This page aims to clarify some of the terms and psychological thinking used in this site, for intelligent readers who wish to look a bit deeper into the reasoning behind Discovery Boxes.#


This does not refer to driving a car, but simply means picking up and moving objects, using  a pencil etc (small motor skills or fine motor skills) and running around, balancing, riding a bike and climbing (large or gross motor skills). A child with good fine motor skills will have learned the skill of picking up, transferring and using small tools and objects without dropping them. This is how Discovery Boxes improve fine motor skills, by encouraging a child to pick up all the tempting little objects!


Generally speaking, spatial awareness is the recognition of the distance between objects.  More specifically, though, the term “spatial awareness” refers to a person’s ability to judge the location of themselves in relation to the objects around them and is commonly used when discussing stages of child development.


The first stage of child development is commonly known as Sensorimotor.  In this stage, small infants will recognize that they can manipulate an object with their hands and feet.  They will also recognize things according to what they smell or see and can reason, to a degree, regarding cause and effect relationships.  The Sensorimotor stage lasts from 0-2 years of age.
The second stage is sometimes known as the Preoperational stage.  In this stage, children are learning to identify specific groups of things like “animals” or “colours.”  This is why (once they have formed words) they might call all women “mama.”  It is during this stage that children begin to recognize their spatial awareness, that is to say their placement in relation to the things around them.

Encouraging the development of spatial awareness is very important because it helps you to deduce things like distance, rate of speed, comparative side, and other things necessary for daily activities like driving.  With reduced spatial awareness, you will probably be clumsier since you have trouble analysing how far down the next step is on the stairs, for example.  Obviously, proficiency with spatial awareness, then, affects motor skills overall, and is therefore extremely important.


Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard, or touched.  it is acquired within the first two years of life, by the end of the sensorimotor stage, and begins to be developed from birth.  Object permanence is one of an infant’s most important accomplishments, as without this concept, objects would have no separate, permanent existence to them. Object permanence is considered to be one of the earliest methods for evaluating working memory.   Some infants are too young to understand object permanence, which explains why they do not cry when their mothers are gone (“out of sight, out of mind”). However, even very small babies show that they recognise their mother as distinct from other women.

According to this view, an infant’s perception and understanding of the world depends on their motor development, which was required for the infant to link visual, tactile and motor representations of objects. According to this view, it is through touching and handling objects that infants develop object permanence.

Child development expert Jean Piaget conducted experiments that collected behavioral tests on infants. Piaget studied object permanence by observing infants’ reactions when a favourite object or toy was presented and then was covered with a blanket or removed from sight. An infant that has started to develop object permanence might reach for the toy or try and grab the blanket off the toy. Infants that have not yet developed this might appear confused. Piaget interpreted these behavioral signs as evidence of a belief that the object had ceased to exist. Reactions of most infants that had already started developing object permanence were of frustration because they knew it existed, but didn’t know where it was. However, the reaction of infants that had not yet started developing object permanence was more oblivious. If an infant searched for the object, it was assumed that they believed it continued to exist.

object permanence is also related to the achievement of self-recognition.

US Navy 100406-N-7478G-346 Operations Specialist 2nd Class Reginald Harlmon and Electronics Technician 3rd Class Maura Schulze play peek-a-boo with a child in the Children's Ward at Hospital Likas

Peek-a-boo is a prime example of an object permanence test.

There are six stages of object permanence. These are:

  1. 0–1 months: Reflex Schema Stage – Babies learn how the body can move and work. Vision is blurred and attention spans remain short through infancy. They aren’t particularly aware of objects to know they have disappeared from sight. However, babies as young as 7 minutes old prefer to look at faces. The three primary achievements of this stage are: sucking, visual tracking, and closing the hand.
  2. 1-4 months:  Babies notice objects and start following their movements. If an object goes out of sight, they continue to look where it was, but for only a few moments. They ‘discover’ their eyes, arms, hands and feet in the course of playing with objects. They respond to familiar images and sounds (including mother’s face) and anticipate  familiar events (such as opening the mouth for a spoon). Their actions become less random and more purposeful.
  3. 4-8 months: Babies will reach for an object that is partly hidden, showing they realise that the whole object is still there. If an object is completely hidden however, the baby makes no attempt to find it. They learn to understand what they are looking at. They act intentionally but tend to do the same thing with the same object. New behaviours are not yet imitated.
  4. 8-12 months:  This is supposed to be the most important stage for the development of the child’s thinking. At this stage the child understands causality and is goal directed. The very earliest understanding of object permanence emerges, as the child is now able to retrieve an object when they seen it being hidden. But they will usually only look for it in the first place they saw it vanish.
  5. 12–18 months: The child acts purposefully to make things happen, and is able to solve new problems. The child is now able to retrieve an object when it is hidden several times while they are looking, but cannot locate it when it is outside their perceptual field.
  6. 18–24 months:  The child fully understands object permanence. They can find something anywhere it is hidden while they watch, as well as reason where it might be if hidden while they aren’t watching. Also, they can understand the concept of items that are hidden in containers. (If a toy is hidden in a matchbox then the matchbox put under a pillow and then, without the child seeing, the toy is slipped out of the matchbox and the matchbox then given to the child, the child will look under the pillow upon discovery that it is not in the matchbox.) The child is able to use ideas and creative thinking to solve problems, including guessing or imagining where hidden things might be.

Activities which help devleop object permanence:

Playing peekaboo

Posting small objects into a container which hides them from view and finding them again, or other ‘hiding’ and ‘finding’ games;

Looking at self in mirror


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