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10 Ideas to Foster the Concept of Object Permanence

Object permanence is when a child understands an object still exists even though it may be out of sight - an important step toward learning to label objects.  When children understand object permanence, they recognize that a label not only is the name of an object, but it represents the object when the object is not present.

Ideas to foster the development of object permanence:

  • Show your child a toy.  Hide the toy as your child watches.  Say "where is the ____?"  Find the toy as the child watches and say "There's the ____."  In the beginning a toy that makes sound may help because while hidden the sound can present a clue for location and existence.
  • Put your hands in front of your child's face.  Say "Where's _____?"  Move your hands away and say "There's _____."  This is like peek-a-boo.
  • Play peek-a-boo saying "Where's _____?" then "There's _____."
  • Hold a blanket or cloth so that it partially covers your face.  Say "Where's Daddy?  Here he is." Be animated! 
  • Hide under a blanket so that it is obvious you are there.  From underneath say, "Where's Mommy?"  Uncover the blanket and say "Here I am.  Here's Mommy."
  • Hide a large object under a smaller cloth so the shape is obvious.  Say "Where's the _____?"  Have the child pull away the cloth and say "There it is.  There's the ____."
  • Place small objects, such as coins, inside a container,  Say, "Where's the money?"  Rattle the coins inside the container and put it down for the child to open.  Say "There's the money."
  • Hide an object under an overturned pail and say "Where's the ____?"  Have the child find the object and say "There's the ____."
  • Hide a small object in your hand and say, "Where's the ____?" Have the child open your hand to find the object and say "There's the ____."
  • Walk around your home finding familiar objects where they usually reside.  For example say, "Where's Sammy's juice?  Oh, there it is.  In the refrigerator."



© Kate Ross, MS, CCC-SLP   (2011)

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