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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction  7 The development of empathy is also promoted through exposure to certain social issues that will hopefully make positive impressions in the young and open minds of your primary-grade students. For example, to physically imitate the movements and characteristics of a variety of animals is to imagine what it is like to be those animals. Those of us who wish to see children raised with a healthy respect and compassion for all the world’s creatures can certainly hope that, once our children have imagined what it is like to be the animals, the chil- dren will never be able to imagine a world without them. Cognitive Development It has been said that joy is the most powerful of all mental stimuli. For young children, movement is certainly joyous. Beyond that, however, studies of how young children learn have proven that they especially acquire knowledge experientially—through play, experimentation, exploration, and discovery. For example, when children move over, under, around, through, beside, and near objects and others, they better grasp the meaning of these prepositions and geometry concepts. When they perform a “slow walk” or skip “lightly,” adjectives and adverbs become much more than abstract ideas. When they’re given the opportunity to physically demonstrate such action words as stomp, pounce, stalk, or slither—or descriptive words like smooth, strong, gentle, or enormous—word comprehension is immediate and long lasting. The words are in context, as opposed to being a mere collection of letters. This is what pro- motes emergent literacy and a love of language. Similarly, if children take on high, low, wide, and narrow body shapes, they’ll have a much greater understanding of these quantitative concepts— and opposites—than do children who are merely presented with the words and their definitions. When they act out the lyrics to a verse like “Ten in the Bed” (“There were five in the bed, and the little one said, ‘Roll over’ . . .”), they can see that five minus one leaves four. The same understanding—and fascination— results when children have personal experience with scientific concepts such as gravity, flotation, evaporation, magnetics, balance and stability, and action and reaction. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL