Help your toddler learn an important principle of language with this research-based game! Blicket guides children towards the shape bias: the idea that two objects with the same name tend to have the same shape, as opposed to the same color or texture. For instance, most “balls” have a characteristic spherical shape, while they vary in color and texture. Guiding 18-month-old children towards the shape bias can accelerate their vocabulary by 300% over a two month period (Smith et al., 2002).

Cognitive ToyBox’s learning games take a radically different approach from other educational games. Most games focus on reinforcing ABCs, 123s, colors, and other early fundamentals through rote learning and memorization, often with dubious success. In contrast, Cognitive ToyBox helps children learn-to-learn (L2L) — teaching high-level principles so children learn more efficiently outside of the screen. Children see these interventions as touchscreen games, but they’re backed by cutting edge research on how children acquire early language and math skills.

The shape bias is an example of an L2L principle that helps children learn how to learn new object words. Research has shown that children typically demonstrate the shape bias between learning their 50th to 100th object word (Greshkoff-Stowe & Smith, 2004), after which point, their vocabulary growth accelerates.

What happens if you guide children towards the shape bias earlier than they naturally acquire it? Smith et al. (2002) brought 17 month olds into the lab and helped them practice a shape matching task, where a child saw a novel object, “blicket”, and was asked to find another “blicket” that matched in shape, while ignoring distractors that matched in color or texture. After two months, the researchers found that children who received this shape training in the context of learning novel object names experienced a 300% vocabulary growth compared to children who did not receive this training. Moreover, children who are late talkers and those with Specific Language Impairment have a weaker shape bias (Jones, 2003).

Blicket is based on the laboratory experiments of Smith and colleagues. This game is appropriate for children 18 to 24 months of age. In accordance with guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, we recommend that parents play this game together with their child for 5 to 10 minutes per day over a 2 to 3 week period. We also recommend practicing object-shape matching together off the screen, in order to further promote this important cognitive skill.


Collisson, B. A., Grela, B., Spaulding, T., Rueckl, J. G., & Magnuson, J. S. (2015). Individual differences in the shape bias in preschool children with specific language impairment and typical language development: Theoretical and clinical implications. Developmental science, 18(3), 373-388.
Greshkoff-Stowe, L. & Smith, L. (2004). Shape and the first hundred nouns. Child Development, 75(4), 1098-1114.
Jones, S. S. (2003). Late talkers show no shape bias in a novel name extension task. Developmental Science, 6(5), 477-483.
Perry, L. K., Samuelson, L. K., Malloy, L. M., Schiffer, R. N. (2010). Learn locally, think globally: Exemplar variability supports higher-order generalization and word learning. Psychological Science, 21(12), 1894-902.
Samuelson, L. K. (2002). Statistical regularities in vocabulary guide language acquisition in connectionist models and 15-20-month-olds. Developmental Psychology, 38(6), 1016- 1037.
Smith, L. B., Jones, S. S., Landau, B., Gershkoff-Stowe, L., & Samuelson, L. (2002). Object Name Learning Provides On-the-Job Training for Attention. Psychological Science, 13, 13-19.

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  • Family Sharing

    Up to six family members will be able to use this app with Family Sharing enabled.

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