the places where the motifs are and the places where there are no motifs. There are also variations, for example, you can turn the game around 180 degrees. Lotte and Edith already know the game.

They need help where the increases in difficulty begin, as these are difficult to read from the cards.

At the end of the game, Lotte has 14 cards and 22 points, Edith has 10 cards and 18 points.

At the end, I wanted to calculate the score together with them using the calculator (abacus) and suggested that they write this calculation in their notebooks. Lotte did this. Edith didn’t want to. It must have been the flu.

Duration: 2 hours

Observations during the offer:

It was noticeable that Lotte held out for so long. Both were very nice to each other again. Lotte was allowed to draw in Edith’s notebook. Both were fully concentrated and motivated. Writing down the arithmetic problems in the notebook was a lot of work for them. Some of the numbers were written reversed. They also had to learn how to place the arithmetic signs, which was more „new territory“ for Edith than for Lotte, who has a sister in the third year of school.
The number picture was a good relaxation afterwards. I could tell that Edith was coming down with a cold. She was not quite as concentrated as usual and made untypical careless mistakes. Nevertheless, she also wanted to play the Pharaoh game until the end. The two of them spent the rest of the morning alone in the popular gym room, almost forgetting to eat. Edith then spent the afternoon asleep in the kindergarten.

Seventh offer:

Goal setting:
Short repetition of plus tasks (deepening), introduction of minus tasks (whether with or without writing them down depends on the children’s wishes).

Introduction of easy division tasks. Independent creation of a number picture.

Part 1
Short review of the last joint activity, which took place 6 days ago (weekend and staff shortage again). With the help of the calculator / calculating board, both children had to place and name a minus task with the beads one after the other. Help was needed to make this possible.

Both children were familiar with plus tasks, but they did not know much about minus tasks at first, although I had already done this with Edith during the second offer.

Edith then placed 3 beads, took 1 away, and 2 remained. The arithmetic task was to be named: 3 -1=2.
With the help of the cuboid numbers game, this could also be done. However, neither of them wanted to write it down in their notebooks.
To make it easier for them, they had to calculate the next tasks with the help of felt pens.
Lotte calculated: 2-1=1.
Edith: 5-3=2, Lotte 4-1=3, Edith again 8-4=4, Lotte didn’t want any more. So we continued with:

Part 2
Trying to make the children understand division tasks. First I tried it with the help of the felt pens.

I have eight pens and one girl. How many pens can I give her? The answer was immediately clear to Lotte, Edith still hesitated.

I have eight pens and would like to distribute them fairly to two children. How many does each child get?
I have eight pencils and would like to give four children the same number of pencils. How many does each child get?

With Lotte it somehow clicked. For Edith, I made it obvious again: we assigned places to the four children and distributed the pencils to each place in turn. That way it became clear.

In order not to let it get boring, now there must be a cake. Each of them had to paint a big round cake.

„Now, if two guests come to visit, how can you distribute the cake so that everyone gets the same amount?“ Easy for both girls! The cake was „cut“ in the middle with a line.

„Now, if 4 guests come to visit, how can you distribute the cake so that everyone gets the same amount?“ Lotte immediately draws the second centre line through the cake. Edith ponders longer, looking at her cake.

Then 8 guests!
Lotte draws the corresponding diagonal lines, also in the right place. The cake pieces are almost the same size this way. Edith draws them too, although she can also draw from Lotte. To illustrate the cake pieces, they should use different colours for the lines and number the eight pieces.

Lotte managed 16 pieces of cake well. With Edith, the lines went over each other, resulting in very small uneven pieces.

Writing down these division tasks, they both did not want to learn that – at least not at that time. But they announced very motivatedly that they wanted to paint the cake: with strawberries and chocolate …

Before that, we shared a square cake. As with the round cake, Edith first drew the vertical and horizontal lines. Then, to get 8 parts, the diagonals. Lotte, on the other hand, drew the diagonals first and divided them again later – but in such a way that unequal pieces were created. I think the task with the same size was not so clear to her. But you can only see the result when the lines are already on the paper, maybe she wanted to try something out.

Part 3
After the wonderful colouring of the cake, I asked them if we should stop.

They didn’t want to stop!

I made a new worksheet for Edith. It contained – written from top to bottom – the numbers from 1 to 10 written as a number and next to it the corresponding number words.
Edith read the numbers to me first, but she „cheated“ and didn’t read the number word, but the number. I then wrote down five more number words for her – not in order and not with the number next to it. She then read them to me and enthusiastically started copying them. Very carefully and accurately!

In the meantime, Lotte very motivatedly drew a fruit skewer (this was Lotte’s own idea), which is ideal for three children to share. Then she also drew a vegetable skewer. After that, she wanted the same worksheets as Edith. While Lotte then read the numbers and copied them down, Edith then drew skewers. Lotte copied the numbers very quickly and did not pay attention to the size of the letters or to writing straight (unlike Edith).

Duration: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Observations during the offer:

The two children were not only very nice to each other, but a funny atmosphere developed in between, where both of them really „fraternised“ against me. It was also noticeable that Lotte did not find an end this time either, although she seemed quite tired at first, during the minus tasks. The fact that Lotte is usually quicker with her answers or with her work doesn’t seem to bother Edith. I think each child was able to profit from the other and learn something.

Somehow we didn’t get around to making a number picture ourselves. They both understood the task of sharing well.

Read also: Basic Ideas of Mathematics.

Final thoughts

About the project:

The content of the project was very well chosen for both children and is far from being  exhausted. Both of them were always happy when I collected them in the morning, even though they then, so that we had enough time, could not take part in the „morning circle“. Unfortunately, due to a lack of staff, I often had to stop the activities earlier than it would have been suitable for the children. This was especially true for Edith, who never really wanted to stop.

I tried to explain it to the children in a way they could understand and I think I succeeded. During the sessions, both children were very friendly and respectful with each other. They gave each other tips and help and were very patient with each other. (Lotte, for example, had to wait more often when Edith was not yet finished because of her thoroughness and accuracy).
Neither grumbled or complained about the other. They clearly enjoyed their privilege of doing these offerings together with me alone.

I hope that I will be able to continue this project with them. Apart from the great knowledge potential of the two, which needs to be fostered, and apart from Edith’s huge intrinsic motivation, this is also the best way to enable the two to become friends. Apart from the situation in the gym, where the two of them played alone for a very long time, I don’t know of any other situation where they played together intensively. They both have their own play partners. But the project is really only at the beginning, and I believe that there is still a lot that can develop.

At least they will be able to draw on their shared experiences when they both attend the same school class and experience going to school together.

To Edith (my „observation child“ in the IHVO Course):

Edith’s intrinsic motivation is also huge when it comes to arithmetic. However, she seems to be even more interested in language. It was good for me to have Lotte there for comparison. Lotte is known as an intelligent child – but will soon be 6 years old and has a sister in third grade. Edith is only 5;4 years old, she is an only child, both parents work and she is usually picked up very late from kindergarten.

When I look at all this together, I think that Edith is certainly far more gifted than average and needs appropriate support.


Six years later, contact between Edith and Lotte still continues and is supported by the parents. Edith has since been tested, showing high intelligence in the language area.

Read more about Edith:

Project „Letters“ – Activity for Small Groups 


Date of publication in German: September 2012
Copyright © Lucy Rüttgers, see Imprint.

Felix (5;1) Discovers the Numbers and Is Thrilled

by Kornelia Thul


In a conversation with Felix (5;1) I want to find out if he can already do arithmetic and if so, if he can explain to me what it is. He thinks for a moment and says that he can already do arithmetic, which he immediately proves to me by explaining that 2+2=4 and 3+3=6. He explains to me that you need numbers to calculate and that there are lots of them, up to infinity.

I now ask him to write down the problem 2+2=4. He knows the numbers, but the symbols of the problem are still unknown to him.
Now I ask him to write down the numbers from 1 to 10 on the sheet, and I also write these numbers on a sheet. Felix is now supposed to compare his and my numbers with each other. He quickly notices that some of his numbers look different, which is true because he wrote them down mirror-inverted. He also thinks that my numbers look much neater.
Felix wants to learn more about the numbers, he wants to learn how to write them correctly and nicely. I suggest that I write the numbers in his notebook and indicate the direction of writing with arrows. Felix now writes all the numbers from 1 to 10 once more.

Afterwards we look at our written numbers again and I ask him if he can write down the next numbers after 10. He still knows 11 and 12 and writes them on his sheet.

I ask him to look at the numbers again and tell me his observations. Felix can’t discover anything new and I tell him to take a closer look at 11 and 12 to see which numbers they are made up of. Now Felix can tell me immediately that these numbers are made up of 1 and 1 again or 1 and 2.

Now I write the following numbers up to 20 on my piece of paper so that Felix can tell me what they are made of. Then Felix is challenged to dictate numbers to me, which I write down. He really enjoys this and his numbers get longer and longer. But each of the numbers consists of the numbers we wrote on our slips of paper at the beginning.

Felix is fascinated, suddenly he says that with the 10, the 1 was already on the piece of paper, but the 0 wasn’t yet. He answers my question about the value of the 0 with „nothing at all“. Now he is asked to place the 0 in our written sequence of numbers, he immediately puts it at the beginning before the 1.

Now I explain to him that all the other numbers, no matter how long they are, can be made from the numbers 0 to 9. We look again at the numbers he dictated and Felix is impressed.

Next, Felix is asked to go in search of numbers in the group room. Many things quickly accumulate: Clock, games, number cubes, tape measure, thermometer, ruler….
Now I want him to tell me whether numbers can be represented in other ways, and if so, how. Again the search starts in the group room, Felix finds a dots cube. Felix: „The dots show the numbers.“ That’s all he can find in the group.

Felix should think about whether there are other ways of representing the numbers, but which clearly show which number is meant. A little „finger pointing“ from me helps him along, he shows me the numbers with his fingers. Now we have already gathered three different ways of representing numbers, I ask him to look everywhere for more possibilities (in the outside area of the kindergarten; on the way home; at home).

The next morning, Felix brings me a sheet with lines on it. He explains to me that his friend Carlo has a book about the Stone Age, in which there are cave paintings. On them, Stone Age people drew animals, for example gazelles or deer, and made lines behind them. Carlo explained to him that this shows how many animals a Stone Age hunter killed; the one with the most strokes was the best hunter and had a high position in his tribe.

So the strokes
become the fourth type of representation.

But Felix saw something really funny on the way to kindergarten: „There was a sign on a house where the house numbers are.“

I ask him to draw the sign for me. An IX appears on the paper. Felix has no idea what it means, but he has already heard of the Romans. He knows that there is a city called Rome, which is in Italy, where his father’s parents live. The Romans came from there about 2000 years ago and were also in Cologne, where there is still a Roman museum.

I explain to him that his observation is about a Roman number, namely 9. The ancient Romans didn’t have any extra signs for numbers, they simply used letters to form numbers.

I wrote down the other Roman numerals up to X (10) for Felix.

So all in all, he has found
five ways of representing numbers.

Felix wants to know if our numbers are called German numbers because we use them in Germany.

I explain to him: „These numbers are called Arabic numerals, but they actually originated in India and then came to our region via Arabia about 1000 years ago. So today we mainly use the Arabic numbers, but the Roman numbers are still in use, as you can see from the house number IX.“

You can get Felix so enthusiastic about something with little effort that he keeps working on it and involves the people in his social environment to come to new conclusions.

He is not immediately satisfied with what he has achieved, but remains attentive and open to the task at hand.

But what now should be done with the collected observations?

I suggested to Felix to create something for the group, maybe a number wall with the different ways of representing numbers. Felix agreed, but wanted to work alone with me and then give it to all the children and adults in the group.

The number wall is created

For the number wall we needed cardboard in DinA6 format. Felix wants to write Arabic and Roman numerals, paint on the cube numbers, make the line numbers out of paper – and I should photograph the finger numbers. We get pens, paper, craft scissors, pencil and ruler as well as a nice cloth as a background for the finger number photos.

Felix starts with the Roman numerals. He asks me to help him with the preliminary drawing, as he wants the numbers to be large and clear so that the other children can see them easily. He now paints the numbers with great dedication.

Now the Arabic numbers follow, which Felix can draw on his own and then colour in. While he paints, I set him small addition tasks, first in the tens space, then up to 20. He enjoys it and quickly learns to master the 10 hurdle in arithmetic. I explain to him how to subtract, and up to 10 he can quickly solve the tasks set.

He enjoys doing mental arithmetic so much,
that he comes to me again and again
to do his arithmetic.

The cube numbers are a problem for Felix: if he just draws a square, you can’t tell that it’s supposed to be a cube.
We look at a large cube together, talk about faces, edges and corners. Felix notices that you always see more than one face of the cube; he doesn’t know how to draw that. I draw a cube with pencil and ruler that Felix likes. He wants the cubes for the number wall to look the same.

I get some graph paper so Felix can mark the corners of the cubes exactly before we connect them together with the help of the ruler. He learns that you have to work very precisely so that the edge lines are really straight. When he finally looks at the result, Felix notices that the pencil lines are not very easy to see and he draws them on his own with a felt-tip pen and ruler. In the process, he realises how difficult it is to trace the lines exactly. Again and again the ruler slips and he is a bit disappointed because the cubes don’t have straight edges. I can console him a little with the explanation that the dots on the cubes are more important for our number wall.

Taking photos of the finger numbers is quite quick. We look at the individual photos and then I run through them quickly. Felix can’t stop laughing, he finds the quick run-through so funny, with his individual fingers appearing quickly or disappearing on the return run.

Now it’s the turn of the „line numbers“. Felix cuts strips out of clay paper and sticks them onto the cards according to the respective number. He chooses a different colour for each number because it looks nicer, according to Felix.

The width of the strip should be 1 cm and the strip should be 9 cm long so that there is still a margin at the top and bottom of the 10 cm wide cardboard. We measure the strips together with a ruler and pencil and draw them on. Felix then cuts them out and glues them on. He takes great care that the strips are straight and in a line next to each other. When he glues on the strips for the number four, he ponders for a moment and finally says: „With the big numbers, we have to cut the strips thinner because otherwise they wouldn’t fit on the cardboard, which would then be too small.“ To explain, he takes a strip already cut out for the five and adds it to the four. The whole cardboard is now full, there are no more edges on the left and right. I am amazed that he has recognised this so early and immediately offers the solution, namely „thinner“ strips.
We paint on thinner strips – and it works, even the number ten has enough space on the cardboard thanks to Felix’s attention.

Now that all the rows of numbers are finished, we think together about where the number wall should find its final place. This is not so easy because we are currently redesigning our group room. Felix has an idea: „We can put it above the clock, there are numbers on the clock too.“ But he realises that there wouldn’t be enough space where the clock is hanging now.

As an alternative, he suggests: „We could hang it up in the painting studio (next room), then the children could always look at how the numbers are written correctly.“

In the painting studio we have attached a picture line on which the children can hang their pictures with clothes pegs. Felix thinks it’s funny because it looks like laundry and he also wants to hang the rows of numbers on the line.
Since the wall is still to be painted, we have to wait a little longer before finally placing the number wall.

But since I don’t think Felix’s idea of the clock is bad either, I suggest that we ask our kindergarten director, Mr M., if he can get us a clock for the number wall. Felix goes straight away to clarify the matter and Mr M. comes to the group together with Felix to get an idea. Felix shows and explains everything to him in detail and also says that the number wall would be even nicer with a clock, and waits anxiously for the answer. Mr M. promises that he will buy a clock for Felix’s wall after the holidays. Felix is visibly happy that he will soon be able to surprise the other children with his gift to the group.
It is amazing how self-confident Felix has become. A few months ago, he certainly wouldn’t have gone to Mr M. on his own to clarify the matter of the clock.


Date of publication in German: November 21
Copyright © Hanna Vock

Translated with (free version)

Felix (5;1) entdeckt die Zahlen und ist begeistert

von Kornelia Thul


In einem Gespräch mit Felix (5;1) möchte ich heraus finden, ob er schon rechnen kann und wenn ja, ob er mir erklären kann, was das ist. Er überlegt kurz und sagt, dass er schon rechnen kann, was er mir sofort beweist, indem er erklärt, dass 2+2=4 und 3+3=6 ist. Er erklärt mir, dass man zum Rechnen Zahlen braucht und dass es davon ganz viele gibt, bis unendlich.

