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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL demonstrates a sophisticated vocabulary but also shows that he knows about and is able to apply a complex concept, the water cycle, to the context of the picture book story. But spotting the behaviors of exceptionally bright young children is not always so easy. In a typical early childhood classroom, where children do not yet participate in traditional academic activities such as writing reports, tak- ing notes, solving equations, or taking tests, it may be hard to see that some children are demonstrating advanced cognitive skills and abilities. Also, some- times these skills and abilities are difficult to recognize in children because those who are bored and needing a challenge may misbehave or use materials inappropriately. For example, a teacher invites the children to look at leaves and pinecones using the magnifying glasses at the science center. One child, Jane, eagerly approaches the table and spends ten minutes in quiet concentra- tion studying the objects. However, a few minutes later, Jane is tapping the magnifying glass against the window, distracting other children and in danger of breaking both the magnifying glass and the windowpane. This may be the behavior of an exceptionally bright child who is indeed fascinated by science but needs guidance, conversation, and activities that will extend and deepen her experience at the science table and continue to challenge her to make new discoveries. Of course, not all exceptionally bright children misbehave when they are bored. Some are able to find appropriate outlets for their energy and curiosity and others simply withdraw. There are a few specific behaviors and characteristics, however, that seem to be common among many exceptionally bright children. One is a long atten- tion span, at least for the activities and topics that they are passionate about. For example, one day Jason spends forty-five minutes working alone with snap blocks, creating a chain of shapes that extends from one side of the room to another. It is important to keep in mind that for exceptionally bright children a long attention span is often born out of a passionate interest and insatiable curiosity, not the desire for friendship or to please a teacher and follow the rules. In Jason’s case, the next day, when he is invited by a classmate to build with foam shapes in the block area, he may last for only five minutes before he’s throwing blocks and spinning in circles. This inconsistency is character- istic of an exceptionally bright child whose focus of interest may be so specific and intense that only certain activities will capture his attention for long peri- ods of time. Another indicator that a child is exceptionally bright is a very good mem- ory. An exceptionally bright child may be one who remembers, after a class baking project, the exact quantities of flour, cornmeal, sugar, and baking pow- der used to make the cornbread. Or she may be the one who reminds you that 8 | Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL