Using Animated Action Scenes to Remotely Assess Sentence Diversity in Toddlers

Windi Krok, Elizabeth S. Norton, Mary Kate Buchheit, Emily M. Harriott, Lauren Wakschlag, Pamela A. Hadley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although language samples are child-friendly and well-suited for obtaining global measures of language production, structured protocols have the potential to elicit many different exemplars of language structures in a shorter amount of time. We created a structured elicitation protocol, the Sentence Diversity Priming Task (SDPT), to efficiently assess sentence diversity in toddlers via video chat platforms. Sentence diversity is operationalized as the number of different subject–verb combinations in active declarative sentences. The task is presented as an animated picture book, with parents serving as the child’s primary partner during administration. In this article, we provide the rationale for assessing sentence diversity, describe the task, and present preliminary analyses of compliance and developmental associations for 32 typically developing toddlers, 30–35 months old, with average language abilities. The preliminary findings suggest that the SDPT is an engaging task that holds toddlers’ attention, reveals robust individual differences in their ability to produce sentences, is positively correlated with parent-reported language measures, and has the potential for assessing children’s language growth over time. Finally, recommendations and tips for developing and remotely administering the protocol are provided, with an emphasis on encouraging parent involvement and increasing toddler compliance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-172
Number of pages17
JournalTopics in Language Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • language assessment
  • telehealth
  • sentence diversity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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