Ich bitte ihn nun, die Aufgabe 2+2=4 aufzuschreiben. Die Zahlen kennt er, die Symbole der Rechenaufgabe sind ihm noch unbekannt.
Nun bitte ich ihn, die Zahlen von 1 bis 10 auf dem Blatt zu notieren, und auch ich schreibe diese Zahlen auf ein Blatt. Felix soll nun die Zahlen miteinander vergleichen. Schnell fällt ihm auf, dass manche seiner Zahlen anders aussehen, was stimmt, da er sie spiegelverkehrt notiert hat. Außerdem findet er, dass meine Zahlen viel ordentlicher aussehen.
Felix möchte mehr über die Zahlen erfahren, er möchte lernen, sie richtig und schön zu schreiben. Ich schlage vor, ihm die Zahlen ins Heft zu schreiben und durch Pfeile die Schreibrichtung anzugeben. Felix schreibt nun alle Zahlen von 1 bis 10 nach.

Danach betrachten wir unsere aufgeschriebenen Zahlen noch mal und ich frage ihn, ob er auch noch die nächsten Zahlen nach der 10 aufschreiben kann. Er kennt noch die 11 und die 12 und schreibt sie auf sein Blatt.
Ich bitte ihn nun noch mal, sich die Zahlen gut anzusehen und mir seine Beobachtungen mitzuteilen. Felix kann nichts Neues entdecken und ich weise ihn darauf hin, sich die 11 und die 12 mal genauer anzuschauen, aus welchen Zahlen sie zusammengesetzt sind. Jetzt kann Felix mir sofort sagen, dass diese Zahlen aus 1 und noch mal 1 oder aus 1 und 2 zusammengesetzt sind.

Nun schreibe ich noch die folgenden Zahlen bis 20 auf meinen Zettel, damit Felix auch diese nach ihrer Zusammensetzung bestimmen kann. Anschließend darf Felix mir irgendwelche Zahlen diktieren, die ich aufschreibe. Das macht ihm sehr viel Spaß und seine Zahlen werden immer länger und länger. Doch jede der Zahlen besteht aus den Zahlen, die wir zu Beginn auf unsere Zettel geschrieben haben.

Felix ist fasziniert, plötzlich sagt er, dass bei der 10 die 1 schon auf dem Zettel stand, die 0 aber noch gar nicht. Die Frage nach dem Wert der 0 beantwortet Felix mit „gar nichts“. Nun soll er die 0 einordnen in unsere aufgeschriebene Zahlenfolge, er setzt sie sofort an den Anfang vor die 1.

Nun erkläre ich ihm, dass aus diesen Zahlen von 0 bis 9 alle anderen Zahlen gemacht werden können, egal wie lang sie sind. Wir schauen uns noch mal die Zahlen an, die er diktiert hat, und Felix ist beeindruckt.

Als nächstes soll Felix im Gruppenraum auf die Suche nach Zahlen gehen. Es sammeln sich schnell viele Dinge an: Uhr, Spiele, Zahlenwürfel, Maßband, Thermometer, Lineal…
Nun möchte ich von ihm wissen, ob man Zahlen auch noch anders darstellen kann, und wenn ja wie. Wieder geht die Suche im Gruppenraum los, Felix findet einen Punktewürfel. Felix: „Die Punkte zeigen die Zahlen an.“ Mehr kann er in der Gruppe nicht finden.

Felix soll überlegen, ob es noch andere Darstellungsarten gibt, die aber deutlich zeigen, welche Zahl gemeint ist. Ein kleiner „Fingerzeig“ von mir hilft ihm weiter, er zeigt mir die Zahlen mit seinen Fingern an. Jetzt haben wir schon drei verschiedene Möglichkeiten zur Darstellung von Zahlen zusammengetragen, ich bitte ihn, überall nach weiteren Möglichkeiten zu suchen (im Außengelände des Kindergartens; auf dem Heimweg; zu Hause).

Am nächsten Morgen bringt mir Felix ein Blatt mit, auf dem Striche sind. Er erklärt mir, dass sein Freund Carlo ein Buch von der Steinzeit hat, in dem es Höhlenmalereien gibt. Darauf haben Steinzeitmenschen Tiere, zum Beispiel Gazellen oder Hirsche, gemalt und dahinter Striche gezeichnet. Carlo hat ihm erklärt, dass das zeigt, wie viele Tiere ein Steinzeitjäger getötet hat; der mit den meisten Strichen war der beste Jäger und hatte eine hohe Stellung in seinem Stamm.

So werden die Striche also
zur 4. Darstellungsart.

Doch Felix hat auf dem Weg in den Kindergarten noch etwas ganz Komisches gesehen: „An einem Haus, da wo die Hausnummern sind, da hatten die ein Zeichen.“

Ich bitte ihn, mir das Zeichen aufzumalen. Auf dem Blatt erscheint ein IX, Felix hat keine Idee, was das bedeuten könnte; von den Römern hat er aber schon gehört. Er weiß, dass es die Stadt Rom gibt, die in Italien ist, wo die Eltern seines Vaters leben. Die Römer kamen vor etwa 2000 Jahren von da und waren auch in Köln, wo es noch ein Römermuseum gibt.

Ich erkläre ihm, dass es bei seiner Beobachtung um eine römische Zahl, und zwar die 9, handelt. Die Alten Römer hatten gar keine extra Zeichen für Zahlen, sie benutzten einfach Buchstaben, um Zahlen zu bilden.

Ich habe Felix die anderen römischen Zahlen bis X (10) aufgeschrieben.

Insgesamt hat er also fünf Formen der Zahlendarstellung gefunden.

Felix will wissen, ob unsere Zahlen deutsche Zahlen heißen, weil wir in Deutschland damit rechnen. Ich erkläre ihm, dass man diese Zahlen arabische Zahlen nennt, sie aber eigentlich in Indien entstanden sind und dann vor etwa 1000 Jahren über Arabien in unsere Gegend kamen. Heute benutzen wir also hautsächlich die arabischen Zahlen, aber die römischen Zahlen sind auch noch gebräuchlich, wie du an der Hausnummer IX siehst.

Man kann Felix mit wenig Aufwand so für eine Sache begeistern, dass er immer weiter daran arbeitet und die Menschen in seinem sozialen Umfeld mit einbezieht, um zu neuen Erkenntnissen zu kommen.

Er gibt sich nicht gleich mit dem Erreichten zufrieden, sondern bleibt aufmerksam und offen für die gestellte Aufgabe.

Was sollte aber nun mit den gesammelten Beobachtungen geschehen?

Ich schlug Felix vor, etwas für die Gruppe zu gestalten, vielleicht eine Zahlenwand mit den unterschiedlichen Darstellungsmöglichkeiten von Zahlen. Felix war einverstanden, wollte aber alleine mit mir arbeiten, um es dann allen Kindern und Erwachsenen der Gruppe zu schenken.

Die Zahlenwand entsteht

Für die Zahlenwand brauchten wir Pappe im Format DinA6. Felix möchte arabische und römische Zahlen schreiben, die Würfelzahlen aufmalen, die Strichzahlen aus Papier machen – und die Fingerzahlen soll ich fotografieren. Wir besorgen Stifte, Papier, Bastelschere, Bleistift und Lineal sowie ein schönes Tuch als Hintergrund für die Fingerzahlenfotos.

Felix beginnt mit den römischen Zahlen. Beim Vorzeichnen bittet er mich um Hilfe, da die Zahlen groß und deutlich werden sollen, damit die anderen Kinder sie gut sehen können. Mit viel Hingabe malt er nun die Zahlen aus.

Nun folgen die arabischen Zahlen, die kann Felix alleine vorzeichnen, um sie dann auszumalen. Während er malt, stelle ich ihm kleine Additionsaufgaben, zunächst im Zehnerraum, dann bis zur 20. Es macht ihm Spaß und er lernt schnell, die 10er-Hürde beim Rechnen zu meistern. Ich erkläre ihm, wie man subtrahiert, und bis zur 10 kann er die gestellten Aufgaben schnell lösen.

Das Kopfrechnen macht ihm so viel Spaß,
dass er auch im Außengelände immer wieder zu mir kommt, um zu rechnen.

Die Würfelzahlen sind ein Problem für Felix: Malt er nur ein Quadrat, so kann man nicht erkennen, dass das ein Würfel sein soll.
Wir schauen uns gemeinsam einen großen Würfel an, sprechen über Flächen, Kanten und Ecken. Felix stellt fest, dass man immer mehr als eine Fläche vom Würfel sieht; wie er das abzeichnen kann, weiß er nicht. Ich zeichne mit Bleistift und Lineal einen Würfel, der Felix gefällt. Er möchte, dass die Würfel für die Zahlenwand genauso aussehen.

Ich besorge Millimeterpapier, so kann Felix die Eckpunkte der Würfel genau markieren, bevor wir sie dann zusammen mit Hilfe des Lineals verbinden. Dabei lernt er, dass man sehr genau arbeiten muss, damit die Kantenlinien wirklich gerade werden. Bei abschließender Betrachtung des Ergebnisses fällt Felix auf, dass die Bleistiftlinien nicht sehr gut zu sehen sind, und er malt sie mit Filzstift und Lineal alleine nach. Dabei wird ihm klar, wie schwer es ist, die Linien exakt nachzuzeichnen. Immer wieder verrutscht das Lineal, und er ist ein bisschen enttäuscht, da die Würfel keine geraden Kanten haben. Ich kann ihn ein wenig trösten mit der Erklärung, dass für unsere Zahlenwand die Punkte auf den Würfeln wichtiger sind.

Das Fotografieren der Fingerzahlen geht ganz schnell. Wir schauen uns die einzelnen Fotos an und dann lasse ich sie schnell durchlaufen. Felix kann nicht aufhören zu lachen, so witzig findet er den Schnelldurchlauf, bei dem seine einzelnen Finger fix erscheinen oder beim Rücklauf verschwinden.

Nun sind die „Strichzahlen“ an der Reihe. Aus Tonpapier schneidet Felix Streifen aus und klebt sie, dem jeweiligen Zahlenwert entsprechend, auf die Pappkarten. Er sucht für jede Zahl eine andere Farbe aus, weil das schöner aussieht, so Felix.

Die Streifenbreite soll 1cm betragen und der Streifen soll 9 cm lang sein, damit auf der 10 cm breiten Pappkarte oben und unten noch ein Rand ist. Mit Lineal und Bleistift messen wir gemeinsam die Streifen ab und zeichnen sie auf. Felix schneidet sie dann aus und klebt sie auf. Er achtet dabei sehr darauf, dass die Streifen gerade und in einer Linie nebeneinander liegen. Als er so die Streifen für die Zahl Vier aufklebt, grübelt er kurz und sagt schließlich: „Bei den großen Zahlen müssen wir die Streifen dünner schneiden, weil sie sonst nicht auf die Pappe passen, die wäre dann zu klein.“ Zur Erklärung nimmt er einen schon ausgeschnittenen Streifen für die Fünf und legt sie zu der Vier dazu. Die ganze Pappe ist nun voll, es gibt links und rechts keinen Rand mehr. Ich bin erstaunt, dass er das so früh erkannt hat und gleich die Lösung, nämlich „dünnere“ Streifen, anbietet.
Wir malen schmalere Streifen auf – und es klappt, auch die Zahl Zehn hat dank Felix` Aufmerksamkeit genügend Platz auf der Pappe.

Nachdem nun alle Zahlenreihen fertig gestellt sind, überlegen wir gemeinsam, wo die Zahlenwand ihren endgültigen Platz finden soll. Das ist gar nicht so einfach, da wir unseren Gruppenraum gerade umgestalten. Felix hat die Idee: „Wir können sie ja über der Uhr befestigen, auf der Uhr sind ja auch Zahlen.“ Er erkennt aber, dass da, wo die Uhr jetzt hängt, nicht genug Platz wäre.

Alternative schlägt er vor: „Wir könnten sie doch im Malatelier (Nebenraum) aufhängen, dann könnten die Kinder immer nachschauen, wie die Zahlen richtig geschrieben werden.“
Im Malatelier haben wir eine Bilderleine befestigt, an der die Kinder ihre Bilder mit Wäscheklammern aufhängen können. Das findet Felix lustig, weil das wie Wäsche aussieht und er möchte auch die Zahlenreihen an die Leine hängen.
Da die Wand noch angestrichen werden soll, müssen wir mit der endgültigen Platzierung der Zahlenwand noch etwas warten.

Aber da ich Felix´ Idee mit der Uhr auch nicht schlecht finde, mache ich ihm den Vorschlag unseren Kindergartenleiter Herrn M. zu fragen, ob er uns eine Uhr für die Zahlenwand besorgen kann. Felix geht gleich los, um die Sache zu klären, und Herr M. kommt zusammen mit Felix in die Gruppe, um sich ein Bild zu machen. Felix zeigt und erklärt ihm alles ganz genau und sagt auch, dass die Zahlenwand mit Uhr noch viel schöner wäre, und wartet gespannt auf die Antwort. Herr M. verspricht, dass er nach den Ferien eine Uhr für Felix´ Wand einkauft. Felix freut sich sichtlich, dass er die anderen Kinder bald mit seinem Geschenk an die Gruppe überraschen kann.
Es ist erstaunlich, wie selbstsicher Felix geworden ist. Vor ein paar Monaten wäre er sicher nicht alleine zu Herrn M. gegangen, um die Sache mit der Uhr abzuklären.


Datum der Veröffentlichung: November 21
Copyright © Hanna Vock



Alena, 4;1 Years Old

by Claudia Flaig


Alena came to our kindergarten at the age of 2;6. Already on her first day she sent her dad directly home. (The father who works at night looks after her during the day, while the mother works full time during the day).
Alena showed very good language skills and was remarkably interested. She had a comprehensive view of the kindergarten teachers and the children as well as their activities. Since she was quite tall, she looked older than two and a half.

From the very beginning, we noticed a certain sadness in her, a sense of being introverted. A loud, childlike or silly laugh, for example, was extremely rare in her case – and when it did happen, we would be delighted to draw each other’s attention to it.

In her first kindergarten week she tried twice to run away from the public playground. When asked about it, the parents told us that Alena regularly tries to leave playgrounds as soon as possible and with pleasure alone „after work“.

…in a nutshell…

This first observation includes some situational observations as well as several questionnaires. Two of the questionnaires are filled in in the dialogue between child and kindergarten teacher. This shows that the four-year-old can already handle this very well.
The results are discussed in a parent-teacher interview.

At her young age Alena already showed a pronounced social behaviour and a high sense of justice. She always had an overview of the group events, settled disputes, picked up the babies‘ toys (at that time we worked with two kindergarten teachers and a child care worker in a mixed-age group with 12 children from 0;8 to 5 years). Alena  helped children get dressed and assisted each caregiver.

Later, after her 3rd birthday, the positive social behaviour deepened further: Alena now commented on the whole group life and has been in constant contact with us kindergarten teachers ever since, which unfortunately annoys us again and again. We accept her high need for communication, but admittedly we sometimes show ourselves impatient as well. She comments on this wordlessly with the typical „Alena look“, which should tell us: „I think you have explained this rule to us. She gets hurt here, I report about it and you reject me?“

Alena always feels that she is being approached when it comes to employment offers of any kind. She would like to participate too gladly always and is then attentive and concentrated with the thing, calmly, often in itself turned. Her attention seems untiring at the same time. With her quick comprehension, the realization of tasks is no problem at all.

Even these general observations from Alena’s first year at kindergarten led me to the idea that she could possibly be a child with far above-average talent.

Alena inspires with many play ideas

Shortly after her 4th birthday (at the age of 4;1 years), a more intensive observation begins with the eight older children in the group, with Alena quickly assuming a leading role.

My colleague Kathi is in the gym where she is in charge of a lot of large egg cartons („boards“ for 30 eggs each) – I observe Alena in detail and take notes about her.
What should happen to the unusual game material?

Alena immediately has many ideas, which she announces loudly and clearly, according to which the other children actively participate:
– Ice skating,
– Elephant ears,
– Balance the cartons on your feet first in the prone position and then in the supine position,
– Clamp the cartons between your legs and
– in the partner game, clamp the boxes between the buttocks and the back.

Then my colleague starts a stop dance: When the music stops, each child looks for a box and sits down on it. Alena develops a new play idea: „Look at Kathi, I’m building a bed for myself“ and she takes a box for her head and one for her feet. All the children build it like her. „We can also make a road, Kathi. All the children help her immediately. Alena enjoys her role very much and sometimes says where to put the boxes.

Finally „fire, water, earth“ and „pulling carrots“ are played, both very popular. Alena also takes part with great joy. „When do we go gymnastics again, Kathi“ she asks while dressing.

Note from the course director:
Could Alena organize and carry out a gymnastics offer for four three-year-olds? Do you trust her?

The author took up this suggestion, see: Alena (4;6) Leading a Small Gymnastic Group.

Language test „Dolphin“

The dolphin test for „Diagnostics, parental work and promotion of language competence for four-year-olds“ was mandatory in North Rhine-Westphalia at the time and I took part in a training course.

