Find your favorite fall titles

As the air gets chillier, the leaves shift colors, and nighttime creeps up quicker, it’s the perfect time to snuggle up to Redleaf’s newest books. These new titles hit the shelves this month, perfect timing for the chilly days to come.



Creative Block Play by Rosanne Regan Hansel

Blocks are a timeless toy. They never stop challenging, stimulating and engaging young children. Creative Block Play will help you set up an inviting space for block play, and inspire children’s block creations.


imok-blogI’m OK! Building Resilience Through Physical Play by Jarrod Green 

Children must learn to pick themselves up, brush themselves off, and try again. This practical guide supplies you with the tools to create a culture of resilience through physical play.




Celebrate! by Julie Bisson

Just in time for the holiday season, the second edition of Celebrate! can help your program celebrate holidays in a respectful, unbiased way. It’s filled with strategies for implementing culturally and developmentally appropriate holiday activities.



Embracing Rough-and-Tumble Play by Mike Huber

Physical play is vital to young children’s development. This practical, hands-on resource encourages you to incorporate boisterous physical play into every day and offers concrete advice on how to create spaces for safe play.



The Language of Art by Ann Pelo

The second edition of The Language of Art further expands on the inspiration born in Reggio Emilia, Italy. This resource offers guidance for teachers to create space, time, and intentional processes for children’s exploration.




Practical Solutions to Practically Every Problem by Steffen Saifer

 Find solutions quickly and easily! The third edition of this classic book offers hundreds of updated tested solutions for the tricky problems, questions, and concerns that arise throughout the early childhood teacher’s day.




Kimmy’s Marvelous Wind-Catching Wonder by Linda Glaser and illustrated by Rachael Balsaitis

Kimmy wants to build a kite, but everyone around her says she can’t. She cuts and pastes paper and ribbon all morning, but will it fly? This book will help you teach children how to take risks and stand up for themselves.

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DIY Play Dough for National Play Dough Day

Friday, September 16 is National Play Dough Day, which is the perfect excuse to make some homemade play dough. The main benefit of sensory play—activities that stimulate a child’s sense of touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing— is that it’s one of the best ways children learn about the world around them.

Child moulds from ecological plasticine on table.

By touching loose, malleable objects such as play dough children are discovering the concepts of mass, volume and dimension. There is also a language element to sensory play, when teachers or caregivers offer adjectives to describe textures a child is feeling they build up their vocabulary. Words such as ‘rough,’ ‘wet,’ ‘dry,’ ‘bumpy,’ and ‘smooth’ are often used during sensory play.

Play dough also helps develop children’s small motor skills and strength as they push, squish and mold it in their hands. Similar to adults who squeeze stress balls to relax, children who play with play dough or other malleable objects feel better emotionally.

The best part about playing with play dough is that there is plenty of room for mistakes, what started out as a snake can turn into a snail. There are no right or wrong answers and children learn to make mistakes in a safe environment. Celebrating and learning from their mistakes is an important skill for children to bring into school and adulthood.

In honor of National Play Dough Day, we’ve pulled a great play dough recipe from The Ooey Gooey Handbook by Lisa Murphy.

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For more information on the importance of sensory play, check out Lisa Murphy on Play the Foundations of Children’s Learning by Lisa Murphy and Creating a Beautiful Mess: Ten Essential Play Experiences For a Joyful Childhood by Ann Gadzikowski.


Gadzikowski, Ann. Creating a Beautiful Mess: Ten Essential Play Experiences for a Joyous Childhood. St. Paul: Redleaf, 2015. Print.

Murphy, Lisa. Lisa Murphy on Play: The Foundation of Children’s Learning. St. Paul: Redleaf, 2016. Print.

Murphy, Lisa. “Playdough.” The Ooey Gooey Handbook: Identifying and Creating Child-centered Environments. St. Paul: Redleaf, 2001. 115. Print.

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‘Loose Parts’ Wins Learning Magazine 2017 Teachers’ Choice Award

2017-TCA-Preschool-colorThe winners of the Learning Magazine 2017 Teachers’ Choice Award—teacher-selected books and products that exhibit exceptional quality—Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children has won in the Preschool category!

