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.