A list of activities to develop cognitive skills in children

Updated June 16, 2017

Cognitive development includes the ways children solve problems and learn. A child builds knowledge and learns about her environment as she develops cognitively. Memory, concentration, attention, perception, imagination and creativity are all key components of cognitive development. Children need to meet specific cognitive developmental milestones. Certain activities can encourage these types of cognitive skills in children.


Language skills are one component of cognitive development. Reading activities are crucial for helping children to develop these skills. Reading helps to build vocabulary and increases verbal ability. Parents can encourage these skills by reading to their children from the time they are infants. As children grow, parents can continue to read to and with them, encouraging children to read out loud as their abilities develop. Interacting through books can promote verbal skills as well as visual development.


Puzzles and sorting games are activities that promote concentration and memory. Puzzle activities can include traditional jigsaw puzzles that are made for all age and ability levels. Toys that focus on construction, such as Lincoln Logs and blocks, can also promote memory as well as concentration. For younger children matching games can help to promote memory. For instance, with pairs of cards mixed up and turned upside down a child can work to flip the cards and make matches by memory.


Math skills are also a component of cognitive development. Parents can encourage the development of math skills by talking about numbers with children as they do everyday activities. When parents talk to their children about numbers from an early age, children do better in math once they enter school. Parents can play simple number games with their children, such as counting items. For instance, when shopping a parent can count the number of groceries in the cart along with the child. Parents can also encourage math by playing games and doing puzzles that are focused on numbers. Reading math-based books that include numbers and counting can also help.


Art and music can also help to encourage cognitive development. Creative activities can help with many types of learning and also build important connections in the brain. For example, learning music can increase memory and reading abilities. The use of songs and rhymes can also help with language skills.

Parents can do music-focused activities in many ways. Songs and music-based activities are often popular with toddlers. As children grow older, parents can encourage them to learn a musical instrument. Learning an instrument helps with both math and memory skills.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Rebeca Renata has been writing since 2005 and has been published on various websites. She specializes in writing about clinical social work and social services. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Connecticut as well as a Master of Social Work from the Smith College School for Social Work.