My opinion on it:
The test situation overwhelms most children and does not allow a realistic test result with inhibited children. It is precisely this problem that prompts me to document this test as an observation.

(Editor’s note: The language test was highly controversial among experts and was abolished again in NRW in 2015.)

Four children took part in our test, including Alena with 4;1. The others are: Mariana (4;4), Frederik (4;1) and Amar (3;10). Since Alena has a remarkably good speech behavior, she is used by me as the first player (dolphin). She loves unknown challenges, so I hope that she will motivate the other children to get in easier.

During the test, a school teacher unknown to the children sits at the next table. Since she makes no effort to introduce herself, let alone to smile, I introduce her to the children. The day before I played the game in the office with children who didn’t take the test. Since then, Alena has asked me five times when she could finally play the new game. She is now absolutely in joyful expectation, she shines with big eyes and nibbles at her fingernails.

The first five tasks (mark certain picture contents with a play figure) are done by Alena fast and correctly. She is excited to take part in the activities of the other children, who are given other tasks. Surprisingly for me she doesn’t interfere and doesn’t even talk for other children.

The next task is to repeat meaningless artificial words, which Alena succeeds in doing flawlessly. Equally without mistakes she repeats meaningful and „nonsense sentences“ (so literally in the test text!) and is concentrated and full of verve.

At the following request to tell what can be seen on a zoo picture, Alena speaks fluently, beginning with the climax, in complex sentences about all the events depicted. When asked about her favourite animals („Monkeys, because they are so funny…“) she can hardly be stopped. The school teacher gives me a sign that it is enough, because she does not follow with her notes.

The other three children find it difficult to cope with the test conditions, as was to be expected. Mariana refuses the majority of the tasks, probably because she finds the artificial situation very strange: an unknown school teacher, the familiar kindergarten teacher, who – according to the detailed behavioural guidelines – explains each task only once, offers no encouraging motivation and continues without explanation in the material.
Amar, a boy with a migration background, is expected to have the biggest problems and Frederik „passes“ the test, but is very excited because of his previous experience with speech therapy.

A worksheet makes fantasy blossom

Shortly thereafter Alena (now 4;2) and two other girls (Jenni, 5 years old, and Mariana, 4 years old) deal with a worksheet in my presence: on it there are two rows of houses to be seen as a line drawing, most of the roofs are only sketched with dots and mostly the chimneys are missing. At first I don’t explain anything.

Alena says immediately: „The roof here (she points to the first house) has a chimney, the others do not. And she paints the chimneys in the lower row of houses.

Now I give the instruction that the children at the houses, which do not have roofs yet (which are marked only with dots), should paint these please in addition. Alena starts to paint in the lower row. Then she paints some roofs. „It is like writing, isn´t it?“ she says, „Here I did not hit the line,“ she points to the spot.

„Now you can paint the chimneys“, I say to the children and Alena now paints them in the upper row of houses and evaluates her result: „I missed a bit here. I paint a window here (she points to the last house in the upper row), then you can also look out. There are curtains on it, they are always closed.“

Then she says to me: „Claudi, people don’t want the house painted.“ – Why not?“ – People say: No, we don’t want that; we find that ugly. They want a white house. This sheet goes into the school folder, doesn’t it? May I paint a sun? The pencil is broken, but you can sharpen it again.“

Jenni says she will paint a moon; it is blue. Then Alena: „But the moon is yellow“ – Jenni: „I paint a round moon“. – Alena: „That’s a full moon then. Then you have to paint everything.“

Again and again Alena scratches her head: She writes „MAPA“ and „APA“. She points to the A. The horizontal bar protrudes beyond the side lines. „That’s a little wrong, isn’t it?“ I reassure her that anyone who can read will recognize this letter. „I am finished, Claudi. Can I put the sheet in the folder?“ She punches the sheet radiantly and staples it in.

Observations during free play on the playground

We want to go to a public playground. The group puts on shoes and jackets in the wardrobe. Lina (2 years old) goes back to the group room with the doll buggy without permission. Alena (still 4;2) is putting on her jacket just across the hall. She runs after the two-year-old and shouts: „Lina, Lina, come here! I’ll dress you. We go to the playground. You can’t go back to the group, and the buggy has to stay here.“

On the playground, Alena immediately climbs the climbing frame: „Claudi, Claudi, look!“ A woman walks past the edge of the playground with a baby carriage. Alena runs to her and shouts: „Frau Meister, where are you going?“ – „Home.“
Alena jumps into the sandbox. „Claudi, look, the sand is soft. I collected sticks. And a friend of my mother’s just passed by here.“

Alena continues playing in the sand, ten meters away the two-year-old Justus cries. Alena pauses and looks. „He just squabbled. He didn’t hurt himself. He has to learn that.“

Alena goes to Jenni and calls to me: „Claudi, we have a pen here. Jenni paints with it.“
She points to thin sticks collected by Jenni.
Then she asks: „Claudi, where is Frederik actually? I answer that he is with the speech therapist. Alena: „Why?“ – „He practices speaking there.“ – Then Alena immediately: „I can speak.“

Note from the course leader:
This good self-confidence must be maintained.

Alena takes a thick stick and drills it round in the sand: „Tax, tax, tax.“ (joystick) Then she notices: „I have to get the sand out of my shoe. But I won’t do that until we leave.“

Meanwhile Jenni has sprinkled a cuboid wooden block with soft, dry sand and now paints with a stick as a pen on it. Alena: „That’s not possible. You can’t really write on it.“ She looks very interested at the wooden block. „Come, let’s make some cake!“ She builds a mountain and puts sticks in the sand cake. Alena laughs: „Look, Claudi. These are candles. I’ll get some flowers.“ Jenni and Alena keep wordless eye contact all the time. Alena fetches daisies from the meadow and holds them out to Jenni wordlessly. Jenni, who otherwise also talks a lot, hands her the coveted block of wood without saying a word. Very social, I think. Alena beams, plays with the block for a moment, then goes back to the climbing frame.

Interim evaluation of the observations

During these intensive observations, deeply buried knowledge from my training in psychology came back to my spiritual surface.
Although the observations did not actually bring any new knowledge about Alena, I was very surprised how concretely the theses (about early giftedness) that had only been suspected until then can be proven.

I noticed this above all when I spoke with my colleagues about the occupations with Alena. I find it very positive that this has made giftedness an issue in our group and in the entire kindergarten and sensitised our colleagues to it. In any case, I plan to keep offering Alena challenging and long-term tasks and record how she deals with them.

Gaining knowledge through questionnaires

In order to further deepen the already gained knowledge about Alena, I went through different questionnaires together with Alena (aged between 4;2 and 4;7 years) or conducted formalized interviews accordingly. These are in detail:

– the Gelsenkirchen Development Companion
– the IHVO Questionnaire on the self-assessment of the child, how it experiences communication in the kindergarten group,
– the IHVO Questionnaire on Child´s Interests for the kindergarten.

In preparation for an evaluative interview, Alena’s parents also used the
IHVO Questionnaire for Parents for 4- to 6- Years Old Children in Kindergarten completed.

One more important preliminary remark.
At the time of this survey a large-scale restructuring is taking place in the kindergarten, which leads to great unrest among the kindergarten teachers and the children as well as the parents:

– The concept of mixed-age groups is partly abandoned,
– A new group is formed with numerous children from a kindergarten that was closed,
– The management of the entire facility changes.

In Alena’s group, however, little is changed so that the continuity of observations can also be maintained.

The evaluation of the IHVO communication questionnaire shows that Alena’s self-assessments roughly agree with my findings.

As expected, Alena names Jenni as a particularly popular play partner and sees herself in good contact with the younger ones in the group. But Alena also likes to listen to Mariana, who is a clever, imaginative child and certainly an interesting play partner.
Although Alena comes up with many good play ideas, she has the feeling that she can’t always bring them into the group. This could be due to her decisive nature.
Antipathy, she feels towards two boys, Amar and Jeremy. Nevertheless, she has chosen Amar in her gymnastics group „so that he learns some things better“, as Alena says. Here her strong social behaviour becomes visible. About another boy, Frederik, she positively points out that you can learn something about football from him.

Alena answers the interest questionnaire with interest and speed. The longest (6 seconds!) she thinks about when asked what she doesn’t like about kindergarten, and then this comes: „The older children don’t take good care of the babies, because something bad can happen to the babies“.

As already in the IHVO questionnaire, she again names Jenni and Mariana as her dearest play partners, in addition she mentions Frederik – even in the first place.
When asked what she „would like to be able to do a little better“, Alena emphasizes: „I would like to be able to write“.

When asked what she would like to learn, Alena answers: „To drive an airplane, to turn a Giant Ferris wheel. When I asked her about the Giant Ferris Wheel, she explained that she wanted to learn how to set the technology in motion and to understand what happens there.

She finds it difficult (but probably quite positive) for herself „when I have to look at things on my own – for example, new games that I explain to the children“.

And what annoys her so often? „If the children don’t listen to me, for example when I tell them to be quiet. They have to learn that, but they don’t understand. The children also often take away something that belongs to others – and then they take it home with them or to grandma.“
She also has this fear for her favourite toy, a cloth monkey: „It’s lying on the doll’s cupboard. I’m afraid of losing it here. It’s so beautiful.“

When asked about her favourite book, she says: „Cinderella. My mother likes to read it to me – my dad doesn’t, because it’s only for women.“
Alena gives a complex answer to this question: „You meet an old woman who knows everything about the world and life. What would you ask her? What else?“ –
„I wouldn’t ask anything because my mom says that strange women steal dogs. – I’d ask her how to steer a car or a rocket.“

I was astonished that she ended two answers with the sentence: „And done!“ Obviously Alena is not ready for any further statements.

After first stating „painting“ as one of her favourite pastimes, she later suddenly explains what she is „really proud“ of: „I only paint Krickelkrakel because: if I paint beautifully and something goes wrong, then I get angry. Because then I don’t paint what I want. I can’t do it then.“
This shows me Alena’s high demands on herself. Now it is essential to take care to avoid excessive demands. We have to let Alena learn to patiently implement her ideas in fine motor design and also to allow imperfections.

(See also the article: Drawing course with Linda)

Her social responsibility goes beyond her own interest in flying a helicopter herself. This shows her answer to the question of a possible career aspiration. O-Ton Alena: „Emergency doctor – ambulance and helicopter drive to save people“.

On a final list of a total of 17 offers (from theatre games to reading, computers, writing and arithmetic to solving riddles) Alena crosses everything as particularly interesting without hesitation – this is also evident in everyday kindergarten life.

Note from the course director:
Amazing that she likes to do everything. We rarely see such sheets.

Alena’s manifold interests and abilities, which are often only expected at an advanced age, are also reflected in the Gelsenkirchen Development Companion, which I went through with her at the age of 4;6. Here I could mark 26 of 28 items of the age group 5 to 5;6 for her. In the age range „5;6 until school enrolment“ the four-and-a-half year old reaches 40 of 54 requirements, all of them in the subject areas „Language“, „Cognitive Development“ and „Social Competence“. Only in the areas of „fine motor skills“ and „gross motor skills“ does she „only“ reach the level of the age group 5 to 5;6 years.

Talk with Alena´s parents

For scheduling reasons, we only manage to have the parents‘ talk about our collected observations at the third attempt. Alena is now 4;7 years old.

When I arrive, the parents are embarrassed because they are still busy filling out the parent questionnaire. I show understanding and say that it is no problem not to answer some questions – we can now talk about it in peace. They are relieved and I suggest to start with the conversation about the (Gelsenkirchen) development companion. With this I would like to give them self-confidence, because we already talked about this half a year ago – about our findings at that time.

The development sheet shows only a few requirements to be fulfilled by children to be enrolled in school – although Alena is much younger. For Alena, the skills still to be acquired are exclusively in the fine and gross motor area, which I find age-appropriate.

Early enrolment?

According to Alena’s previous development, I assume that she will meet all requirements by her fifth birthday. Alena can thus be described as ready for school in the coming school year. Immediately the parents say that they have been occupied with this idea for some weeks. The primary school is opposite her house. Alena looks out of the window every morning longingly and says that she would like to go to school now.

Alena’s interest in numbers, letters, questions from nature and subject areas and her search for older children led us in the course of the conversation to register Alena for next year’s primary school (then she is 5;5). In the kindergarten we want to let her participate in the preschool program „Schlaufüchse“ (clever foxes).

However, the decision to let her go to school early will only be made before the summer holidays, after trial lessons in the primary school in cooperation with Alena. If she doesn’t want to go to school prematurely, the decision would of course be against enrolment.

Now we look at the communication questionnaire. Our common conclusion: Alena is oriented towards Jenni and Mariana, the oldest children in the group. At the same time, she likes to take responsibility for younger children and unfortunately can only learn from adults.

Conclusions from the interest questionnaire

The conversation with the parents about the interest questionnaire for the kindergarten brings a number of new insights.
The parents of Alena’s choice of words are positively surprised. They are amazed at Alena’s report about her toy monkey, who is always lying on the doll’s wardrobe. Although they know him, they don’t know how well protected and observed he is yet.

Alena’s description that the father refuses to read to Cinderella makes us all laugh. The father confirms that he refuses to read the story – he hates it.

Warning against perfectionism

In response to Alena’s explanation that she only does „Krickelkrakel“ because she (supposedly) can’t paint well enough, her mother says that she herself is very perfectionist and demands the same from Alena. She even improves Alena’s mandalas!
Fortunately, she shows herself to be self-conscious about it. So it’s easy for me to convince her that this behavior can do a lot of damage. I suggest that she tell Alena when she’s painting that she can paint and colour really well for her age. Even parents can admit mistakes. And children must not be underestimated, as if they could not understand behavior corrections of the parents.

Both parents say for themselves that they now also see that they praise Alena far too rarely. This could also be the cause of Alena’s often hectic and unfocused way of working. From now on they want to give her more courage to make mistakes. How could this be better than when they are a good role model for Alena.

The parents confirm many findings from the Kindergarten

When we looked through the parents´ questionnaire together, some of which had been completed in the meantime, we found agreement with the questionnaires we had collected in all areas.

The parents confirm our observations about Alena’s particularly pronounced independence and her large vocabulary. They also observe that Alena prefers to play with significantly older children and can concentrate for a long time („approx. 1 hour“) on activities such as painting and looking at books. They also see their interest in numbers and letters, in learning to read and write. They also know that Alena „prefers to go to school now“.

In particular, the parents emphasize Alena’s strength in dealing with other people. They call the strengths of their daughter „understanding, empathetic“. In addition, I tell the parents in detail about Alena’s gymnastics group.

In this context we talk again about Alena’s self-confidence. She naturally has self-confidence in things she masters. She is also always open-minded about learning new things. If this doesn’t work out right away, however, she becomes nervous and loses her self-confidence.

The parents don´t answer in the questionnaire on whether Alena would like to have a kindergarten child as a friend. They say that they have been thinking for some time about who might be eligible. They have the impression that Alena is looking for a friend because she complained at home that she still do not know the elder children from the new group.
Here I see a weak point of our kindergarten work: All children are allowed to join the other group at any time if they’ll just let me know, but they don’t. Here we urgently have to work up.

Note from the course leader:
It’s a good thing that this self-critical assessment took place just a few weeks after the above-mentioned restructuring of the kindergarten – with Alena’s support!

The parents do not know the answer to the questionnaire question „What does their child like to laugh about? But we quickly find out that Alena is rather the type who smiles. I try to explain to the parents that not every person who does not laugh loudly and heartily is an unhappy person. Alena is serious, but not unhappy, even if sometimes a little bit melancholic.

I then ask how Alena is behaving at home in general, because she seems a little stressed to me at the moment. The parents are indeed quite finished moving, renovating and opening their café. Alena is mothering her parents, she seems to have the right idea about the situation. She sends her parents on the couch to rest, makes them salad and cleans up – luckily everything is not perfect…

Note from the course leader:
A clever, dear child – but who urgently needs something inspiring of her own!

We agree that Alena should urgently find her own needs in order to be able to pursue her areas of interest. I ask about possible musical interests – and lo and behold: Alena has wanted to learn the violin for a long time – but she probably means cello. The mother wants to inquire at the music school about appropriate possibilities. In addition I point out the activities of a local association for parents of highly gifted children and to the Internet address of the IHVO.

At the end of the almost three-hour conversation, we agree on a protocol and I give the parents information material about giftedness and early school enrolment.


You can follow Alena’s support, as far as it is documented in the manual contributions, chronologically over almost two years:

Alena (4;6) Leading a Small Ggymnastics Group

The Dead Mother from Pompeii and Crayons for South Africa

Disassembling Electric Devices

Alena (5) Studies Letters – When Should She Enroll at School?

