Learning from Pictures

Can young children learn new skills by looking at pictures?

In a 2006 study, toddlers were read a story that included step-by-step photographs of a toddler building a rattle. They were then given the same objects and asked to build a rattle themselves.

Most were able to complete some of the steps, and all did better than children who did not see the book. The experiment was then repeated with color drawings, and then again with black-and-white drawings.

Researchers found that the younger the child, the more important it was to have a realistic representation of the task, such as a photograph.

All of the children of all the ages were able to build the rattle after a person, rather than a two-dimensional image, showed them how. That underscores the importance of face-to-face interaction with kids at this age.

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