Resources & Research




The Child Development Institute is part of the Children, Childhood and Education Collaborative.  Visit the Collaborative page to learn more about our additional resources on early childhood development.

CDI at Home Together


Equity, Anti-Racism and Social Justice


Publications by past & present members of CDI Steering Group

  • Ferguson, Kim; Schecter, Barbara; Feltham, Emily; Davis, Andrea. (2017). Play's the Thing: Community Adventure Play Experience. IPA/USA, Fall 2017, 15-20.
  • Grob, Rachel. (2011). A House on Fire: Newborn Screening, Parents’ Advocacy, and the Discourse of Urgency. In Patients as Policy Actors, eds. Hoffman, B., Tomes, N., Schlesinger, M., and Grob, R. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
  • Grob, Rachel. (2011). Testing baby: The transformation of newborn screening, parenting and policymaking. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
  • Schecter, Barbara. (2011). Development as an aim of education: A reconsideration of Dewey’s vision. Curriculum Inquiry, 41(2), 250-266.
  • Carbon, Lorayne. (2010). The wisdom of nature: Advice to teachers. In The wisdom of nature: Out my back door. Community Playthings Monograph.
  • Drucker, Jan. (2009). When, why and how: Does psychodynamic psychotherapy have a place on the spectrum? Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 8(1), 32-29.
  • Grob, Rachel. (2009). The wisdom of play: Nature. In The wisdom of play: Why children at play are their own best teachers. Community Playthings Monograph.
  • Grob, Rachel. (2009). Not every playing field should be level.ENCOUNTER: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, 22(4), 14-15.
  • Wilford, Sara. (2009). Nurturing young children’s disposition to learn.St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.

Occasional Papers

The Child Development Institute has undertaken the publication and dissemination of papers on important and timely topics in child development and education. Below is a list of occasional papers that are available for download (PDF):

Kindergarten Research Project

Funded by a grant from The Alliance for Childhood, the Kindergarten Research Project was carried out by Jan Drucker and Barbara Schecter, with Margery Franklin as consultant and with student research assistants. A bifocal study, the project examined the nature of play as observed during “free choice” periods during the kindergarten day, as well as the attitudes and behaviors of teachers that can be seen as facilitating the extent and depth of play in their classrooms. Additionally, interviews with principals and teachers yielded data about the demographics of the schools and districts, how kindergarten programs are mandated and/or planned, and what they think about the current status of play and other aspects of child life in kindergarten. A full report of the research was submitted to the Alliance for Childhood and included in the national report produced by the Alliance, Crisis in Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School.

Public Perceptions of Play

Building on the Kindergarten Research Project carried out by a group of CDI faculty between 2006 and 2008 with funding from the Alliance for Childhood, in 2010 the Institute initiated a new study (in collaboration with our partner at Yale University) about public perceptions of play. Specifically, we are investigating what these perceptions are; how they connect to familiar ideas and images (e.g., play as recreation, play as trivial, play as learning); and how messages about the importance of play can be developed and honed based on these public perceptions for maximal policy impact. This research was initiated, along with evaluation-related work we were asked to undertake, at the inaugural event of the “Ultimate Block Party” initiative. This event, which took place in Central Park in October 2010, was itself designed to emphasize the importance of play to parents, policy-makers and the general public. The principal investigators on this project participated in a National Science Foundation debriefing on the Ultimate Block Party initiative immediately after the inaugural event.

What We're Reading About...