RedleafPress-LoosePartsWritten by Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky, Loose Parts encourages young children to utilize the loose parts they can find themselves, both organic and inorganic objects. From acorns to fabric scraps anything and everything is utilized to captivate children’s curiosity and allow their imagination to run wild.

A panel of teacher evaluators, who use the products in their own classrooms, carefully selects the Learning Magazine Teachers’ Choice Awards. They select the highest quality products for parents, teachers and caregivers to use. With over 550 color photographs of a range of loose parts found easily in early childhood settings, Loose Parts is a must-have in a preschool classroom.

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Revamp Your Classroom For the New School Year

Summer is officially coming to an end and back-to-school season is in full swing. For teachers looking to freshen up their classroom or create some new spaces, they can gather innovative classroom design ideas from these helpful books filled with environment inspiration.

  1. Pedagogy and Space by Linda M. Zane


This book perfectly blends design information with early childhood theory to give you a new perspective of how to set up your classroom. The colorful photos of intentionally designed spaces will serve to get your creative juices flowing.




  1. Designs for Living and Learning by Deb Curtis and Margie Carter


If you want to create an environment that captivates and nurtures children, family, and staff while supporting children’s learning, this is the book for you. It goes beyond rating scales, regulations, and room arrangements. The photos show real early learning spaces and provide insightful and creative ideas for both indoor and outdoor spaces.




  1. Great Afterschool Programs and Spaces That Wow! By Linda J. Armstrong and Christine A. Schmidt

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This book is filled with hundreds of ideas to help you create a high-quality school-age program that is exciting, inviting and engaging to children. It takes you through how to improve the three dimensions of a school-age environment: temporal, interpersonal, and physical. The authors’ years of experience in education is reflected in this book.




  1. Cultivating Outdoor Classrooms: Designing and Implementing Child-Centered Learning Environments by Eric Nelson


If you can’t redesign your indoor spaces, simply transform your outdoor spaces into learning environments.  This book is filled with guidance to help you plan, design, and create an outdoor learning program that is a rich, thoughtfully equipped, natural extension of your indoor curriculum. It’s filled with practical and creative ideas and plenty of information to help make your outdoor classroom a reality.




  1. Family Child Care Homes: Creative Spaces for Children to Learn by Linda J. Armstrong

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Filled with low- and no-cost ideas, this book can help you to make your home a safe and welcoming space for children. Chapters are packed with full-color photographs and provide examples and tips for designing learning zones, selecting items, organizing materials, and more.

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Have some family fun with an American Adventure

August is American Adventures month and Family Fun Month, it’s the perfect excuse to take your family on a sightseeing road trip! Before children head back to school, a road trip is a cheap, fun adventure to do as a family. It can be both educational and enjoyable to hit the great American highways and see the sites that will fill your child’s textbooks during the school year. With so many beautiful cities, national parks and landmarks, it can be overwhelming to decide what to see and what to skip out on. To help you map out a plan, we’ve come up with a list of can’t-miss-sites to help you narrow down your choices. In no particular order, we have the fifteen American sites you absolutely need to take your family to.


1. Mount Rushmore

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Where: Keystone, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore is an impressive edifice on a huge mountainside that many school-aged children have seen pictures of. But seeing it in person is an entirely different feeling. This impressive feat of work should be on everyone’s list to see.


2. Big Sur

Big Sur.png

Where: California

Big Sur is a stretch of coastline unlike any other, with unending wildflowers, thousands of Condors and sunbathing sea otters. The vistas are unforgettable and can be enjoyed on the coastal Highway—which has some of the most beautiful views in the world– or you can pull over and explore as a family on foot.

3. Grand Canyon

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Where: Arizona

The Grand Canyon is an iconic American landmark, complete with rugged larger-than-life volcanic features and soaring peaks, there are unlimited beautiful panoramic vistas. Soak in the sites or take the family on a hike down to the Colorado River.

4. National Mall

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Where: Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C. is filled with so many famous sites, it can be kind of difficult to pick which ones to visit. The best place to start is the National Mall, the free Smithsonian museums line the green strip and you can see the Washington monument. Start off there and then explore the Potomac River and the rest of the monuments. Between the monuments and the museums it’s the perfect hands-on way to learn about the United States.


