Encouraging Children to Act Out!

In addition to aging and dementia, the Rusted Lab is curious about the development of children and how it compares to the aging process later on in life. Molly Berenhaus, a second year PhD student and devoted member of the Rusted lab, is currently looking at the benefits of action (e.g., hand movements) and externalisation (e.g., creating a storyboard) on children’s understanding and appreciation of short stories.



Storyboard illustration-work of illustrator Natalie Hobbons

Over the course of this academic year, Molly has been working with children in year 5 at a local primary school to investigate the benefits of two strategies on reading comprehension processes. Specifically she’s comparing the benefits of encouraging children to construct a visual representation of a short story (“Storyboard Construction”) using plastic cut-outs to the benefits of encouraging children to act out a short story (“Active Experiencing”) using different voices and hand movements. Both strategies have been found to help children understand what they’re reading (and enjoy doing it!) but now we have to find out what specific aspects of a story they help children understand (The layout of the scene? Information about the protagonist?). Molly’s research is interested in just that!

To find out more, please contact Molly at m.berenhaus@sussex.ac.uk

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