Characteristics of Development: Station Activities

After teaching about P.I.E.S: The Areas of Development, I move directly into the characteristics of development because they tend to go hand in hand. This concept seems to be a bit more difficult for my students to wrap their brains around, so to help them better understand, I have interactive stations set up throughout the room that they work through, completing activities that mirror each of the characteristics.  Students must utilize their notes to help discern between the answers. Students enjoy completing the activities and after discussing correct responses and showing the connections, most students have an easier time with the practice scenarios that follow.


  • Ask students to answer the true-false questions on Google Forms.  The questions are as follows: #1: Development is similar for everyone.  #2: Development builds on earlier learning. #3: Development proceeds at an individual rate. #4: Development is interrelated. #5:  Development is continuous throughout life. Go over correct answers…all are TRUE!


  • iPads or Laptops
  • Google Forms (optional)
  • Materials for Stations


  • Students participate in a human match game to see if they know what characteristics/terms mean.  Students select a card randomly and then they have to match the term or characteristics with it’s definition or description.
  • Go over the answers and take notes. I further explain, giving examples to help them better understand.
    • Development is similar for everyone means that race, religion, heritage, education or economic status do not matter as we all go through the same steps in pretty much the same order/way. Notice the key word is similar, not exact so some slight variations may exist. For example, babies lift their heads before they lift their body and stand before walking.
    • Development builds on earlier learning means that just as we cannot build a house from the roof down, we do not learn from the complex to the simple. It’s just the opposite and is sequential, orderly and predictable. For example, we must know our letters before we can read words and sounds before we can speak language.
    • Development proceeds at an individual rate means that we will not all learn to do things at the same rate of speed and will vary from one person to the next. I’m sure if we took a poll of the age each person in the room walked, we would see a lot of different ages. This concept can also be applied to other areas such as knowledge and speed of using technology…some are faster, some slower!
    • Development is interrelated means that many changes take place physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially all at once like threads that are interwoven. All of the PIES work together to make us complete.
    • Development is continuous throughout life means that development begins at birth and continues until death.  We never stop learning, however, there are critical windows or periods when growth and development are more optimal.  For example, the optimal window for learning a foreign language is young and that window closes around age twelve.  Does that mean you can’t learn a foreign language beyond that? No, it simply means that it was easier to learn in the window and will take more effort and practice to learn beyond the window, but it can be done!
    • Explain the additional terms: cephalocaudal, proximodistal and differentiation.  Cephalocaudal means that babies develop from head to toe because the body is top heavy at birth and the head more developed than the lower body. Proximodistal means that babies develop from the center of the body outward; the core of the body before the arms and their arms before their hands and hands before fingers.  Finally, differentiation means simple to complex which is how babies progress.
  • Set up interactive stations (see below) throughout the room.  Each station matches up with a characteristic of development.  Students must match the station/activity with the characteristics of development it represents after performing it.  Discuss the correct answers before students complete the “Describing Development” scenarios found in the Developing Child student workbook.


Digital Resources

Related Lesson Plan

Photo by Rene Bernal on Unsplash

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