Children & the Environment

  • Basile, C., & White, C. (2000). Respecting living things: Environmental literacy for young children. Early Childhood Education Journal,28(1), 57-61.
  • Blair, D. (2009). The child in the garden: An evaluative review of the benefits of school gardening. Journal of Environmental Education, 40(2), 15-38.
  • Britsch, S. J. (2001). Emergent environmental literacy in the non-narrative compositions of kindergarten children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 28(3), 153-159.
  • Carson, R. (1956). The sense of wonder. Berkeley, CA: The Nature Company.
  • Cobb, E. (1993). The ecology of imagination in childhood (Reprint ed.). Dallas, TX: Spring Publications.
  • Chawla, L. (1998). Significant life experiences revisited: A review of research on sources of environmental sensitivity. The Journal of Environmental Education,29(3), 11-21.
  • Chawla, L. (2003). Bonding with the natural world: Roots of environmental awareness. The NAMATA Journal, 28(1), 133-154.
  • Cornell, J. B. (1998). Sharing nature with children (20th Anniversary ed.). Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications.
  • Elder, J. (1998). Stories in the land: A place-based environmental education anthology. Great Barrington, MA: Orion Society.
  • Fjørtoft, I. (2001). The natural environment as a playground for children: The impact of outdoor play activities in preprimary school children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 29(2), 111-117.
  • Fisman, L. (2005). The effects of local learning on environmental awareness in children: An empirical investigation. The Journal of Environmental Education,36(3), 39-50.
  • Hart, R. (1979). Children’s experience of place. New York: Irvington Publishers, Inc.
  • Jennings, N., Swidler, S., & Koliba, C. (2005). Place-based education in the standards-based reform era--conflict or compliment? American Journal of Education,112(1), 44-65.
  • Kahn, P. H., & Kellert, S. R. (Eds.). (2002). Children and nature: Psychological, sociocultural, and evolutionary investigations. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Kessen, K. (2004). For the love of frogs: Promoting ecological sensitivity through the arts. Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, 17(1), 42-48.
  • Kuo, F. (2001). Coping with poverty: Impacts of environment and attention in the inner city. Environment and Behavior,33 (1), 5-34.
  • Louv, R. (2008). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder (Updated ed.). Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.
  • Mabie, R., & Baker, M. (1996). The influence of experimental instruction on urban elementary students’ knowledge of the food and fiber system. Journal of Extension,34(6) 1-4.
  • Malone, K., & Tranter, P. J. (2003). School grounds as sites for learning: Making the most of environmental opportunities. Environmental Education Research, 9, 283-303.
  • Moore, R. (1993). Plants for play: A plant selection guide for children's outdoor environments. Berkeley, CA: MIG Communications.
  • Moore, R. C., & Marcus, C. C. (2008). Healthy planet, healthy children: Designing nature into the daily spaces of childhood. In S. R. Kellert, J. Heerwagen, & M. Mador (Eds.), Biophilic design: The theory, science, and practice of bringing buildings to life,(pp. 153-203). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  • Moore, R. C., & Wong, H. H. (1997). Natural learning: The life history of an environmental schoolyard. Berkeley, CA: MIG Communications.
  • Nabhan, G. P., & Trimble, S. 1994. The geography of childhood: Why children need wild places. Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Nicholson, S. (1971). The theory of loose parts. Landscape Architecture, 62(1), 30-34.
  • Rivkin, R. (1995). The great outdoors: Restoring children's right to play outdoors. Washington, DC: NAEYC.
  • Rivkin, M. (1998). “Happy play in grassy places”: The importance of the outdoor environment in Dewey’s educational ideal. Early Childhood Education Journal, 25(3), 199-202.
  • Sobel, D. (1996). Beyond ecophobia: Reclaiming the heart in nature educations. Great Barrington, MA: The Orion Society.
  • Sobel, D. (1998). Mapmaking with children: Sense-of-place education for the elementary years. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Sobel, D. (2002). Children's special places: Exploring the role of forts, dens, and bush houses in middle childhood (New ed.). Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.
  • Sobel, D. (2004). Place-based education: Connecting classrooms and communities (2nd ed.). Great Barrington, MA: Orion Society.
  • Sobel, D. (2008). Childhood and nature: Design principles for educators. Portland, ME.: Stenhouse Publishers.
  • Stone, M., & Center for Ecoliteracy. (2009). Smart by nature: Schooling for sustainability. Healdsburg, CA: Watershed Media.
  • Stone, M., & Barlow, Z. (2005). Ecological literacy: Educating our children for a sustainable world. San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books.
  • Talbot, J., & Frost, J. L. (1989). Magical playscapes. Childhood Education, 66(1), 11-19.
  • Taylor, A. F., Kuo, F. E., & Sullivan, W. C. (2001). Coping with ADD: The surprising connection to green play settings. Environment and Behavior,33(1), 54-77.
  • Taylor, A. F., Wiley, A., Kuo, F. E., & Sullivan, W. C. (1998). Growing up in the inner city: Green spaces as places to grow. Environment and Behavior, 30, 3-27.
  • Tovey, H. (2007). Playing outdoors: Spaces and places, risk and challenge. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
  • Wells, N. M. (2000). At home with nature: Effects of “greenness” on children’s cognitive functioning. Environment and Behavior, 32(6), 775-795.
  • Wells, N. M., & Lekies, K. S. (2006). Nature and the life course: Pathways from childhood nature experiences to adult environmentalism. Children, Youth and Environments, 16, 1-24.
Selected Web sites