5. Millenium Park

Millenium Park.png

Where: Chicago, Illinois

Home to way more than the Bean, Millenium Park—and nearby Grant Park—is a refreshing plot of greenery and art that span from Michigan Avenue to Lake Michigan. Get lost in the beautiful sculptures and art, grab a bite to eat and walk to the Lake all in one afternoon. This is perfect for young children who need a lot of space to run around, there is even a fountain area perfect to splash around in on a hot summer day.

6. Space Center Houston

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Where: Houston, Texas

Relive the golden era of America’s space age with your little astronaut at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. You can see the spacecrafts and equipment that helped the U.S. dominate the Space Race. This is the perfect place for young children who are fascinated by science or space. With a country as broad and expansive as the United States, it can be hard to determine where to go first. As a family you have to pool together each others interests and go from there.

Wherever you end up, have a fun and safe Family Fun Month and American Adventure Month!

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A Magnetic Moon Day Activity

ThinkstockPhotos-468930291As a child one of the best things to do on a warm summer night is to stare up at the moon and stars that brighten the vast night sky. For most children the moon is a mystery, where did it come from? Why does it change shape sometimes? Does it stay in the same place? As a parent or teacher it can be overwhelming to answer all of their lunar-based questions.

The magnetic pull between the earth and the moon is especially difficult to explain, but the magnet activity listed below will make an abstract concept more concrete. In honor of Moon Day, use this magnet activity from Ooey Gooey Tooey by Lisa Murphy to help explain some of the moon’s wonder. No matter what age group you’re teaching, Murphy’s Ooey Gooey books provide educational—and fun—hands on activities for children.

Before beginning the activity, quickly review how magnets work and what they are attracted to. Then talk about how the earth is one big magnet that pulls the moon close enough for us to see it every night. For the activity, have the child hypothesize on which objects will be attracted to the magnet and which won’t. Consider the magnet to represent the earth and the magnetic objects to be the moon.

If you like getting your hands dirty for the sake of science, then check out Murphy’s other Ooey Gooey books here.


Source: Murphy, Lisa. “Sensory Tub Activities.” Ooey Gooey Tooey:. Rochester, NY: Ooey Gooey, 2009. 76. Print.

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Remembering Marlyn James

Marlyn James

Marlyn James

Marlyn James, my coauthor, collaborator, and dear friend passed away peacefully on June 25, 2016 from complications following brain surgery.

Marlyn was the chair of the Early Childhood Education Department at Flathead Community College in Kalispell, Montana. She was beloved by her students, inspiring them to continue working with children implementing the best practices that she made so clear and understandable in her teachings, presentations, and writings.

She was nationally recognized as an author, presenter, and consultant working to make a difference in the lives of young children and the field of early childhood education. She and I presented at many NAEYC National Conferences and Professional Development Institutes as well as at various state conferences. We wrote three books together (all published by Redleaf Press):

In addition, we produced a DVD and CD-ROM of video clips of young children in action so that early childhood professionals could practice observation and documentation and further refine their skills.

Marlyn was an outdoors woman. She loved to hike. She loved flowers. She loved to pick the greens, herbs and fresh vegetables from her gardens. She loved animals—her cats and dogs were family members, too.

Marlyn was incredibly gifted as a friend. Her wicked eyes, ready laugh, her what you see is what you get, her listening ear, her wise counsel, her fierce commitment to being our friend, to loving those of us lucky enough to have been in that circle. We are all better people because of her.

Marlyn was an incredibly loving woman. She spent her life caring for three boys, Patrick, Kevin, and Scott, shepherding them into manhood and ferociously loving her grandchildren, Kyle, Ian, and Emilee. She made the choice of a lifetime to end one marriage and follow her heart for love with Chuck, a tall young man who only wanted her. The two of them built a partnership based on the intimacy of souls and the courage to move to the mountains of Montana where they lived in a log house in the woods.

I will miss my dear friend, Marlyn, terribly. The field of early childhood education has lost one of its greatest champions. Hopefully, we all will try to live up to her legacy and continue to do what’s right in the world, for young children, for our families, and for the planet.

With deep sadness,

Gaye Gronlund

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