Bloom’s Taxonomy: Defining How Kids Learn

Bloom’s Taxonomy really outlines the different stages of how kids really learn.

ALL children learn differently. Whether you’re an in-classroom (or virtual teacher that’s distance learning) teacher or a homeschooling parent, you’re more than likely going to have differently-abled and differently-learning kids. While there are several ways kids learn, I categorized the four main ways kids learn earlier here.


how kids learn


Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain: How Kids Really Learn

While there are fancy words to explain what all this really means, I’m just going to keep it real simple because that’s how I learn. Bloom’s Taxonomy was created in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom. It was later revised in 2001, to remove Synthesis and add in Create. It’s not really that important to you, but I wanted to clarify which version I’m talking about below. It’s the 2001 revised version.

In laymen’s terms, Bloom’s Taxonomy can be defined as a hierarchy of cognitive skills (or, skills that the brain has) needed to learn anything. I won’t be reviewing Cognitive domains here, but 8 core capacities are

  1. Attention (Sustained)
  2. Inhibition
  3. Pattern Recognition
  4. Processing Speed
  5. Working Memory
  6. Multiple Simultaneous Attention
  7. Category Formation
  8. Flexibility

Going back to Bloom’s, the general idea is that there are degrees of knowing and learning. What does it really mean to learn? Is it just understanding it? Is it applying it? Is it relating to it? Bloom creates a stair-step approach (meaning you can’t get to the last step if you don’t get past the first step) to the learning process itself.

While this is mainly applied in upper elementary and above (think middle and high school), there is still so much to be done about it in our little learners just beginning Kindergarten. They obviously learn and as an educator or parent, it’s your responsibility to understand and assess that learning.

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What is Higher-Order Thinking?

Higher order thinking refers to Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain. In other words, there are several stages or learning. The first three stages refer to Lower Order thinking. The second three stages refer to High Order Thinking. The goal is to get each child to higher order thinking so they can retain and understand the information they just learned.

bloom's taxonomy

The First Level of Bloom’s Taxonomy: Remember

This refers to being able to recall and remember specific facts you just learned. Think of this like memorizing the times table or state capitals. You remembered it, but do you really understand it? I know that E = mc2 but that’s because I remembered it, not because I understand it. For this, you’ll mainly ask questions of comprehension:

Can you identify the characters in the story?

How would you define..?

What is…?

The Second Level of Bloom’s Taxonomy: Understand

When you hit this stage, they are not only able to repeat what you just said, but also explain in their own words. I know this seems like the ultimate goal, right? For kids to just understand what they’re learning? No. This is still considered lower order thinking. Questions in this stage look like this:

Can you describe the setting?

What is the main idea here?

Can you explain what is happening here?

The Third Level of Bloom’s Taxonomy: Apply

In order to be in this stage of learning, kids need to use the information they just learned in a new situation. This means, they have to apply what they learned independently, usually through homework, independent class activities or exercises. Here, they will calculate, illustrate, and experiment.

Draw a scene from the chapter we just read.

How would you change this part of the story?

Why does ______ work?


bloom's taxonomy verbs

The Fourth Level of Bloom’s Taxonomy: Analyze

Here is where we start climbing into higher order thinking. This is where we identify schemas (or patterns), themes, and relationships. Here, you also compare and contrast, but there is a deeper focus into subtext (things not clearly said in the story). Questions here should look like this:

What can you infer by her response?

Why is this part important?

What evidence can you find that …?


The Fifth Level of Bloom’s Taxonomy: Evaluate

This stage is where the student can make judgments and defend the storyline or characters. This is where they “side” with something and argue one way or another. This is important in Socratic discussion.

Predict the end of the story and tell me who is right.

What makes ______ same or different from _____?

What do you think about _____? What reason or proof do you have to support your claim?

The Sixth Level of Bloom’s Taxonomy: Create

Use information to create something new that is applicable to what you just learn. This is the stage, the epitome of learning according to Bloom, where you can really apply what you learned and create something new based on what you learn. For example, if I’m working on diphthongs, I can use this time to ask questions of blending and have kids write out their words. If I taught something like Haikus, then I can take this time to have kids write their own haiku.

Create a 3-D model of what the impact of an asteroid would be if it hit Earth.

What experiment can you do to test your hypothesis and ideas?

What information would you use to support your theory on…?



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blooms taxonomy

Other Resources

Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, Assessing

Taxonomy Wheel

Quick Flip Questions for Bloom’s Taxonomy

Make it Stick


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