Alena (5;2) Gets to Know the Shadow Theatre

Alena (5;10) and a Small Group Are Becoming Experts of the Learning Workshop


Date of publication in German: April 2018
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see Imprint

The Dead Mother from Pompeii and Crayons for South Africa

by Claudia Flaig


I am constantly on the lookout for topics and projects that appeal especially to the highly and especially gifted children in our kindergarten.

I would like to describe two such activities here.

The dead mother from Pompeii

Charlotte, 4 years old, came excitedly to the kindergarten in the morning and told me about the devastating earthquake in Asia. She explained to me that the earth is like puzzle pieces and that they can move.
Hannes (4;2 years), sitting at the breakfast table, explained to us that this is also how volcanoes were formed. Jeremy (3;6 years) tells us about fire-breathing mountains.

Charlotte’s mother said that Charlotte hadn’t been able to sleep at night and that she would certainly have some more questions to ask. I suggested that we could get clever after breakfast by looking at the encyclopaedia and the globe.

Thus began a great gathering of information in the kindergarten and at the children’s homes. Many children, also from the other group, browsed through our literature.

The book by Tilman Röhrig about the eruption of Vesuvius fascinated Hannes, Charlotte and Alena enormously.

About the book „Tilman Röhrig erzählt von dem Ausbruch des Vesuvs“ (Tilman Röhrig tells of the eruption of Vesuvius):

The city of Pompeii is destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Flavia, the wife of a rich merchant, does not take the first earthquake seriously, but sends her daughter Pia, her nanny Thekla and her son Stephanos by ship to Rome. Thus they survive, but Pia has to live with the death of her mother.

Actually, we had intended to paint fire-breathing volcanoes. Admittedly, I imagined our wall to be very beautifully decorated with them – but the death of Flavia, Pia’s mother, preoccupied the children, and now also six-year-old Jenni, so much that we started a big community work on it.

There is a picture in the book that the children wanted to paint. Painting the reclining mother caused problems; Hannes suggested that he lie down on the cardboard and the children could trace his outline.

Using a spraying technique, the lava ash was added. My „observation child“ Alena (5;2) was not there that day, so she did not participate in the painting, but was very enthusiastic about the picture.

The topic of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as well as the topic of death yielded us many clever conversations in which Alena participated whenever she was there. But the other children in the group also took what they needed from the „food“. Even Lisette, 1;10 years old and another bright little one, knows that the picture is called „The Dead Mother“.

Charlotte and Hannes are both certainly special to highly gifted children. I am in active contact with their parents. From September onwards, they come to my group as „Schlaufüchse“ (shifters), i.e. pre-school children – even though the parents of both children reject early school enrolment; but one has nothing to do with the other. Charlotte and Hannes have already found each other as friends and now also meet privately.

Crayons for South Africa

After my holiday in South Africa, I showed the children photos from a township where many black families live in great poverty.

(Editor’s note: Townships are housing estates for the black, coloured or Indian population, which are designed according to racist political patterns. Many townships have the dimensions of medium-sized and large cities – very often without a corresponding infrastructure. In the period from 1948 to 1994, apartheid (racial segregation) policy became official government policy in South Africa. This further exacerbated the marginalisation of the black, coloured and Indian population and their mass impoverishment. The problem grew so huge during this period that even after the end of apartheid policy in 1994, people still have to live in hopeless poverty in many townships).

I had Gloria Mbalis‘ small project in the township. She looks after and supports a small group of children, similar to our kindergartens. However, this is done to a large extent to protect the little girls from HIV infection. There is still a superstition in many people’s minds that dejuvenating a girl could cure an AIDS patient. Of course, I kept these details from my kindergarten children.

In any case, I was able to tell the children a lot about everyday life in that kindergarten. A song („Das Buslied“) that we sing in German, the children there sing in English. I also described to the children how few toys the children have to make do with.

We decided to send the children a package with pens, sweets, photos of us and self-drawn pictures. The idea was to give some of their own pens.

The children were very engaged. Jeremy (3;6), for example, woke up at night, woke up his parents and said excitedly: „I need pens for Claudi’s children in Africa!“
Hannes (4;2) was sent away for some more time at the paediatrician; he dragged his mother to the shop below the surgery and insisted on buying a packet of crayons „for our kindergarten in Africa“.

In the kindergarten we designed a poster with the photos from Africa and hung it in our group.
We wrote a letter to Gloria with the following questions:

– Do you also get sunburn, too?
– Do you always have to wear a sun hat?
– How do you celebrate starting school?
– Do you have siblings in the group?
– How do you celebrate birthdays?

Unfortunately, we haven’t received an answer yet. Gloria has also stopped replying to my emails. I hope that they will be spared from the riots that are going on in many townships at the moment and „only“ have no electricity.

In any case, the world map and the globe are indispensable in our group.

Later we found out that the whole neighbourhood was burnt down; the package came back after three months and we did not get in touch anymore.


Date of publication in German: April 2018
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint


Experiments with Magnets

by Elisabeth Nawroth


With a small group of five children, I carried out three consecutive activities on the theme of „The Magnet“, each of which lasted about an hour. In order to be able to respond flexibly to the needs and ideas of the children, I did not set a fixed time frame for the individual project units.

The participating children were (names changed):

Tanja , 5 years old,
Leonie, 4 years old,
Sigrun, 5 years old,
Laura, 4 years old,
Janek, 4 years old.

I got to know them all through my advisory work within the DGhK. (This is a german society for the promotion of highly gifted children). They only knew each other to some extent, so a getting-to-know-you phase had to be planned at the beginning of the project.

The children are not tested yet, they attend different kindergartens.

Preliminary information:

Magnetic is the name given to those metals that attract iron, cobalt and nickel, but not other substances such as wood, brass, lead, ceramics, etc. The natural magnetic ironstones are only very weakly magnetic. The artificial magnets used today are made of steel or certain alloys.

… in brief …

The author offers five still very young children to do experiments with magnets. The children are very interested and persistent. They easily gain insights that are sometimes only taught in secondary schools.

The points of strongest attraction of a magnet are called poles. If you hang a bar magnet in the middle on a thread, one of its ends will point to the north. The pole facing north is called the north pole, the other the south pole.

The north pole of one magnet attracts the south pole of another magnet. However, two north poles repel each other, because unequal poles attract each other and equal poles repel each other.

The magnetic lines of force run from one pole of a magnet to the other. If you attach a freely movable pole of the same name to one pole, it will be repelled along a line of force by one pole and at the same time attracted by the other pole. The totality of these lines of force is called the magnetic field.

Various magnets and compasses are available in well-stocked toy shops, for example at Wehrfritz.

Iron filings are available in locksmith’s shops.

Unit 1: What materials does a magnet attract?

The children realise that the magnet has the power to attract some objects.

For 1O minutes we played getting-to-know-you games, then I brought a fishing game with magnetic and non-magnetic fish to the table.The game was familiar to the children, they now had a lot of fun fishing for things that don’t actually belong in the fishing game (paper clips, nails, screws, crown caps).

After the fishing game, the children wanted to try out the effect of the magnet on other objects in the room. They tested with their magnets whether the things could be attracted or not.

The test objects were wood, corks, crown caps, scissors, money, sponge, paper clips, keys, screws, paper notebooks, nails, wool, stones, needles, a Pixi book and a soft toy.

They distributed the tested objects on two prepared posters with the symbols for „magnetic“ and „non-magnetic“ .

The assignment of the real objects to the symbols went without difficulty. Janek had sorted the nails to „non-magnetic“, but this was then immediately noticed and corrected by the girls.

In the conversation it became clear that the children were already familiar with magnets; however, they could not name any examples from the household.

Unit 2: A magnet works through objects

The children realise that the magnet does not always have to be in direct contact with the object to be attracted.

When the mothers brought their children to the second project unit, they reported that their children had already been waiting impatiently for the next meeting. Even Janek, whom the mother had warned me that he wouldn’t do anything if he didn’t feel like it, was happy to come back and also participated well in the second lesson.

The topic of the second lesson was introduced by the following demonstration: On the front side of a cardboard (approx. DIN A 4 size) a paper clip moves, which is „controlled“ by a magnet on the back side of the cardboard. The magnet is not visible to the children, but Laura immediately sees through this „magic trick“ and explains the connection to the other children.

We then carried out the first experiment.


a paper clip, a ruler, several magnets.

Experiment set-up:
A paper clip lies next to the long side of a ruler (in the zero area); with a magnet, the children approach from the end of the ruler and can thus read off the distance at which the magnet acts on the paper clip.

The children actually realise that a magnet can only attract an object at a certain proximity. The experiment is repeated with several different magnets. All five children understand that the magnets have different strengths.


several (school) paper notebooks / thicker and thinner cork discs / thicker and thinner wooden discs, a paper clip, a magnet.

Experiment set-up:
First one exercise book is placed between the magnet and the paper clip, then two, and so on. The children realise that a magnet works through paper (here an exercise book). By experimenting, they realise that a magnet only works through a certain number of exercise books.

Then the thinnest cork disc / wooden disc is used first, followed by thicker and thicker ones.

Here the realisation is similar.

The children have the idea to repeat the experiments with stronger / weaker magnets and observe carefully.

They found that a magnet can attract iron through paper, cork and wood, depending on how strong it is and how thick the materials are. They also swapped magnets with each other in between to try out whether the other child’s magnet really attracts better or worse.

They had the most fun with experiment 3.


Water, a little boat (=small cork plate with a paper clip attached to the bottom with a drawing pin), transparent container, magnets.

Experiment set-up:
A boat floats in the water container. The children try to guide the boat with a magnet.

At the beginning, I had five boats floating in a transparent bowl. Three of them had paper clips and two boats had no paper clips. I told the children that some boats could sail with „magic power“ and demonstrated this.

Each child was then given his or her own shell and a boat. The „magic“ worked for three children, but not for two. They had the idea to take a closer look at the boats and noticed that three boats had paper clips under the cork and the other two did not. After we had completed the rest of the boats with paper clips, the children used magnetic force to move the boats through the water for about 10 minutes.

The children realised that the magnetic force also goes through the water. By adding water, it became clear that the magnetic forces are not sufficient when the distance between the magnet and the iron becomes too great.

Unit 3: How do the poles of a magnet relate to each other?

The children realise that magnets have poles with certain properties and that the attractive and repulsive forces are strongest at the poles.

Different types of magnets (bar, disc and horseshoe magnets), iron filings, one or more compasses.

As an introduction to the new unit, I had placed Brio train carriages on a wooden track. This way the children could experience that there are different magnets attached to the wagons. Only some attracted each other and thus connected the wagons, others repelled each other and the wagons moved a little bit apart on the track.


Experimental set-up:
A bar magnet with red/green markings is hung horizontally from the back of a chair with a string. (On some magnets the poles are also marked with an embossed S and an N).

I explain to the children that the green side of a magnet is the south pole and the red side is the north pole of the magnet.

After-the magnet had balanced itself, all the children realised that no matter how many times they moved the magnet out of its direction, the ends (the poles) always turned back to the same position, so that its ends (poles) always pointed in the same direction.

The question arose:
Why is that?

I then explained that our globe itself is also a huge magnet. The magnetic forces are strongest at the poles of the earth. The pole of a magnet that is attracted to the north pole of the earth is called the north pole of the magnet. A compass is built so that its needle always shows where north is on the earth.


Experiment set-up:
1 compass (red-green magnetised sheet metal strip, about 0.5 cm thick, 10 cm long, resting on the tip of a needle) was placed on the table so that all the children could see it clearly. The children pushed the compass needle lightly, observed it and described its behaviour when it stopped.

They noticed the similarity in behaviour between the suspended magnet (from experiment 1) and the compass needle, which also always settled in the same direction.


Experiment set-up:
Iron filings are poured onto a sheet of paper. The children try out with 4 bar magnets how the filings are attracted. They observe and describe the respective behaviour of the iron filings.

The children had a lot of fun with this experiment. They investigated what happens when two like poles are held towards the iron filings and what happens when 2 unlike magnets meet above the iron filings. Sigrun then came up with the idea of holding a magnet under the paper.

Through prolonged experimentation with the magnets, the children found out that the iron filings always contracted, „gathered“, where a north pole and a south pole acted on them at the same time. The filings then lay between the poles.

If they held two equal poles (2 south poles or 2 north poles) near the filings, then the lines that formed the filings curved outwards, away from the poles.

As Janek’s mother reported to me, the day after the third unit,
her son played „Magnets“ at home for over 2 hours,
he replayed the units.

The mother could only with difficulty stop him from calling me after 10 pm to ask for the name of the „powder“. He could not remember the word iron filings.


Visit to the Magnet Museum:

Fortunately, there was the Magnet Museum in Dortmund-Aplerbeck near us. The visit there was a worthy conclusion to the series of experiments.

The children enthusiastically accepted the offer to magnetise iron themselves under the guidance of a museum employee.

Even at the end of the almost two-hour tour, the children still showed very good concentration and attention. For all the children it was clear that they wanted to visit this exhibition again soon with their parents.


Date of publication in German: December 2011
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint.

Disassembling Electric Devices

by Claudia Flaig


A cross-group technology project ran for 12 weeks in our kindergarten. For organisational reasons, it took place for one hour in the morning on two days of the week.

At the beginning of the project, we put up a poster asking parents to donate their old electrical appliances. Within a few days, we receive two computers, a video recorder, a bathroom scale and a CD player with speakers. Later, more equipment is added.

A computer is taken apart

First, I put the computer and a toolbox on a table in the project area – a kindergarten hallway where free play is otherwise offered and some of the children have lunch.

As soon as the children come to the kindergarten, they rush to this table with interest. Alena, my observation child in the IHVO Certificate Course, has been coming extra early since then. Children from all groups, including the U3 (children under three years), want to „screw“.

We stick the dismantled small parts on a poster. The parents – especially the fathers – show interest and are then included as experts.

Next to the glued-on computer parts I write – as far as I know – the exact names. A father takes a photo of a part I don’t know. He finds out that it is an obsolete floppy disk drive. And he also brings along a floppy disk so that we can follow the technical procedure.

It takes the children six hours
to dismantle the first computer.

My help only consists of explaining how to use tools safely, getting technical literature and loosening the screws.
Sometimes the children take small parts with them and ask their grandpa or uncle what it’s all about.
In the meantime, the children only need one and a half hours to dismantle a computer. „Violence“ is only used on solder joints.

What the children can learn

The children learn that different activities are required to assemble a device: They screw, glue, plug, solder, melt and staple.

Familiar individual parts appear again and again: Drives, magnets, spirals, springs, gears of various sizes.

The process of disassembling always requires that the respective object part be fixed precisely. The screwdriver (sometimes slotted, sometimes cross-slotted) is pressed and then turned to the left. The last turns are made with the fingers so that we can put the screw into the material bowl. After discovering magnetism through the magnets in the speaker boxes, magnets are also used to secure screws that have been turned out.

The children quickly find out that it is helpful to turn the object to be taken apart. This way, they can always discover new ways to get screws or plugs.

Even these basic skills mentioned above mean a challenge for many children and make for a beaming smile after they have successfully mastered them.
For other, particularly interested, especially gifted children, the „adventure of technology“ only begins here!

The discovery of magnetism leads us to experiment with magnets. We get the book „What is what? Magnetism“ and browse through it a lot. The topic also fits in with the poster about the routes of migratory birds that hangs in the hallway. An old familiar magnet construction game takes on a whole new meaning!

See also: Experiments with Magnets 

Clear rules for safety

Many rules that are necessary for safety when dismantling equipment „come naturally“ and are quickly learned by children.

Here are the most important ones:

    • Never put removed plugs into the socket! (I dispose of them immediately).
    • Always work away from the body with tools – risk of injury!
    • We take turns – but each mechanic is allowed to finish his job in peace!
    • We try to use as little force as possible. By turning the object, we are sure to find new ways of dismantling it.
    • Most cable ends have a plug at the end. We only cut cables in an emergency. Our expert is the „computer expert“ Mariana (5 years old). We can ask her – she finds every plug!
    • Small parts that fall on the floor have to be picked up immediately – baby alarm!

The disassembly project has proven itself

In the meantime, dismantling electrical appliances has become a regular part of free play.

We still have some appliances „in stock“. In addition, Amar (5 years old) has suggested building a computer man out of the scrap parts – a great idea!

Alena shows great interest in the project. However, she never works on the equipment alone for long. She especially likes to work in a team.


Date of publication in German: April 2018
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint

Alena (4;6) Leading a Small Gymnastic Group

by Claudia Flaig


Alena’s need to look after younger children in the group and also to take responsibility for them is particularly strong. Therefore, the suggestion of the course leader (IHVO Certificate Course) immediately convinced me to let Alena (she is now 4;6 years old) lead a small gymnastics group. (See Alena, 4;1 Years.)

