Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Interactive play with blocks found to facilitate development of spatial vocabulary

Date:
November 4, 2011
Source:
Temple University
Summary:
Parents and researchers have long speculated that play with construction toys might offer a rich environment that would support later learning in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. Researchers have found that when playing with blocks under interactive conditions, children hear the kind of language that helps them think about space, such as "over," "around" and "through."

Researchers in the Infant Lab at Temple Ambler study how children's minds work and how they learn to develop new ways of teaching.
Credit: Joseph V. Labolito

Parents and researchers have long speculated that playing with construction toys might offer a rich environment that would support later learning in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

In a recent study published in Mind, Brain and Education, researchers at Temple's Infant Lab found there are some very real benefits to playing with that old toy classic -- blocks.

The researchers found that when playing with blocks under interactive conditions, children hear the kind of language that helps them think about space, such as "over," "around" and "through."

"When parents use spatial language, they draw attention to spatial concepts," said Nora Newcombe, co-director of Temple's Infant Lab. "The development of a spatial vocabulary is critical for developing spatial ability and awareness."

Spatial skills are important for success in the STEM disciplines, but they are also involved in many everyday tasks, such as packing the trunk of a car or assembling a crib.

They are a central component of intellect and, as those who struggle finding their way around a new city can attest, they show marked individual differences.

"There is evidence that variations in the spatial language young children hear, which directs their attention to important aspects of the spatial environment, may be one of the mechanisms that contribute to differences in spatial ability," says Newcombe, who is also the principal investigator of the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC), headquartered at Temple.

To investigate how play affects variations in language, investigators observed children and parents in one of three situations: in "free" play, where the subjects are encouraged to play with the blocks as they would at home; in "preassembled" play, where the subject are given blocks that have been glued together in a preformed, fixed structure; and in "guided" play, where the subjects are given the blocks along with graphic instructions for creating a particular structure.

Parents in the guided play condition produced significantly higher proportions of spatial talk than parents in the other two conditions, and children in the guided play condition produced significantly more spatial talk than those in the free play condition.

"This study gives parents news they can use. It shows that, rather than leaving kids alone with a preassembled activity, interactive play that draws out conversation is best at facilitating spatial development," Newcombe said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Temple University. The original article was written by Kim Fischer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Temple University. "Interactive play with blocks found to facilitate development of spatial vocabulary." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111102161154.htm>.
Temple University. (2011, November 4). Interactive play with blocks found to facilitate development of spatial vocabulary. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111102161154.htm
Temple University. "Interactive play with blocks found to facilitate development of spatial vocabulary." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111102161154.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins