Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Messy children make better learners: Toddlers learn words for nonsolids better when getting messy in a highchair

Date:
December 2, 2013
Source:
University of Iowa
Summary:
Parents, let your children get messy in the high chair: They learn better that way. That's according to a new study which concludes that a 16-month-old's setting and degree of interaction enhances his or her ability to identify nonsolid objects and name them.

Don't let the mess in the high chair bother you. New research from the University of Iowa shows kids who get messy in the high chair are learning.
Credit: Tim Schoon, University of Iowa

Attention, parents: The messier your child gets while playing with food in the high chair, the more he or she is learning.

Related Articles


Researchers at the University of Iowa studied how 16-month-old children learn words for nonsolid objects, from oatmeal to glue. Previous research has shown that toddlers learn more readily about solid objects because they can easily identify them due to their unchanging size and shape. But oozy, gooey, runny stuff? Not so much.

New research shows that changes if you put toddlers in a setting they know well, such as shoving stuff in their mouths. In those instances, word learning increases, because children at that age are "used to seeing nonsolid things in this context, when they're eating," says Larissa Samuelson, associate professor in psychology at the UI who has worked for years on how children learn to associate words with objects. "And, if you expose them to these things when they're in a highchair, they do better. They're familiar with the setting and that helps them remember and use what they already know about nonsolids."

In a paper published in the journal Developmental Science, Samuelson and her team at the UI tested their idea by exposing 16-month-olds to 14 nonsolid objects, mostly food and drinks such as applesauce, pudding, juice, and soup. They presented the items and gave them made-up words, such as "dax" or "kiv." A minute later, they asked the children to identify the same food in different sizes or shapes. The task required the youngsters to go beyond relying simply on shape and size and to explore what the substances were made of to make the correct identification and word choice.

Not surprisingly, many children gleefully dove into this task by poking, prodding, touching, feeling, eating -- and yes, throwing -- the nonsolids in order to understand what they were and make the correct association with the hypothetical names. The toddlers who interacted the most with the foods -- parents, interpret as you want -- were more likely to correctly identify them by their texture and name them, the study determined. For example, imagine you were a 16-month-old gazing at a cup of milk and a cup of glue. How would you tell the difference by simply looking?

"It's the material that makes many nonsolids," Samuelson notes, "and how children name them."

The setting matters, too, it seems. Children in a high chair were more apt to identify and name the food than those in other venues, such as seated at a table, the researchers found.

"It turns out that being in a high chair makes it more likely you'll get messy, because kids know they can get messy there," says Samuelson, the senior author on the paper. The authors say the exercise shows how children's behavior, environment (or setting) and exploration help them acquire an early vocabulary -- learning that is linked to better later cognitive development and functioning.

"It may look like your child is playing in the high chair, throwing things on the ground, and they may be doing that, but they are getting information out of (those actions)," Samuelson contends. "And, it turns out, they can use that information later. That's what the high chair did. Playing with these foods there actually helped these children in the lab, and they learned the names better."

"It's not about words you know, but words you're going to learn," Samuelson adds. Lynn Perry, who helped design the study and analyze the data as part of her doctoral studies at the UI, is the first author on the paper. Johanna Burdinie, who was an UI undergraduate during the project, is a contributing author.

The National Institutes of Health (grant number: R01 HD045713) funded the research. Burdinie was funded by a fellowship from the Iowa Center for Research for Undergraduates.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Iowa. The original article was written by Richard C. Lewis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lynn K. Perry, Larissa K. Samuelson, Johanna B. Burdinie. Highchair philosophers: the impact of seating context-dependent exploration on children's naming biases. Developmental Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/desc.12147

Cite This Page:

University of Iowa. "Messy children make better learners: Toddlers learn words for nonsolids better when getting messy in a highchair." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131202082318.htm>.
University of Iowa. (2013, December 2). Messy children make better learners: Toddlers learn words for nonsolids better when getting messy in a highchair. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131202082318.htm
University of Iowa. "Messy children make better learners: Toddlers learn words for nonsolids better when getting messy in a highchair." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131202082318.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

RightThisMinute (Jan. 23, 2015) Not only is Kathy seeing her newborn son for the first time, but this is actually the first time she has ever seen a baby. Kathy and her sister, Yvonne, have been legally blind since childhood, but thanks to an amazing new technology, eSight glasses, which gives those who are legally blind the ability to see, she got the chance to see the birth of her son. It&apos;s an incredible moment and an even better story. Video provided by RightThisMinute
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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