Such a task corresponds to her willingness to help and also enables her to learn a few things: to take a back seat, to consider the needs, expectations and ideas of other children, to acknowledge them and to respond to them. These are all important social skills that also create recognition and friends. At the same time, the other children benefit from Alena’s wealth of ideas.

… in brief…

The author sees a social talent in four-year-old Alena, but also sometimes an impatient, unfriendly behaviour towards other children in the group.
To encourage her, she lets her lead a very small group – with two other children.

Alena receives guidance from the author, her kindergarten teacher, and it becomes clear that Alena learns quickly.

Preliminary talk with Alena

I tell Alena that she can do gymnastics with a small group of three to four children if she likes. I would have expected her to choose either three clever three-year-olds or three two-year-olds from the group for this. But without much hesitation she chooses Sina (3;2) and Amar (4;3) and justifies it like this: „I take Amar because he is a big child and still has to learn a lot better, and Sina because she is a girl. Because I think she’s nice.“

Amar’s overall development is very delayed. The children in the group also notice that he has special behaviour patterns. So he urgently needs support, which Alena surprisingly sees completely correctly.
Sina is an exceptionally bright, clever, overall very well-developed girl and helpful.
I must express my respect to Alena for this combination.

(Note from the course leader:
Did you do it too?)

For Amar, this mini group is manageable, he will like that. He is already overwhelmed in small groups with five children. Alena doesn’t want to take more children, at most a second group.

Alena immediately has ideas about what she can do with them:

    • sliding on benches,
    • use wooden sticks,
    • ball games („Sina rolls it to me, and I roll it to Amar“),
    • running games („You can run there“),
    • rolling boards („Everyone will have the board for a long time“),
    • gymnastics with hoops.

I suggest to Alena that she think about a theme at home. Tomorrow she could go to the gym with me and the two of them. „I can draw it,“ she says.

First gym lesson (35 minutes)

The next morning at breakfast, Alena explains: „I’ve thought of something: I’ll do gymnastics with the cardboard tubes. We lay them next to each other and put a mat on top. Then Amar can stand on it and Sina can jump on it.“
Alena already differentiates the different abilities of the two children in her imagination.

After breakfast we go to the gym. Sina has no gymnastics kit. „It doesn’t matter, then you do gymnastics in your underwear,“ Alena says. After they have changed, Amar wants to run. I draw Alena’s attention to this. She asks him to run. Then Sina has to go to the toilet and I go with her.

When we come back, Alena and Amar are already playing with the mats. Sina runs over and plays along. Amar runs across the mats shouting: „I am Spiderman!“ Alena shouts, „First you take your cabbage head!“ I am totally horrified and apparently look it, because Alena says to him very kindly, „Shall I get you rolling boards, Amar?“ When he doesn’t answer, she tries twice more to get an answer from him. I whisper to her that she hasn’t spoken nicely to him either and that he might be sad now. Alena goes to Amar, takes him by the hand and goes with him to the materials room. Sina goes with her and the children come back with wooden sticks.

I remind them of the plan to build with cardboard tubes and mats. „That also works with wooden sticks,“ says Alena. Sina wants more sticks. Alena runs off. I ask her to take Sina with her. Together they sort the sticks and the mats, and Alena says, „I’m going to say a name now: Sina!“ I explain to Alena that she should politely ask the children to do gymnastics, that she should ask and thank them. Immediately her tone changes.

While Sina follows her instructions with an open mind, Alena is obviously annoyed by Amar’s clumsiness. She rolls her eyes, takes a deep breath and gets louder.

I ask Sina and Amar to hop on the small mat, take Alena aside and explain to her that Amar needs very specific instructions, that she best shows him what to do.

She implements this immediately and says:
„Come, Amar“, looks at me and adds „please“.

They play on the wobble mat; Alena makes faces and shouts, „Now I’m a dragon!“ Sina says she is a little fox who is hiding from the dragon because he is afraid of the dragon. Amar watches, Alena asks him, „What would you like to do, Amar?“ Amar wants to fight. She gives him a wooden stick and he hits the mats.

(Instructor’s note: Super, how quickly she learns!)

Alena goes into the next room and says she wants to change and comes back with a red cloth band. Amar, looking frightened, stops punching and only continues to fight when the dragon has run past him. Then Sina wants to be the dragon.

While Sina holds on to a wooden stick with Alena, Alena tells the story of Little Red Riding Hood. „And now we’re going to get balls and skittles,“ she says. I suggest this for next time and think that we should now come to a conclusion. Alena says, „Little Red Riding Hood has died.“ Then the children do another familiar closing game and get dressed.

Although the children had a lot of fun, I found this activity very restless. Next time, an outline of the content should be planned in advance. Alena’s address to the children should become friendlier, the commanding tone should disappear from her address over time. Amar needs a lot of praise and personal attention. Alena can ask Sina to demonstrate some things to Amar. She could also ask Sina and Amar for suggestions.

After the gym lesson, I praise Alena and talk to her about my suggestions. I remind her that she suggested that I draw a picture of what could be done on a certain theme. I praise this idea and suggest that we will do this before the next gymnastics lesson.

(Note from the teacher:
It’s good that you immediately have ideas for Alena’s further qualification. It’s like a trainer’s course!)

Planning the second gymnastics lesson

A week later I ask Alena if we can sit down together to plan the next gymnastics lesson. She enthusiastically agrees and we sit down in the office to be undisturbed.

Alena is calm and focused, she wants to do gymnastics with ropes. I emphasise that she should now only think about activities with ropes. Alena: „Too heavy, I’d rather use balls.“ That’s typical for Alena: if she doesn’t have an idea right away, she’d rather leave it alone. I grin at her, shake my head, she grins back and I say, „What do you think of ropes?“

Note from the course instructor:
Great reaction from both of you!

And now she has five suggestions at once: Horse – dog – rope from the ceiling (but we haven’t) – put rope on the ground and jump over it, walk, run – wild chickens.
Alena draws her suggestions on cards to take to the gym.

Memory card: Playing horse

I explain to her that she should pay attention to what suggestions the two children make for gymnastics with ropes. She then has to respond to them so that the children also enjoy gymnastics and like going to the gym with her. Alena answers: „Then I say: go ahead. But if they do it wrong, I show Amar properly.“ I agree and ask her which of the two children can do gymnastics better. Alena: „Amar doesn’t look right, that’s why he can’t do it.“

We talk again about how important praise is for Amar. She should also have a card to remind her to praise. She says she can write her name, then she knows to praise. I am gobsmacked and let it stand.

Second gymnastics lesson

In the gym, the children get changed and I show Alena their painted cards: dog, horse, ladder, praise – she then usually says, „You did a nice job.“

I ask Alena to fetch the ropes from the next room. „Sina is a girl, she get the red one. Amar is a boy, he get the blue.“

„We’re going to play horse!“ All three of them run through the hall at a gallop, whinnying and waving their ropes. Then Amar pulls his rope behind him as a snake. Alena, alerted to this by my hand signal, immediately says, „We’ll all make a snake like Amar!“

Then Alena tries to step on Amar’s rope, he is anything but enthusiastic about it. I tell Alena to explain this kind of game of tag. She does that very well and the three of them play it for a while.

I show Alena her cards so that she can choose another game. Sina looks over her shoulder and says, „Tie the rope around your belly.“ Alena: „Yes, you are a dog, Sina. Get on all fours!“ She ties the rope around her and leads her around the room, Sina crawls around barking. Amar also crawls off straight away and I tie the rope around him. „You’ve already done that really well!“ says Alena – without me showing her the praise card. Amar beams: „Or cat!“ he answers and meows. „Or do you want to be a frog?“ asks Alena. „No!“ roars Amar. He is a wild cat and has a lot of fun. He says: „Sina’s turn!“ Sina jumps like a frog, I show the praise card and Alena praises: „You did that nicely, Sina.“

Now Alena suggests building a ladder. While Sina actively helps, Amar looks on with interest. I encourage Alena to lay down a rope together with Amar. They walk, hop and crawl over the ladder in different variations. Without prompting, Alena praises again and again.

After our balloon farewell game, the children get dressed and Alena says, „Amar was really good today, wasn’t he?“ And I confirm: „But you helped him really well, Alena. You did a nice job!“ We smile.

I ask Sina and Amar if Alena is a good gym teacher. Sina: „Yessss!“ – Amar: „It was fun!“
When asked if they want to do gymnastics with Alena again next week, Sina answers, „Yes, but only Amar and I!“ Amar also wants to do gymnastics again. Alena looks very pleased.

I praise Alena again for taking Amar into consideration, praising him a lot and that’s why he did particularly well today.

It was really a calm, structured situation.

Planning the third gym lesson

I go with Alena to the materials room in the gym. She decides on a gymnastics lesson with scarves. Her suggestions come without any hesitation:

    • Put the cloth down, stand on it and slide around the room,
    • Swinging the cloth,
    • Putting the ball on the cloth, carrying it and jumping,
    • Putting the cloth over your head,
    • Tie a buccaneer headscarf (dress up),
    • Tuck the cloth into the trousers, run away, one child is the catcher,
    • Run while keeping the cloth hovering on the chest.

Reminder card: Balancing the scarf on the head

Reminder card: Game: Catcher must grab scarf.

I remind her how important praise is for Amar. While drawing the cards, she draws a smiley face in the side view and wants to know how to write „praise“.

Reminder card: Praise (in German: Lob)

Then she also wants to draw a sad smiley to show the children when they are „not good“. We talk again about the different abilities of people, about talents and deficits. I emphasise that everyone has strengths too! I remind her that Amar knows all the makes of cars, that he was the only child who could still complete a new spell. However, he has problems repeating very simple things spontaneously and that he depends on her help in these cases.

When I ask Alena if she thinks Amar realises that he can’t do many things as well as other children, she answers yes. So we don’t need to tell him or show him.

Only praise gives him courage.

Alena puts the cards away, she is done.

Third gymnastics lesson

Alena is the last to arrive at the group in the morning and makes a decidedly bad-tempered impression. Nevertheless, she asks first if we are going to do gymnastics now. She has to wait a little longer and goes to the painting table.

In front of the gym, she wants to have the key and unlock the door herself. She lets me help her open the door. She immediately helps Amar to change, which he gladly accepts. He can do it on his own, but it takes forever. I don’t ask whether Alena helps him to save time or out of helpfulness. I don’t want to overdo it with criticism.

When the three of them have moved, Alena looks at me grimly. When I ask her what she has thought of for today, she says she doesn’t remember. I point to the cards lying on the windowsill. She takes the cards, looks at them, goes into the next room and gets the box with the cloths.

„Do you like to ride with cloths?“ she says, turning to Sina. Sina starts immediately, I seek eye contact with Alena and draw her attention to Amar with a movement of my head. She looks through me. I raise my eyebrows questioningly. She holds eye contact – but again nothing. „Maybe Amar and Sina have ideas too, Alena!“ I say. „Amar always has baby ideas,“ she replies. Then she turns to Amar: „What do you want to dress up as – please dress up, Amar!“ – „I want to be a buccaneer!“ he says and tries to tie the scarf over his head, while Sina simultaneously slips with her scarf and cries. Alena runs to her concerned and comforts her, I help Amar.

Now Sina wants a skirt. While Sina and Alena are dressing each other up, Amar runs through the hall and shouts, „I’m a buccaneer!“

He sits down on the mat in front of the mirror and says this is his pirate ship. „Amar is my prince,“ says Sina. Alena demands that she wants to be a princess too. Sina would like a veil, but Alena says, „No!“ I explain that veils go well with princesses and Sina gets another scarf. Alena accepts without showing any emotion.

Amar runs through the hall again, shouting that he is a tiger, then a dragon and finally a knight. Several times Alena tries to persuade him to dress up – until Amar sulkily retreats. Alena does not let up. I ask Amar to say loudly to Alena that he does not want to dress up. Amar does so loudly and clearly.

As he walks back to his ship, Alena runs after him. Amar fights back verbally again, collects cloths and brings them to the ship. One thing is clear: for Amar, this hour is really a promotion hour. I only hope for Alena too!?

I draw Alena’s attention to her cards and try to go back to her planning and bring some structure into this lesson. I ask the children to put all the cloths in the box and ask them what else they can do with cloths. Amar throws up a cloth and catches it. Alena praises him – after I show her the praise card. (I would like to emphasise here that she does not sound annoyed or irritated when she is asked to praise).

Then the children quickly do all the exercises:

    • Sina clamps the cloth between her legs and hops (praise card).
    • Alena suggests „catching“ – everyone is the catcher for once.
    • They run through the hall with the clothes on their heads.
    • After looking at her card, Alena fetches balls and they transport them; invent a ball man.

Our carousel game concludes after my prompting. The whole gymnastics lesson lasted 30 minutes.

I found this lesson very exhausting. Alena was in a really bad mood, also for the rest of the day.
I have doubts:
Was she in a bad mood because of our conversation the day before when she wanted to draw the sad smiley?

Note from the course leader:
Did you ask her about it?

Is Alena perhaps overwhelmed with the way the lesson is organised?

However, through our conversations during planning and implementation, we work out forms of social behaviour such as consideration and learning how positive reinforcement works. Alena thinks about these topics and shows me understanding. I have the impression that I am strengthening Alena’s social awareness.

Note from the course leader:
That’s good. Maybe it would be a good idea to have a quiet talk with Alena in which you list all the things she has learned in these gymnastics lessons. I have noticed that you are very gentle with the three of them and try to put yourself in their shoes. These are the best prerequisites for promoting gifted children. If one of Alena’s lessons doesn’t go so well (which happens to us too), that’s not dramatic. The important thing is, if you want to end the gymnastics lessons, that the end is accompanied by a great and harmonious moment (a sense of achievement).

Amar definitely benefits from these lessons. Sina asks daily when she can go gymnastics with Alena again – weekly gymnastics seems to be too little for her. We will spend the whole of next week in an urban forest area. There we will have our, despite all doubts, desired gymnastics lesson under Alena’s guidance in the forest.

Note from the course leader:
According to our feeling, something should now come – in addition , if possible, if necessary, instead of – that not only further develops Alena’s helping social behaviour, but also her expansive one: cooperation with similarly able and quick-to-learn children. She has learnt a lot, but now perhaps feels too set in her ways as the loving, understanding, helping girl.

Another positive thing is that she has realised that you are a good learning guide. And now she has this trust in you that you understand that perhaps it should not be her life to always help slow boys, but rather to steer a rocket – as she expressed in answering the questionnaire?)


See also: Alena, 4;1 years 

You can also follow Alena’s development chronologically, as far as it is documented in the articles:

Alena (5;0) Studies Letters – When Should She Enroll at School? 

The Dead Mother from Pompeii and Crayons for South Africa

Alena (5;2) Gets to Know the Shadow Theatre

Disassembling Electric Devices 

Alena (5;10) and a Small Group Are Becoming Experts in the Learning Workshop 


Date of publication in German: April 2018
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint


Cognitive Advancement at Kindergarten. Gaining Knowledge, Practising the Act of Thinking

by Hanna Vock


The following article was written in 2004 and published in a conference documentation. The occasion was the conference „The competent child. Between educational planning and self-dynamics“. The conference was organised by the Department of Day Care Facilities for Children in the Diocesan Caritas Association for the Archdiocese of Cologne.
The structure „Guideline – Concretisation – Practical Suggestions“ was given by the conference organisers, the contents were provided by me.

Shortly after the publication of the conference documentation, a day care centre director called me and reported that her team had thoroughly worked through the article at a team day. Afterwards, the colleagues unanimously stated that the team now had a much clearer and more uniform understanding of cognitive support and that they wanted to implement many suggestions in their future work or pay more attention to them.

See also: Checklist: Cognitive Advancement

This idea,
to work with the article in a team,
I am happy to pass it on here.

And here the article begins:

Thinking Is Fun
Cognitive Promotion at Kindergarten

What I like to do, I do well. Keeping children having fun, enjoying independent thinking and supporting them in developing their thinking skills is an important and fascinating task for educators in the context of holistic support. Along the way, this can also contribute to the children’s later success at school.

Here, first of all, is a rough overview of the guidelines, which will be fleshed out further below and provided with practical suggestions:

Basic prerequisites for development

1. respectful interest in the children’s thinking as a basic pedagogical attitude
2. good cognitive development needs humour
3. the expression of thoughts needs a trusting atmosphere
4. developing possibilities of expression

Learning conditions for cognitive development

5. cognitive development is embedded in the holistic activities of the children
6. kindergarten teachers identify and plan cognitive development as a specific area of development.
7. cognitive development includes different levels of research, thinking and cognition
8. Cognitive development is best achieved through content that interests the children.
9. cognitive enhancement also means: letting children participate in how others solve problems by thinking.
10. cognitive development includes the teaching and development of cognitive „tools“.

