Metaphor Picture Game

Metaphor Picture Game

Language, Cognition, and Development Lab (University of Washington)

Who Can Participate

For children 3.5 to 4.5 years old who are hearing both English and another language (at least 20% of each). US/Canada only. Each child may participate in this study once.

What Happens

During this game, you will read descriptive phrases (for example, "Which watermelon has freckles?") to your child, and they will be asked to choose a picture that best goes with them. After your child finishes the study, we will ask you a few questions about your child's language exposure.

What We're Studying

Understanding metaphorical language is notoriously difficult for young children. However, recent research suggests that young children are able to understand some types of metaphors, namely those that use words that are appropriate for their vocab level and knowledge about the world. This study further explores children's ability to understand different types of metaphors. We are also interested in how early language environments (whether a child is learning one or more than one language) influence children's ability to understand metaphorical language. Monolingual and multilingual children might be making different assumptions about how words map onto concepts in the world, so we are exploring how these assumptions might affect how children understand metaphors. To answer these questions, this study asks children to match pictures to different examples of metaphorical language in order to better understand the situations in which children succeed vs. struggle. The results of this study will help us better understand the challenges that children - both monolingual and multilingual - face when learning language, as well as how caregivers and educators can help children overcome these challenges.


15 minutes


After you participate, we will email you a $5 Tango electronic gift card within one week as a thank you. (One gift card per child; child must be in the age range for this study, and must be visible in consent video).

This study is conducted by Ariel Starr (contact:

Would you like to participate in this study?