WiNK – Knowledge in the Neighborhood of Kids

The project WiNK examined the development of thematic neighborhood effects and their relation to reading and verbal creativity.

Project Description

In the project WiNK we strove to study the development of the thematic knowledge of children. Thematic knowledge is the knowledge about the co-occurrence of objects, persons, or concepts. For example, a kite and wind often co-occur. When they do, one can learn a lot about both. How can I fly a kite? How often does the wind change? Kite and wind are thematic neighbors. In contrast, kite and sail are taxonomic neighbors. Even though they look alike and have a similar function, they rarely co-occur. One is often used on land and one on water.

Recent scientific studies suggest that thematic knowledge in particular is important for the early development of conceptual knowledge and might be connected to reading and verbal creativity. In our research project we studied whether thematic knowledge is organized differently in early and middle childhood as well as adulthood and whether the estimation of thematic knowledge in each age group is connected to reading and verbal creativity.

Research Questions

  • How is semantic knowledge organized in children?
  • Is knowledge about thematic relations more relevant than taxonomic relations in children?
  • Is knowledge about thematic relations connected to reading and verbal creativity?


IDeA Center


Schmitterer, A.M.A., & Schroeder, S. (2019). Young children’s ability to distinguish thematic relations: Development and predictive value for early reading. Cognitive Development, 50, 22-35. doi:10.1016/j.cogdev.2019.01.002

Project Management

Dr. Alexandra Schmitterer

Project Details

Completed Projects
Department: Education and Human Development
7/2020 – 12/2021
External funding
Contact: Dr. Alexandra Schmitterer, Associated Researcher