Shovels and Swords: How realistic and fantastical themes affect children's word learning
Weisberg, D. S.
Hirsh Pasek, K.
Golinkoff, R. M.
Weisberg, D. S., Ilgaz, H., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R., Nicolopoulou, A., & Dickinson, D. K. (2015). Shovels and swords: How realistic and fantastical themes affect children's word learning. Cognitive Development, 35, 1-14.
Please cite this item using this persistent URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/11693/12501
Research has shown that storybooks and play sessions help preschool children learn vocabulary, thereby benefiting their language and school readiness skills. But the kind of content that leads to optimal vocabulary learning – realistic or fantastical – remains largely unexplored. We investigate this issue as part of a large-scale study of vocabulary learning in low-income classrooms. Preschoolers (N = 154) learned 20 new words over the course of a two-week intervention. These words were taught using either realistic (e.g., farms) or fantastical (e.g., dragons) storybooks and toys. Children learned the new words in both conditions, and their comprehension knowledge did not differ across conditions. However, children who engaged in stories and play with a fantastical theme showed significantly greater gains in their production knowledge. Reasons for and implications of this result are discussed.