Department or Program



A recent push for increased achievement in the younger years has led to a decline of play in school (e.g., Adams, 2011; Henley, McBride, Milligan, & Nichols, 2007). However, research continually illustrates the value of play in the early years, specifically in terms of how it may enhance learning and achievement (e.g., Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Berk, & Singer, 2009; Hurwitz, 2002; National Research Council et al., 2009; Weisberg, Hirsh-Pasek, & Golinkoff, 2013). A recent study revealed that exposure to new vocabulary words in a fantastical context, as opposed to a realistic context, enhanced learning in preschoolers (Weisberg, Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Nicolopoulou, & Dickinson, 2015). The present study sought to determine if this finding is generalizable to mathematics. Preschoolers were taught mathematical concepts with either realistic or fantastical storybooks and toys. Results indicated that receiving the intervention, either realistic or fantastical, led to enhanced learning of shapes, but not numbers, as compared to receiving no intervention (i.e., in the control group). These findings could provide the necessary motivation to make important changes in current preschool curricula to increase math learning and achievement.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

Nigro, Georgia

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2015

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages



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