Talking Shape: Parental Language With Electronic Versus Traditional Shape Sorters

Jennifer M. Zosh, Brian N. Verdine, Andrew Filipowicz, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Nora S. Newcombe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


As the traditional toys of the past are quickly being replaced with electronically "enhanced" toys, it is important to understand how these changes impact parent-child interactions, especially in light of the evidence that the richness and variety of these interactions have long-term effects on diverse areas of cognition (Hart & Risley, 1995). Here, we compared the quantity and quality of the language children hear during play with either a traditional (nonelectronic) or an electronic shape sorter designed to teach children about geometric shapes. Spatial toys and spatial language, in particular, were explored since recent work has established that parents' use of spatial language links to children's short- and long-term performance on spatial tasks (Pruden, Levine, & Huttenlocher, 2011), and that spatial skills are relevant to success in learning mathematics and science (Newcombe, 2010). Traditional toys prompted more parental spatial language and more varied overall language than did electronic toys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-144
Number of pages9
JournalMind, Brain, and Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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