Structural conditions

11. internal differentiation must be possible
12. exploration of the wider environment must be possible
13. cooperation with parents is important

Guideline 1:
Interest in the children’s thinking as a basic pedagogical attitude

Concretisation 1:
Children’s thinking is not visible from the outside. We can assume that every child has interesting thoughts every day.

Practical suggestions:

    • Show interest in the children’s ideas, thoughts and topics, ask about them.
    • Give plenty of time and space to the conversation with the children.

Concretisation 2:

Consider the children’s independent thoughts as an important expression of their learning, their engagement with the environment. The children’s thoughts provide information about their developmental process.

Practical suggestions:

    • Taking children’s independent thinking seriously and valuing it.
    • When children express their ideas and thoughts, we can „pick them up where they are“ with our support impulses.
    • Pick up the children’s ideas, discuss them with them and help them to realise them.
    • The children’s thoughts provide information about how well they understand what is happening in the kindergarten and in their other environment.
    • Include the child’s expressed thoughts in developmental diagnostics.

Concretisation 3:
Accessing children’s thoughts means finding out what moves them cognitively and emotionally.

Practical suggestions:

    • Pay attention to the emotional parts and the cognitive parts of the expressed thoughts.
    • Give the children respectful feedback. Asking questions to make sure they have been understood correctly.

Guideline 2:
Good kognitive development needs humour

Concretisation 1:
Thinking is fun when it is not strained and dogged, but light and easy.

Practical suggestions:

    • Making mistakes must be allowed.
    • Defeats, failures, mistakes do not bring scolding, but comfort.
    • As a kindergarten teacher, deal with your own ignorance, mistakes or failures without embarrassment in front of the children.

Concretisation 2:
Not wanting to know everything beforehand. Thinking and researching always have an open end; surprises are possible and make up a large part of the attraction.

Practical suggestions:

    • For many questions and problems there are various good answers and solutions. No one knows them all. Keep an open mind!
    • Allow fun in discovery and feel it yourself if possible.

Concretisation 3:
Thinking is fun when we are fun while thinking.

Practical suggestions:

    • Create an atmosphere where good-natured jokes and joking have their place. Good jokes train the ability to think. Understanding a joke or even making it up yourself requires grasping the unexpected, the grotesque, the funny about a situation.

Guideline 3:
Expressing thoughts needs a trusting atmosphere

Concretisation 1:

Shy and still insecure children should also be given the opportunity to express their thoughts. For this, the child needs stable trust with the listeners.

Practical suggestions:

    • Do not allow laughing and derogatory remarks.
    • Help children to express their thoughts by being attentive, calm, patient and asking gently.
    • Repeat the insecure child’s statement positively.
    • Encourage shy children to speak if there is a suggestion that they could contribute at this moment.

Concretisation 2:
Even unusual thoughts that deviate from the mainstream may be expressed. For this, the child needs to trust in the kindergarten teacher that she also finds such thoughts important.

Practical suggestions:

    • Challenge deviant, unconventional thoughts.
    • Frequently ask: Could it be completely different, could we do it differently?
    • Validate good unusual ideas.

Guideline 4:
Develop possibilities of expression

Concretisation 1:

Children can only express their thoughts if they have appropriate means of expression. The communication, the conversation, the exchange of ideas and thoughts between child, group and kindergartn teacher is the richer, the more differentiated the possibilities of expression are.

Practical suggestions:

    • Encourage spoken language.
    • Encouraging body language, facial expressions and gestures.
    • Encourage painting and drawing skills.

Guideline 5:
Cognitive promotion is embedded in holistic activities of the children

Concretisation 1:
Every game, every work, every activity has cognitive parts.

Practical suggestions:

    • Children immersed in play, children actively and enthusiastically playing, children thinking do not disturb. They learn intensively.
    • Ensure children have large, undivided periods of time for free play.
    • Help children to implement their own ideas.

Concretisation 2:

Every game, every activity has different phases that require mental activity:
– Emergence of the desire to play and the first idea for a game.
– Possibly contacting other children and advertising the idea.
– Negotiating and concretising the idea, negotiating rules and/or roles.
– Procurement of materials.
– Draw up a plan, decide on a story.
– Acting out the play.
– Overcoming difficulties.
– Introducing new ideas.
– Evaluation of these ideas, decision.
– Action of the game.
– Ending the game (in agreement or in dispute).
– Individual evaluation of the game (was nice / was stupid). An evaluation always takes place, even if the child does not comment on it.
– Reasons for this evaluation.
– (Internal or external) conclusion for further games („I won’t play with him again“, „I can’t do that“, „the game is boring“, etc.).

Practical suggestions:

    • Observe how the children master the different phases.
    • Evaluate what causes good play ideas to fail (again and again?). Work on these phases with the children, talk to them about the observed difficulties, reflect together with them; possibly give concrete help.
    • Work towards the children having as many experiences of success as possible (= beautiful play situations that were worth the effort and encourage them to continue playing).
    • Pay attention to differences in ability: Particularly gifted children can find themselves in a situation in the group where the game ideas, the course of the game and the game results only rarely satisfy them. This reduces their desire to engage in joint play. They need adequate play partners at least some of the time.

Concretisation 3:

The children give each other many impulses. However, this is not enough for the children to sufficiently understand themselves and their environment. The task of the adults, and thus also of the kindergarten teacher, is also and to a large extent to provide additional and well-considered stimuli for the children’s cognitive development.

Practical suggestions:

    • Activities and projects with a high cognitive content are important.
    • Involve experts (parents, grandparents, representatives of various professions and hobbies).
    • Provide materials for cognitive promotion: Thinking and strategy games, experimental material, collections of interesting things, books, reference books, internet, stories, puzzles, games with letters, numbers, abstract shapes….

Guideline 6:
Kindergarten teachers identify and plan cognitive development as a specific area of development.

Concretisation 1:

Cognitive development happens along the way. However, fostering children’s cognitive development requires paying special attention to this area. ‚Thinking tools‘ develop through use.

Practical suggestions:

    • Continually motivate children to reflect on what they have experienced, to question critically, to spin out ideas, to solve difficult tasks and puzzles.

Concretisation 2:

Cognitive promotion includes support in the acquisition of knowledge (factual and experiential knowledge) and the development of thinking skills. Both are important.

Practical suggestions:

    • Check the cognitive parts of games, tasks and other activities to see what new knowledge the children can acquire and to what extent they can use it to practise their thinking.
    • Enrich games and game ideas with additional cognitive stimuli, for example, vary the rules, do not read stories to the end but let the children think up a possible ending.

Concretisation 3:

Children reach very different levels of thinking and general knowledge at pre-school age. This may be due to different stimulation and support in the family and/or differences in giftedness.

Practical suggestions:

    • Determine for each child whether his or her general knowledge is particularly low or also particularly extensive. Give the parents feedback and tips for support.
    • Research for each child which levels of thinking they have mastered. (See Guideline 7.)
    • Formulate developmental goals.

Concretisation 4:

Develop elements for everyday life in the kindergarten that are particularly suitable for cognitive promotion.

Practical suggestions:

    • Regularly look at picture books and tell stories in small groups. Use the pictures and stories as a basis for conversation and ask questions of varying difficulty about the content in the conversations.
    • Frequently stimulate conversations on specific topics in the whole group or in small groups. Examples: „What is snow anyway?“ / „Where do eggs come from?“ / „What do you want for Christmas?“
    • Talk regularly and in detail in the group and in small groups about experiences in the kindergarten.
    • Give detailed information about plans and experiences that lie in the future so that the older children can form a mental image of them, which they can then compare with the real experiences.
    • Have children report on their activities: „How did you do that?“ / „Why did you do it that way?“ This encourages the children to mentally process their actions afterwards.
    • Work out rules for speaking in the group.

Guideline 7:
Cognitive promotion includes different levels of research, thinking and recognising.

Concretisation 1:

Accumulating knowledge and experience.

Practical suggestions:

    • Small or larger projects that aim at a result offer the best guarantee that knowledge and experiences are combined. Knowledge is experienced as applicable. Acquiring new knowledge seems to make sense in order to realise one’s own projects.
    • Projects should be used to ask and think from all sides and to seek new knowledge.

Concretisation 2: 

Understanding logical connections. Make causes and effects conscious and separate them mentally.

Practical suggestions:

    • Inquire in all kinds of situations. Have the children understood cause and effect?
    • Did they really understand why something (came) to be this way and not another way? Or why it has to be that way?

Concretisation 3:

Learning to understand causes and effects of their own behaviour and the behaviour of others. Learning to think strategically. (What can / must I do to achieve a goal?).

Practical suggestions:

    • In children’s assemblies, talk about conflicts, about behaviour and its effects. Offer explanatory patterns that the children can understand.
    • Pay attention to whether a child can already take the point of view of his/her counterpart.
    • Example: Why doesn’t Lisa want to play with Tina anymore? Have they both understood this cognitively?
    • Discuss strategies with children: What could I (Tina) do so that Lisa will play with me again tomorrow?

Concretisation 4:

(Critically) evaluate things and processes. Give reasons for the evaluation.

Practical suggestions:

    • Take children’s evaluations and judgements seriously, value their power of judgement.
    • Encourage children to give evaluations.
    • Children do not always have to justify their evaluations, but they should be able to learn to do so. It increases their ability to influence, they appear competent when they can do it well.

Concretisation 5:
Use imagination; develop own ideas. Think creatively and divergently.

Practical suggestions:

    • A creative thinking process often starts with a good question or a good story. Ask questions that stimulate thinking.
    • Make imaginary journeys.
    • Think up play situations, stories.
    • Find variations: Re-texting songs, changing stories.
    • Use role play and theatre play to develop imagination.

Concretisation 6:
Present own ideas, stories, experiences, put them up for discussion.

Practical suggestions:

    • In order to experience that others find their ideas good, the children should learn to present them well. Some children have a natural talent for this, others need a lot of encouragement and practice.
    • Pay attention to understandable, precise expression, help the children with this.
    • Practise self-confidence (posture, eye contact, use of voice…).
    • Guide the children to be brief in certain situations, to say what is important.
    • Help the children to overcome fear of failure or embarrassment. A good way to do this is to organise a series of small successes.

Concretisation 7:

Learning to think more and more complexly. Complexly grasp several features of situations.

Practical suggestions:

    • In many situations use sentences such as: „But that could also be the reason.“ / „And what does that have to do with it?“ / „But it is also important what the child was thinking.“ / „And the wind, can that also be important in this?“
    • Play games where several features (e.g. colour, shape and size) need to be considered at the same time.

Guideline 8:
Cognitive enhancement is best achieved with content that interests the children.

Concretisation 1:

Of interest are things, activities and topics that are currently significant for the children’s lives.

Practical suggestions:

    • Many things that are related to kindergarten attendance,
    • events in the family,
    • with the imminent start of school,
    • friendships, conflicts, dissatisfaction among the children, etc.
    • and many other things.

Concretisation 2:

Of interest are things, activities and topics that are skillfully and excitingly presented by others (children or adults).
Children can develop their thinking skills on any topic / area of knowledge.

Practical suggestions:

    • Children are curious by nature, they want to understand, grasp, try out, imitate, experience new things.
    • In their work with the children, the kindergarten teachers should focus on things and topics which they themselves are fascinated by. Then they can also engage the children.
    • Look for suitable experts, create a file of experts. Suitable experts are those who are confident in their work, in their field, who are enthusiastic themselves, who can explain things well and simply, who have a sense of humour, who get on well with children, who are likeable to the children.
    • Children who can do something that interests the others and who can show / teach it to the other children are also experts.


Guideline 9:
Cognitive promotion also means: letting children participate in how others solve problems by thinking.

Concretisation 1:

Children learn from other children in the group and from the kindergarten teachers how they use their „thinking tools“.

Practical suggestions:

    • Make it possible for the children to experience their own thinking processes.
    • The kindergarten teacher explains how she came to a conclusion or decision, for example: „At first I was going to do it like this, but then I realised that it doesn’t work like that, so I had to think about it some more…“.
    • Encourage the children to also let their thinking processes come out. Questions like: „How did you come up with that?“ / „How did you think of that?“ / „How do you know?“.
    • The kindergarten teacher lets the children know where she got her information (for example, on a project topic). „I got it from this book.“ / „I called the fire brigade and the man on the phone told me…“.

Guideline 10:
Cognitive enhancement involves teaching and developing cognitive „tools“.

Concretisation 1:

Investigate and explore things.

Practical suggestions:

    • Provide a variety of materials and tools – including things (discarded equipment from parents or from the bulky waste) that can be taken apart. Consider the safety of the children!

Concretisation 2:
Use tools sensibly.

Practical suggestions:

    • Teach the children to use pencils, scissors and glue, for example, but also many other tools sensibly and skilfully, for example scales, the telephone, hammer and pliers…

Concretisation 3:
Make and check assumptions, experiment.

Practical suggestions:

    • Ask the children to make assumptions, for example, about which objects can float and which cannot, and what the reasons might be.
    • Carry out simple scientific or technical experiments with the children; make assumptions that can be checked in the experiment.

Concretisation 4:

Thinking about the future; planning and making plans. Weighing up risks.

Practical suggestions:

    • Thinking together about what can / must be done to achieve a certain goal and in what order it should be done. Consider who can do what best.
    • Consider what could go wrong, what could be difficult and what can be done then.
    • Consider what can be done preventively to avoid mishaps.

Concretisation 5:

Exchange knowledge and ideas, collate, discuss, possibly coordinate.

Practical suggestions:

    • Collect all knowledge on a topic, a task, a problem. Motto: Together we know more.
    • Get to know brainstorming as a method. All ideas are first listened to on an equal footing, even the seemingly crazy and strange ones. Only then is it considered and decided which ideas should be realised.

Concretisation 6:

Ask questions, gather knowledge.

Practical suggestions:

    • It is good for the children to experience how adults make themselves smart by asking questions (role model effect).
    • Children should be made aware at an early age that you don’t have to know everything, but that it is good to know methods for acquiring knowledge in a targeted way. (Ask other people, ask experts, look in books and on the internet).

Concretisation 7:

Record ideas and results. Draw plans.

Practical suggestions:

    • Make first experiences in drawing plans: What is in the outdoor area and where it is; how the rooms are situated one behind the other; the own way to the kindergarten.
    • Draw play plans and bouncy boxes on the floor.
    • Design a table duty roster or similar so that children can „read“ it.
    • Using boxes that can be ticked, record how many days are left until the overnight stay in the kindergarten or until another highlight of the kindergarten year.
    • Create a picture book together from a story that the children have made up themselves, which can be taken to hand again and again – and thus attach great value to the story.
    • Before baking biscuits, draw the recipe so that the children can find their way independently.

Concretisation 8:

    • Actively support early numeracy, literacy and/or writing. These are important cognitive tools – and some children strive to acquire these tools early on their own accord.
    • It frustrates particularly gifted children when parents and kindergarten teachers exclude these areas from support for fear of doing something wrong. Schools must be expected to adapt to the different developmental levels of children.

Practical suggestions:

    • Keep letters and numbers accessible to children from different materials (wood, as puzzles, as magnetic figures…).
    • Write words and sentences that are important in everyday kindergarten life and that might interest the children in large block letters.
    • Tell children who are interested the names of the letters and explain what sound they stand for.
    • Write down words or set counting and arithmetic tasks for children who are interested.
    • Confirm the drawing of letters and numbers as positively as the drawing of, for example, flowers or rockets.
    • Play rhyming games.
    • Look for words beginning with A, O, D, etc.
    • Let children read who can already read. They want to use and build on the newly learned skill.

Guideline 11:
Internal differentation must be possible.

Concretisation 1:
Both intensive discussions and certain offers and project work are best realised when staffing and rooms allow small groups to play and learn together undisturbed.

Practical suggestions:

    • Do small group work whenever possible.
    • Support different group compositions for activities and project work: according to interest, ability, sympathy, prior knowledge…

Concretisation 2:

Provide targeted support for children who think and acquire knowledge particularly slowly and effortfully (and perhaps already reluctantly).

Practical suggestions:

    • Adjust activities and questions to the level and pace of the children so that they achieve success for themselves and do not lose (or perhaps rediscover) the fun of thinking.

Concretisation 3:

Provide targeted support for children who think and aquire knowledge particularly quickly, easily and effectively.

Practical suggestions:

    • Adjust activities and questions to the level and pace of the children so that they are sufficiently challenged and do not lose the fun of thinking.
    • Don’t shy away from particularly challenging activities; for example, demanding roles in drama, difficult experiments, organising birthday parties independently, depending on the children’s talents.

