Cognition and learning

Children with cognition and learning difficulties may learn at a slower pace to other children in their year group. Children are likely to need support across all areas of need and so activities designed to support communication or social skills will also support the development of cognition and learning.

The following activities are designed to stimulate cognition and learning in the home environment and local community. You are not expected to complete all of the activities but to choose the ones that you are drawn to and interested in. It is hoped that by engaging in these activities you will begin to recognise other opportunities for supporting cognition and learning.


 

What can you buy?

This activity supports numeracy skills. Number and mathematics does not need to be difficult - by using everyday activities such as shopping you will be developing your understanding of number and calculation.

What you will learn
You will learn the value of money through calculating how much you can buy with your money and what might be left to spend.

What you will need

  • Shopping list
  • Money

What you will do

1. With your parents agreement decide what you want to buy and how much money you have
2. Go to the shop
3. Look at the prices on the items you want
4. Calculate how much they cost altogether
5. Do you have enough money, if not you will have to put something back!
6. Calculate how much money you have left

Implementation tips
This activity can be done at home if you wish – have a look at the products you have at home and how much they might cost.

Extension activity
Think of your favourite treat or perhaps a meal. What ingredients will you need to make this and how much will it cost? Write a shopping list and the cost against each item and then calculate the total amount of money you would need.

Tips for parents
Encourage your child to take part in your household shopping activities. This promotes their independence and engagement with the social world.

There are links here to other domains of learning such as social skills as they engage with the shopping experience, the cashier, and other shop customers.

 

Mapping where you live

This activity supports cognitive skills, through a developing knowledge of the world around you, creativity and literacy.

What you will learn
You will learn more about your home town, the key buildings and where they are in relation to each other.

What you will need

  • Paper and colouring pencils or perhaps some paint
  • You may wish to use cardboard boxes if you go large scale!
  • You may also need scissors, glue or tape if you want to develop a 3D model

What you will do

1. Go for a walk around your town
2. Take a note of where things are, street names and the names of key places
3. At home draw a map of your town putting your home at the centre
4. You may wish to go large or even 3D and use cardboard boxes to represent key buildings

Implementation tips
Start off small with a simple map and then you can develop your plan into something bigger. Ensure you have space and time to research and plan your map perhaps over several days.

Extension activity
Find out a little more about the history of your home town and key people. Add notes to your map or model to summarise your findings.

Tips for parents
Encourage your child to be independent in this activity. Praise their concentration and attention to detail as these are skills that will support their cognitive learning skills into the future. There are links here to other domains of learning such as literacy skills as they research their town and make notes to add to their model. Mapping is also a way of developing mathematical skills as they think about size, space, and the relationships between buildings and the position on their map.

 

Lego modelling

This activity supports cognitive skills, through a developing awareness of space, shape and measures, as well as communication skills and literacy.

What you will learn
You will learn how to develop a set of instructions that have enough detail for someone else to replicate your model.

What you will need

  • Lego or similar building blocks
  • Pen and paper
  • Camera if you wish to photograph your finished product

What you will do

1. Design and build a model from Lego or a similar set of blocks
2. You may wish to take a photograph of the finished product
3. Take note of how many blocks you need, their size, colour and what you do at each stage of constructing your model
4. Use your notes to develop a set of instructions for a friend or family member
5. Can they use your instructions to build the same model?
6. Refine your instructions until they can

Implementation tips
You may want to research how companies such as Lego present their instructions as a guide.

Extension activity
Develop this activity for bigger and more complex structures. You may wish to add drawings or photographs to support your instructions.

Tips for parents
Encourage your child to be independent in this activity. Praise their concentration and attention to detail as these are skills that will support their cognitive learning skills into the future. There are links here to other domains of learning such as literacy skills as they research how others such as Lego produce their instructions, and also in their own use of writing for a purpose. Writing instructions in this way supports sequencing skills which in turn support mathematical skills.

 

Adventure land

This activity supports literacy skills, through engaging in an adventure where objects in the environment become props for your story.

What you will learn
You will learn to use your imagination to create a fantasy adventure of your choosing. Your story comes alive as you explore your environment and think about what might happen next.

What you will need

  • Your imagination
  • Props from your adventure
  • A camera
  • Recording device

What you will do

1. A door becomes the portal to a magical fantasy land
2. Decide on how long you have to complete your adventure and return to safety before the portal closes
3. On your adventure collect props
4. Narrate what is happening
5. Get back through the portal before it closes and you are shut in fantasy land forever

Implementation tips
Let your imagination run wild. In fantasy land anything might happen (a stick might become a wizards wand or a sword perhaps, a flower petal becomes a rescue boat, a stream becomes a raging torrent to negotiate).

Extension activity
Why not video your adventure and then when you are home you can enjoy your film.

Tips for parents
You might want to accompany your child and prompt them to be imaginative and think about what might be. Not only does this activity support creativity and literacy skills it also encourages children to think outside of the boundaries of every-day life, a skill which can be quite challenging for some!

 

Bingo

This activity supports mathematical skills, through playing a card game an understanding of number is developed as well as some basic mathematical skills such as adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying.

What you will learn
You will learn to develop your mathematical skills in a fun and engaging way.

What you will need

  • Paper, card and pen
  • Colouring pencils
  • Scissors

What you will do

1. Choose 10 characters, animals or other objects
2. Assign a number between 1 and 10 to each
3. Cut your card into 10 rectangles the size of a playing card
4. On each card draw your animal and write down the number
5. On a separate sheet of paper draw up a grid
6. Add a number to each square
7. Shuffle the cards and then draw the first two
8. +, -, x, or / these two numbers to make one of the numbers in your grid
9. Shade the number in when you have made it
10. You can play this on your own or with a friend
11. The first one to colour in all their bingo squares is the winner!

Implementation tips
Start off small and as you get more confidence you can grow the game with more cards and different numbers.

Extension activity
You can increase the number of cards you play with and increase or decrease the number of squares in your bingo grid.

Tips for parents
You could introduce this activity by playing with your child until they get more confident. There are links here to other domains of learning such as social development through playing the game with others, understanding the emotions of winning and losing.

Download these activities as a printable PDF