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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL when the class visited a farm a year ago, the bus driver’s name was Dan. An especially good memory may also play a role in the abilities of children with advanced language skills. An exceptionally bright child may remember words he has heard only once and use a very large and varied vocabulary in casual conversation. Young children with excellent memories and advanced verbal abilities may sound like little professors when they use sophisticated words like “evaporation” or “hypothesis.” Exceptionally bright children often demonstrate their cognitive abilities in the ways they make connections between ideas and things that are not, for most children, obviously connected. Consider the five-year-old who, when watching his baby brother learn to walk, says, “I know why babies wobble when they learn to walk. They’re so small they can still feel the earth turn- ing.” Though his explanation is incorrect, this child has made an abstract and sophisticated connection between some scientific information he learned about the movement of the earth through space and his observation of his brother moving across his family’s living room. The enjoyment of very rich and complex pretend play may also be an indicator of exceptional abilities. For example, a child who is able to lead and orchestrate an intricate pretend-play scenario—such as the creation of a world in which ponies vie with bunnies for magical treats, including invis- ible ice cream—indicates an exceptional ability for abstract thought, as well as advanced language skills. Children who are exceptionally bright sometimes struggle to make friends and respond appropriately to their peers. But occasionally the child’s social interactions are the arena where a child’s abstract thinking is best demon- strated. A child who is strongly empathic and understanding of other children’s emotions, who displays unusually mature gestures of kindness to others, may do this because she is able to think abstractly, symbolically walking in some- one else’s shoes. The child who seems excessively concerned with fairness and justice, who seems unusually aware of the needs of others, may be able to do so because he has the cognitive ability to see issues and perspectives that most others do not. Children Who Excel in One Specific Curriculum Area Sometimes the children who are easiest to identify as exceptionally bright are those who demonstrate a clear interest and ability in one specific curriculum area, such as language, reading, math, or science. Perhaps you’ve met one of these children in your classroom: Characteristics of Exceptionally Bright Children COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL | 9