Guideline 12:
Exploring the wider environment must be possible.

Concretisation 1:
The district, the village, the surrounding nature, the nearest forest offer inexhaustible stimuli for the children’s cognitive development.

Practical suggestions:

    • Make many excursions and explorations.
    • Talk intensively and humorously about what you all have seen and experienced.
    • Draw inspiration for further knowledge acquisition from what you and the children have experienced: What did we not understand? What do we still want to find out? Who can we ask?
    • The kindergarten environment is full of experts. Many of them are happy to explain to the children what they are doing if you go and ask nicely. (The forest worker with the tree-clearing machine; the florist who makes bouquets or wreaths; the stonemason next to the cemetery, the old woman who sweeps the pavement…).

Concretisation 2:
Exploratory walks with some children („Let’s see what we discover“) should be possible spontaneously and without difficulties.

Practical suggestions:

    • Parents should know that going out without prior notice is part of the kindergarten’s concept.
    • Opportunities should be able to be used spontaneously. („I saw that the roof is being tiled on the building site.“ / „… that the farmer is just taking the potatoes out of the ground. We can go and pick up potatoes and cook them later.“)

Guideline 13:
Cooperation with parents is important.

Concretisation 1:
Parents of kindergarten children have an overwhelming importance in the cognitive development of their children. What is missed at an early age is difficult to make up for later.

Practical suggestions:

    • Parents should, if necessary, always be reminded of the importance of daily detailed conversations with their children.
    • Parents should always be given tips on what they can / must teach and explain to their children.
    • Books and games from the kindergarten can be borrowed by parents.

Concretisation 2:

In kindergarten we only experience a section of the children’s cognitive abilities and interests.

Practical suggestions:

    • In conversation with parents, kindergarten teachers can add to the picture of the child and his or her cognitive interests. Some children hide certain cognitive abilities (for example, being able to read) or certain interests because they believe that there is no room for it in kindergarten.


Date of publication in German: October 2021
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint.

Kognitive Förderung in der Kita. Wissen gewinnen, Denken trainieren

von Hanna Vock


Der nachfolgende Artikel wurde 2004 geschrieben und in einer Tagungsdokumentation veröffentlicht. Der Anlass war die Tagung „Das kompetente Kind. Zwischen Bildungs(ver)planung und Eigendynamik“. Die Tagung wurde veranstaltet von der Abteilung Tageseinrichtungen für Kinder im Diözesan-Caritasverband für das Erzbistum Köln.
Die Struktur „Leitlinie – Konkretisierung – Praktische Anregungen“ war von der Tagungsleitung vorgegeben, die Inhalte stammen von mir.
2021 wurde der Text von mir leicht überarbeitet.

(Hier finden Sie den ursprünglichen Text in Tabellenform.)

Kurz nach der Veröffentlichung der Tagungsdokumentation rief mich eine Kita-Leiterin an und berichtete, dass sich ihr Team bei einem Team-Tag gründlich durch den Artikel durchgearbeitet habe. Die Kolleginnen haben danach einhellig festgestellt, dass es im Team nun eine viel klarere und einheitlichere Auffassung von kognitiver Förderung gebe und dass sie viele Anregungen in der zukünftigen Arbeit umsetzen bzw. stärker beachten wollen.

Siehe auch: Checkliste: Kognitive Förderung

Diese Idee,
mit dem Artikel im Team zu arbeiten,
gebe ich hier gerne weiter.

Und hier beginnt der Artikel:

Denken macht Spaß
Kognitive Förderung in der Tageseinrichtung für Kinder

Was ich gern tue, tue ich gut. Den Kindern den Spaß, die Freude am eigenständigen Denken zu erhalten und sie bei der Entwicklung ihrer Denkfähigkeiten zu unterstützen, ist eine wichtige und faszinierende Aufgabe für Erzieherinnen und Erzieher im Rahmen einer ganzheitlichen Förderung. Nebenbei kann das auch zum späteren Schulerfolg der Kinder beitragen.

Hier zunächst eine grobe Übersicht über die Leitlinien, die weiter unten konkretisiert und mit praktischen Anregungen versehen werden:

Grundvoraussetzungen für die Entwicklung
1. Respektvolles Interesse am Denken der Kinder als pädagogische Grundhaltung
2. Gute kognitive Förderung braucht Humor
3. Das Äußern von Gedanken braucht eine vertrauensvolle Atmosphäre
4. Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten entwickeln

Lernbedingungen für die kognitive Entwicklung
5. Die kognitive Förderung ist eingebettet in ganzheitliches Tun der Kinder
6. Erzieher*innen erfassen und planen die kognitive Förderung als spezifischen Förderbereich
7. Kognitive Förderung umfasst verschiedene Ebenen des Forschens, Denkens und Erkennens
8. Kognitive Förderung gelingt am besten an Inhalten, die die Kinder interessieren.
9. Kognitive Förderung bedeutet auch: Kinder daran teilhaben lassen, wie Andere Probleme durch Nachdenken lösen
10. Kognitive Förderung umfasst das Vermitteln und Entwickeln von kognitivem „Handwerkszeug“

Strukturelle Bedingungen
11. Innere Differenzierung muss möglich sein
12. Das Erkunden der weiteren Umgebung muss möglich sein
13. Zusammenarbeit mit den Eltern ist wichtig

Und hier beginnen die Konkretisierungen und die praktischen Anregungen: 


Leitlinie 1:
Respektvolles Interesse am Denken der Kinder als Grundhaltung

Konkretisierung 1:

Das Denken der Kinder ist nicht von außen sichtbar. Wir können davon ausgehen, dass sich jedes Kind jeden Tag interessante Gedanken macht.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Für die Ideen, Gedanken und Themen der Kinder Interesse zeigen, danach fragen.
    • Dem Gespräch mit den Kindern viel Zeit und Raum geben.

Konkretisierung 2:

Die eigenständigen Gedanken der Kinder als wichtigen Ausdruck ihres Lernens, ihrer Auseinandersetzung mit der Umwelt auffassen. Die Gedanken der Kinder geben Aufschluss über ihren Entwicklungsprozess.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Das eigenständige Denken der Kinder ernst nehmen und wertschätzen.
    • Wenn Kinder ihre Ideen und Gedanken äußern, können wir sie mit unseren Förderimpulsen „da abholen, wo sie stehen“.
    • Die Ideen der Kinder aufgreifen, sie mit ihnen diskutieren und ihnen helfen, sie zu verwirklichen.
    • Die Gedanken der Kinder geben Aufschluss darüber, wie gut sie das Geschehen im Kindergarten und in ihrer sonstigen Umwelt verstehen.
    • Die geäußerten Gedanken des Kindes in die Entwicklungsdiagnostik einbeziehen.

Konkretisierung 3:

Zugang zu den Gedanken der Kinder finden, heißt zu erfahren, was sie kognitiv und emotional bewegt.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Die emotionalen Anteile und die kognitiven Anteile der geäußerten Gedanken beachten.
    • Den Kindern respektvolle Rückmeldungen geben. Sich durch Rückfragen vergewissern, ob sie richtig verstanden wurden.


Leitlinie 2:
Gute Kognitive Förderung braucht Humor

Konkretisierung 1:

Denken macht Spaß, wenn es nicht angestrengt und verbissen geschieht, sondern leicht und locker.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Fehler machen muss erlaubt sein.
    • Niederlagen, Misserfolge, Irrtümer bringen keine Schelte ein, sondern Trost.
    • Als Erzieher*in mit eigenem Nichtwissen, mit Irrtümern oder Misserfolgen ohne Verlegenheit vor den Kinder umgehen.

Konkretisierung 2:

Nicht alles schon vorher wissen wollen. Denken und Forschen haben immer ein offenes Ende; Überraschungen sind möglich und machen einen großen Teil des Reizes aus.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Für viele Fragen und Probleme gibt es verschiedene gute Antworten und Lösungen. Keiner kennt sie alle. Offen bleiben!
    • Spaß am Entdecken zulassen und nach Möglichkeit selber empfinden.

Konkretisierung 3:

Denken ist lustig, wenn wir beim Denken lustig sind.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Eine Atmosphäre schaffen, in der gutmütige Scherze und Witze ihren Platz haben. Gute Scherze und Witze schulen das Denkvermögen. Einen Witz zu verstehen oder sogar selber auszudenken, setzt voraus, das Unerwartete, das Groteske, das Lustige an einer Situation zu erfassen.


Leitlinie 3:
Das Äußern von Gedanken braucht eine vertrauensvolle Atmosphäre

Konkretisierung 1:

Auch schüchterne und noch unsichere Kinder sollen die Möglichkeit erhalten, ihre Gedanken zu äußern. Dazu braucht das Kind stabiles Vertrauen zu den Zuhörern.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Auslachen und abwertende Bemerkungen nicht zulassen.
    • Kindern beim Ausdrücken ihrer Gedanken durch Aufmerksamkeit, Ruhe, Geduld und behutsames Nachfragen helfen.
    • Die Aussage des unsicheren Kindes positiv wiederholen.
    • Schüchterne Kinder zum Sprechen auffordern, wenn die Vermutung besteht, dass sie jetzt im Moment etwas beitragen könnten.

Konkretisierung 2:

Auch ungewöhnliche, vom Mainstream abweichende Gedanken dürfen geäußert werden. Dazu braucht das Kind das Vertrauen in die Erzieher*in, dass sie auch solche Gedanken wichtig findet.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Abweichende, unkonventionelle Gedanken herausfordern.
    • Häufig fragen: Könnte es auch noch ganz anders sein, könnten wir es auch anders machen?
    • Gute ungewöhnliche Ideen bestätigen.


Leitlinie 4:
Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten entwickeln

Konkretisierung 1:

Kinder können ihre Gedanken nur äußern, wenn sie über angemessene Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten verfügen. Die Kommunikation, das Gespräch, der Ideen- und Gedankenaustausch zwischen Kind, Gruppe und Erzieher*in ist umso reicher, je differenzierter die Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten sind.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Förderung der Lautsprache.
    • Förderung der Körpersprache, der Mimik und Gestik.
    • Förderung der Mal- und Zeichenfähigkeiten.

Leitlinie 5:
Die kognitive Förderung ist eingebettet in ganzheitliches Tun der Kinder

Konkretisierung 1:

Jedes Spiel, jede Arbeit, jede Tätigkeit hat kognitive Anteile.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Ins Spiel versunkene Kinder, aktiv und begeistert spielende Kinder, nachdenkende Kinder nicht stören. Sie lernen intensiv.
    • Kindern große, unzerteilte Zeiträume zum freien Spielen sichern.
    • Kindern helfen, ihre eigenen Ideen umzusetzen.

Konkretisierung 2:

Jedes Spiel, jede Aktivität hat verschiedene Phasen, die geistige Tätigkeit verlangen:
– Aufkommen des Spielwunschs und erste Spielidee.
– Evtl. Kontaktaufnahme zu anderen Kindern und Werbung für die Idee.
– Aushandeln und Konkretisieren der Idee, Aushandeln von Regeln und/oder Rollen.
– Beschaffung von Material.
– Aufstellen eines Planes, Festlegen einer Geschichte.
– Spielhandlung.
– Überwinden von Schwierigkeiten.
– Einbringen neuer Ideen.
– Bewertung dieser Ideen, Entscheidung.
– Spielhandlung.
– Beendigung des Spiels (im Einvernehmen oder im Streit).
– Individuelle Bewertung des Spiels (war schön / war doof). Eine Bewertung findet immer statt, auch wenn sich das Kind nicht dazu äußert.
– Begründung dieser Bewertung.
– (Innere oder äußere) Schlussfolgerung für weitere Spiele („Mit dem spiel ich nicht mehr“, „das kann ich nicht“, „das Spiel ist langweilig“, usw.).

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Beobachten, wie die Kinder die unterschiedlichen Phasen meistern.
    • Beurteilen, woran gute Spielideen (immer wieder?) scheitern. Diese Phasen mit den Kindern bearbeiten, mit ihnen über die beobachteten Schwierigkeiten sprechen, mit ihnen gemeinsam nachdenken; evtl. konkrete Hilfestellung geben.
    • Darauf hinarbeiten, dass die Kinder sich insgesamt möglichst viele Erfolgserlebnisse erspielen (= schöne Spielsituationen, die die aufgewendete Mühe wert waren und zum Weiterspielen reizen).
    • Begabungsunterschiede beachten: Besonders begabte Kinder können in der Gruppe in die Lage geraten, dass die Spielideen, die Spielverläufe und die Spielergebnisse sie nur selten befriedigen. Dies mindert ihre Lust, sich auf gemeinsames Spiel einzulassen. Sie brauchen wenigstens zeitweise adäquate Spielpartner.

Konkretisierung 3:

Viele Impulse geben sich die Kinder gegenseitig. Dies reicht aber für die Kinder nicht aus, um sich selbst und ihre Umwelt hinreichend zu begreifen. Die Aufgabe der Erwachsenen und damit auch der Erzieher*in ist auch und in starkem Maße, zusätzliche und gut überlegte Impulse für die kognitive Entwicklung der Kinder zu geben.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Angebote und Projekte mit hohem kognitivem Anteil sind wichtig.
    • Experten einbeziehen (Eltern, Großeltern, Vertreter diverser Berufe und Hobbys).
    • Materialien zur kognitiven Förderung bereitstellen: Denk- und Strategiespiele, Experimentiermaterial, Sammlungen interessanter Dinge, Bücher, Nachschlagewerke, Internet, Geschichten, Rätsel, Spiele mit Buchstaben, Zahlen, abstrakten Formen…


Leitlinie 6:
Erzieher*innen erfassen und Planen die kognitive Förderung als spezifischen Förderbereich

Konkretisierung 1:

Kognitive Entwicklung passiert nebenbei. Die kognitive Entwicklung der Kinder zu fördern, erfordert aber, diesem Bereich besondere Beachtung zu schenken. Die „Denkwerkzeuge“ entwickeln sich durch Benutzung.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Die Kinder immer wieder zum Nachdenken über Erlebtes, zum kritischen Hinterfragen, zum Ideen ausspinnen, zum Lösen von schwierigen Aufgaben und Rätseln motivieren.

Konkretisierung 2:

Zur kognitiven Förderung gehören die Unterstützung beim Wissenserwerb (Fakten- und Erfahrungswissen) und die Entwicklung der Denkfähigkeit. Beides ist wichtig.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Die kognitiven Anteile von Spielen, Aufgaben und anderen Aktivitäten daraufhin prüfen, welches neue Wissen die Kinder erwerben können und inwieweit sie daran ihr Denken üben können.
    • Spiele und Spielideen mit zusätzlichen kognitiven Anreizen anreichern, zum Beispiel Regeln variieren, Geschichten nicht bis zum Schluss vorlesen, sondern von den Kindern einen möglichen Schluss ausdenken lassen.

Konkretisierung 3:

Die Kinder erreichen im Vorschulalter sehr unterschiedliche Denkniveaus und ein sehr unterschiedliches Allgemeinwissen. Dies kann auf unterschiedliche Anregung und Förderung in der Familie und/oder auf Begabungsunterschiede zurückzuführen sein.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Für jedes Kind feststellen, ob sein Allgemeinwissen besonders gering oder auch besonders umfangreich ist. Den Eltern Rückmeldungen und Tipps zur Förderung geben.
    • Für jedes Kind erforschen, welche Denk-Ebenen es beherrscht. (Siehe Leitlinie 7.)
    • Entwicklungsziele formulieren.

Konkretisierung 4:

Für den Alltag in der Kindertagesstätte Elemente entwickeln, die besonders zur kognitiven Förderung geeignet sind.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Regelmäßiges Bilderbuchbetrachten und Geschichtenerzählen in kleinen Gruppen. Die Bilder und Geschichten als Gesprächsgrundlage nutzen und in den Gesprächen unterschiedlich schwierige Fragen zu den Inhalten stellen.
    • Häufig in der Gruppe oder in Kleingruppen Gespräche zu bestimmten Themen anregen. Beispiele: „Was ist eigentlich Schnee?“ / „Wo kommen die Eier her?“ / „Was wünscht ihr euch zu Weihnachten?“
    • Regelmäßig und ausführlich in der Gruppe und in Kleingruppen über Erlebnisse in der Kindertagesstätte sprechen.
    • Zu Vorhaben und Erlebnissen, die in der Zukunft liegen, ausführliche Informationen geben, damit die älteren Kinder sich im Geiste eine Vorstellung davon machen können, die sie dann mit den realen Erlebnissen vergleichen können.
    • Kinder über ihre Tätigkeiten berichten lassen: „Wie hast du das gemacht?“ / „Warum hast du das so gemacht?“ Das regt die Kinder an, ihr Tun nachträglich noch mal geistig zu verarbeiten.
    • Regeln für das Sprechen in der Gruppe erarbeiten.


Leitlinie 7:
Kognitive Förderung umfasst verschiedene Ebenen des Forschens, Denkens und Erkennens

Konkretisierung 1:

Wissen und Erfahrungen ansammeln.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Kleine oder größere Projekte, die auf ein Ergebnis  hinzielen, bieten beste Gewähr dafür, dass sich Wissen und Erfahrungen miteinander verbinden. Wissen wird als anwendbar erlebt. Erwerb von neuem Wissen erscheint sinnvoll, um die eigenen Vorhaben zu verwirklichen.
    • Projekte sollten genutzt werden, nach allen Seiten zu fragen und zu denken und neues Wissen zu suchen.

Konkretisierung 2: 

Logische Zusammenhänge verstehen. Ursachen und Wirkungen bewusst machen und gedanklich trennen.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • In allen möglichen Situationen nachfragen. Haben die Kinder Ursache und Wirkung verstanden?
    • Haben sie wirklich verstanden, warum etwas so und nicht anders (gekommen) ist? Oder warum das so sein muss?

Konkretisierung 3:

Ursachen und Wirkungen des eigenen Verhaltens und des Verhaltens Anderer verstehen lernen. Strategisch denken lernen. (Was kann / muss ich tun, um ein Ziel zu erreichen?)

Praktische Anregungen:

    • In Kinderversammlungen über Konflikte, über Verhalten und seine Wirkungen sprechen. Erklärungsmuster anbieten, die die Kinder nachvollziehen können.
    • Darauf achten, ob ein Kind schon den Blickwinkel seines Gegenübers einnehmen kann.
    • Beispiel: Warum hat Lisa jetzt keine Lust mehr, mit Tina zu spielen? Haben beide das auch kognitiv verstanden?
    • Mit Kindern Strategien beraten: Was könnte ich (Tina) tun, damit Lisa morgen doch wieder mit mir spielt?

Konkretisierung 4:

Dinge und Vorgänge (kritisch) bewerten. Die Bewertung begründen.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Die Bewertungen und Urteile von Kindern Ernst nehmen, ihre Urteilskraft Wert schätzen.
    • Kinder zum Abgeben von Bewertungen ermutigen.
    • Kinder müssen ihre Bewertungen nicht immer begründen, aber sie sollten lernen können, es zu tun. Es erhöht ihre Einflussmöglichkeiten, sie wirken kompetent, wenn sie es gut können.

Konkretisierung 5:
Fantasie einsetzen; eigene Ideen entwickeln. Kreativ und divergent denken.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Am Anfang eines kreativen Denkprozesses steht oft eine gute Frage oder eine gute Geschichte. Fragen stellen, die zum Denken anregen.
    • Fantasiereisen machen.
    • Spielsituationen, Geschichten ausdenken.
    • Variationen finden: Lieder neu texten, Geschichten verändern.
    • Rollenspiel und Theaterspiel zur Fantasie-Entwicklung nutzen.

Konkretisierung 6:
Eigene Ideen, Geschichten, Erlebnisse präsentieren, zur Diskussion stellen.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Um zu erleben, dass Andere ihre Ideen gut finden, sollten die Kinder lernen, sie gut darzustellen. Manche Kinder haben dafür ein Naturtalent, andere brauchen viel Ermutigung und Übung.
    • Auf verständliche, präzise Ausdrucksweise achten, den Kindern dabei helfen.
    • Selbstbewusstes Auftreten üben (Körperhaltung, Blickkontakt, Stimmeinsatz…)
    • Die Kinder anleiten, sich in bestimmten Situationen kurz fassen, das Wesentliche zu sagen.
    • Den Kindern helfen, Angst vor Versagen oder Blamage zu überwinden. Ein gutes Mittel dafür: eine Serie kleiner Erfolgserlebnisse organisieren.

Konkretisierung 7:

Immer komplexer denken lernen. Mehrere Merkmale von Situationen komplex erfassen.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • In vielen Situationen Sätze gebrauchen wie: „Das könnte aber auch daher kommen.“ / „Und was hat das damit zu tun?“ / „Aber es ist doch auch wichtig, was sich das Kind dabei gedacht hat.“ / „Und der Wind, kann der dabei auch wichtig sein?“
    • Spiele spielen, bei denen mehrere Merkmale (z.B. Farbe, Form und Größe) gleichzeitig berücksichtigt werden müssen.


Leitlinie 8:
Kognitive Förderung gelingt am besten an Inhalten, die die Kinder interessieren.

Konkretisierung 1:

Von Interesse sind Dinge, Tätigkeiten und Themen, die für das Leben der Kinder aktuell bedeutsam sind.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Vieles was mit dem Kindergartenbesuch zusammenhängt,
    • mit Ereignissen in der Familie,
    • mit der bevorstehenden Einschulung,
    • mit Freundschaften, Konflikten, Unzufriedenheiten unter den Kindern
    • und vieles andere.

Konkretisierung 2:

Von Interesse sind Dinge, Tätigkeiten und Themen, die von Anderen (Kindern oder Erwachsenen) gekonnt und spannend dargebracht werden.
Kinder können an jedem beliebigen Thema / Wissensgebiet ihre Denkfähigkeiten weiterentwickeln.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Kinder sind von Natur aus neugierig, sie wollen verstehen, begreifen, ausprobieren, nachahmen, Neues erfahren.
    • Die Erzieher*in sollte sich in ihrer Arbeit mit den Kindern auf Dinge und Themen konzentrieren, die sie selbst faszinieren. Dann kann sie auch die Kinder mitreißen.
    • Geeignete Experten suchen, eine Expertenkartei anlegen. Geeignet sind Experten, die ihre Tätigkeit, ihr Feld sicher beherrschen, selbst begeistert sind, gut und einfach erklären können, Humor haben, mit Kindern gut in Kontakt kommen, den Kindern sympathisch sind.
    • Auch Kinder, die etwas können, was die anderen interessiert, und die es den anderen Kindern zeigen / beibringen können, sind Experten.


Leitlinie 9:
Kognitive Förderung bedeutet auch: Kinder daran teilhaben lassen, wie Andere Probleme durch Nachdenken lösen.

Konkretisierung 1:

Die Kinder lernen von anderen Kindern der Gruppe und von den Erzieher*innen, wie diese ihre „Denkwerkzeuge“ benutzen.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Eigene Denkprozesse für die Kinder erfahrbar machen. Die Erzieher*in erklärt, wie sie zu einer Schlussfolgerung oder Entscheidung gekommen ist, zum Beispiel: „Erst hatte ich vor, das so zu machen, aber dann habe ich gemerkt, dass es so gar nicht geht, und da musste ich weiter überlegen…“
    • Die Kinder ermutigen, auch ihre Denkvorgänge nach außen zu lassen. Dafür helfen Fragen wie: „Wie bist du darauf gekommen?“ / „Wie hast du dir das gedacht?“ / „Woher weißt du das?“
    • Die Erzieher*in lässt die Kinder wissen, woher sie selbst ihre Informationen (zum Beispiel zu einem Projektthema) bezogen hat. „Das habe ich aus diesem Buch.“ / „Ich habe bei der Feuerwehr angerufen, und da hat mir der Mann am Telefon erzählt…“


Leitlinie 10:
Kognitive Förderung umfasst das Vermitteln und Entwickeln von kognitivem „Handwerkszeug“.

Konkretisierung 1:

Dinge untersuchen und erforschen.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Vielfältiges Material und unterschiedliche Werkzeuge bereit stellen – auch immer wieder Dinge (ausrangierte Geräte von Eltern oder vom Sperrmüll), die auseinander genommen werden dürfen. Sicherheit der Kinder bedenken!

Konkretisierung 2:
Werkzeuge sinnvoll benutzen.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Die Kinder anleiten, zum Beispiel mit Stiften, Schere und Klebstoff, aber auch mit vielen anderen Geräten sinnvoll und geschickt umzugehen, zum Beispiel mit Waagen, mit dem Telefon, mit Hammer und Zange…

Konkretisierung 3:
Vermutungen anstellen und überprüfen, experimentieren.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Die Kinder auffordern, Vermutungen anzustellen, zum Beispiel darüber, welche Gegenstände schwimmen können und welche nicht und woran das liegen könnte.
    • Einfache naturwissenschaftliche oder technische Experimente mit den Kindern durchführen; Vermutungen anstellen, die man im Experiment überprüfen kann.

Konkretisierung 4:

In die Zukunft denken; planen und planvoll vorgehen. Risiken abwägen.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Gemeinsam überlegen, was getan werden kann / muss, um ein bestimmtes Ziel zu erreichen, und in welcher Reihenfolge es getan werden sollte. Überlegen, wer was am besten tun kann.
    • Überlegen, was schief gehen könnte, was schwierig werden könnte und was man dann tun kann.
    • Überlegen, was man vorbeugend tun kann, um Pannen zu vermeiden.

Konkretisierung 5:

Wissen und Ideen austauschen, zusammentragen, diskutieren, evtl. abstimmen.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Zu einem Thema, einer Aufgabe, einem Problem alles Wissen zusammentragen. Motto: Zusammen wissen wir mehr.
    • Brainstorming als Methode kennenlernen. Alle Ideen werden erstmal gleichberechtigt angehört, auch die scheinbar verrückten und seltsamen. Erst danach wird überlegt und entschieden, welche Ideen verwirklicht werden sollen.

Konkretisierung 6:

Fragen stellen, Wissen sammeln.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Es ist gut für die Kinder, wenn sie erleben, wie die Erwachsenen sich durch Fragenstellen schlau machen (Vorbildwirkung).
    • Kinder sollten früh damit vertraut gemacht werden, dass man nicht alles wissen muss, dass es aber gut ist, wenn man Methoden kennt, um sich Wissen gezielt zu verschaffen. (Andere Menschen fragen, Experten fragen, in Büchern und im Internet nachsehen.)

Konkretisierung 7:

Festhalten von Ideen und Ergebnissen. Pläne zeichnen.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Erste Erfahrungen im Zeichnen von Plänen machen: Was es alles im Außengelände gibt und wo das steht; Wie die Räume hintereinander liegen; der eigene Weg zum Kindergarten.
    • Spielpläne und Hinkelkästchen malen.
    • Einen Tischdienstplan oder ähnliches so gestalten, dass Kinder ihn „lesen“ können.
    • Mit Kästchen, die angekreuzt werden können, aufzeichnen, wie viele Tage es noch sind bis zur Übernachtung im Kindergarten oder bis zu einem anderen Höhepunkt des Kindergartenjahres.
    • Aus einer von Kindern selbst erdachten Geschichte gemeinsam ein Bilderbuch erstellen, das immer wieder zur Hand genommen werden kann –  und so der Geschichte einen großen Wert beimessen.
    • Vor dem Plätzchenbacken das Rezept aufmalen, so dass die Kinder sich selbstständig orientieren können.

Konkretisierung 8:

Frühes Rechnen, Lesen und/oder Schreiben aktiv unterstützen. Es sind wichtige kognitive Werkzeuge – und manche Kinder streben aus eigenem Antrieb früh danach, sich diese Werkzeuge anzueignen.
Es frustriert besonders begabte Kinder, wenn Eltern und Erzieher*innen aus Angst, etwas falsch zu machen, diese Bereiche aus der Förderung ausklammern. Von der Schule muss man erwarten können, dass sie sich auf unterschiedliche Entwicklungsstände von Kindern einstellt.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Buchstaben und Zahlen aus verschiedenen Materialien (Holz, als Puzzle, als Magnetfiguren…) für die Kinder zugänglich halten.
    • Worte und Sätze, die im Kindergartenalltag wichtig sind und die Kinder interessieren könnten, in großen Blockbuchstaben schreiben.
    • Kindern, die sich dafür interessieren, die Namen der Buchstaben sagen und erklären, für welchen Laut sie stehen.
    • Kindern, die sich dafür interessieren, Wörter aufschreiben oder Zähl- und Rechen-Aufgaben stellen.
    • Das Malen von Buchstaben und Zahlen genauso positiv bestätigen wie das Malen von zum Beispiel Blumen oder Raketen.
    • Reimspiele machen.
    • Wörter suchen, die mit A, O, D, usw. beginnen.
    • Kinder, die schon lesen können, lesen lassen. Sie wollen die neu erlernte Fähigkeit nutzen und ausbauen.


Leitlinie 11:
Innere Differenzierung muss möglich sein.

Konkretisierung 1:
Sowohl intensive Gespräche wie auch bestimmte Angebote und Projektarbeiten sind am besten zu verwirklichen, wenn Personalbesetzung und Räume es erlauben, dass kleine Gruppen ungestört zusammen spielen und lernen.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Kleingruppenarbeit machen, wann immer es möglich ist.
    • Bei Angeboten und Projektarbeiten unterschiedliche Gruppenzusammensetzungen unterstützen: nach Interesse, nach Fähigkeiten, nach Sympathie, nach Vorwissen…

Konkretisierung 2:

Die Kinder gezielt fördern, die besonders langsam und mühevoll (und vielleicht schon ungern) denken und Wissen erwerben.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Aktivitäten und Fragen auf das Niveau und das Tempo der Kinder einstellen, damit sie für sich Erfolge erzielen und den Spaß am Denken nicht verlieren (oder vielleicht auch wiederfinden).

Konkretisierung 3:

Die Kinder gezielt fördern, die besonders schnell, leicht und effektiv denken und neues Wissen erwerben.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Aktivitäten und Fragen auf das Niveau und das Tempo der Kinder einstellen, damit sie genügend herausgefordert werden und den Spaß am Denken nicht verlieren.
    • Keine Scheu vor besonders anspruchsvollen Angeboten; zum Beispiel anspruchsvolle Rollen beim Theaterspiel, schwierige Experimente, Geburtstagsfeier selbstständig organisieren, je nach den Talenten der Kinder.

Leitlinie 12:
Das Erkunden der weiteren Umgebung muss möglich sein.

Konkretisierung 1:
Der Stadtteil, das Dorf, die umgebende Natur, der nächste Wald bieten unerschöpfliche Anregungen zur kognitiven Förderung der Kinder.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Viele Ausflüge und Erkundungsgänge machen.
    • Über das Gesehene und Erlebte intensiv und humorvoll reden.
    • Aus dem Erlebten Anregungen für weiteren Wissenserwerb ziehen: Was haben wir nicht verstanden? Was wollen wir noch rausfinden? Wen können wir fragen?
    • Die Umgebung der Kita ist voller Experten. Viele von ihnen erklären den Kindern gerne, was sie da gerade tun, wenn man hingeht und freundlich fragt. (Der Waldarbeiter mit der Baumrodungsmaschine; die Floristin, die Blumensträuße oder Kränze bindet; der Steinmetz neben dem Friedhof, die alte Frau, die den Bürgersteig fegt…)

Konkretisierung 2:
Erkundungsgänge mit einigen Kindern („Mal gucken, was wir entdecken“) sollten spontan und ohne Schwierigkeiten möglich sein.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Die Eltern sollten wissen, dass das Rausgehen auch ohne Vorankündigung zum Konzept der Kita gehört.
    • Gelegenheiten sollten spontan genutzt werden können. („Ich habe gesehen, dass auf der Baustelle gerade das Dach gedeckt wird. / … dass der Bauer gerade die Kartoffeln aus der Erde holt. Wir können Kartoffeln aufsammeln gehen und nachher kochen.“)

Leitlinie 13:
Zusammenarbeit mit den Eltern ist wichtig.

Konkretisierung 1:
Die Eltern von Kindergartenkindern haben eine überragende Bedeutung für die kognitive Entwicklung ihrer Kinder. Was im frühen Alter versäumt wird, ist später nur schwer aufzuholen.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Eltern sollten, falls nötig, immer wieder auf die Bedeutung täglicher ausführlicher Gespräche mit ihren Kindern hingewiesen werden.
    • Eltern sollten immer wieder Tipps erhalten, was sie ihren Kindern beibringen und erklären können / müssen.
    • Bücher und Spiele aus dem Kindergarten können von Eltern ausgeliehen werden.

Konkretisierung 2:

Im Kindergarten erleben wir nur einen Ausschnitt der kognitiven Fähigkeiten und Interessen der Kinder.

Praktische Anregungen:

    • Im Gespräch mit den Eltern können Erzieher*innen das Bild vom Kind und seinen kognitiven Interessen ergänzen. Manche Kinder verbergen bestimmte kognitive Fähigkeiten (zum Beispiel Lesen können) oder auch bestimmte Interessen, weil sie glauben, dass im Kindergarten dafür kein Raum ist.


Datum der Veröffentlichung: Oktober 2021
Copyright © Hanna Vock, siehe Impressum.