  • Axline, V. M. (1974). Play therapy. New York: Ballantine Books.
  • Barthes, R. (1972). Toys. In R. Barthes Mythologies (pp. 53-55). (A. Lavers, Trans.). New York: Hill and Wang. (Original work published 1957).
  • Baudelaire, C. (1995). A philosophy of toys. In C. Baudelaire The painter of modern life and other essays (pp. 193-204). (2nd ed.) (J. Mayne, Trans. and Ed.). London: Phaidon. (Original translation published in 1964.)
  • Brett, A., Moore, R. C., & Provenzo, Eugene F. Jr. (1993). The complete playground book. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
  • Brown, F. (Ed.). (2003). Playwork: Theory and practice. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.
  • Brown, F., & Taylor, C. (Eds.). (2008). Foundations of playwork. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
  • Brown, S. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York: Penguin Group.
  • Chudacoff, H. P. (2007). Children at play: An American history. New York: New York University Press.
  • Crain, W. (2003). Reclaiming childhood: Letting children be children in our achievement-oriented society. New York: Owl Books.
  • Elkind, D. (2007). The power of play: How spontaneous, imaginative activities lead to happier, healthier children. Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press Lifelong Books/Perseus Books Group.
  • Fromberg, D. P., & Bergen, D. (2006). Play from birth to twelve: Contexts, perspectives, and meanings. New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Frost, J. L., Wortham, S. C., & Reifel, S. (2008). Play and child development (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
  • Galda, L., & Pellegrini, Anthony D. (Eds.). (1985). Play, language, and stories: The development of children's literate behavior. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.
  • Gil, E. (1991). The healing power of play. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Gil, E., & Drewes, A. (2005). Cultural issues in play therapy. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Goncu, A., & Klein, Elisa L. (Eds.). (2001). Children in play, story and school. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Goodenough, E. (2003). Secret spaces of childhood. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press.
  • Hart, R. (2002). Containing children: Some lessons on planning for play from New York City. Environment and Urbanization, 14(2), 135-148.
  • Hirsch, E. S. (Ed.). (1984). The block book. Washington, DC: NAEYC.
  • Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., & Eyer, D. E. (2003). Einstein never used flash cards: How our children really learn--and why they need to play more and memorize less. Emmaus, PA: Rodale.
  • Hughes, B. (2001). Evolutionary playwork and reflective analytic practice. London; New York: Routledge.
  • Jones, E. & Reynolds, G. (1992). The play’s the thing: Teachers’ roles in children’s play. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Klugman, E., & Smilansky, S. (1990). Children's play and learning: Perspectives and policy implications. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Linn, S. (2008). The case for make believe: Saving play in a commercialized world. New York: The New Press.
  • Moore, R., Goltsman, S., & Iacofano, D. (Eds.). (1992). The play for all guidelines: Planning, design, and management of outdoor play settings for all children (2nd Ed.). Berkeley, CA: MIG Communications.
  • Nicholson, S. (1971). The theory of loose parts. Landscape Architecture, 62(1), 30-34.
  • Olfman, S. (2003). All work and no play... how educational reforms are harming our preschoolers. Westport, CT: Praeger.
  • Paley, V. G. (2004). A child's work: The importance of fantasy play. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Reynolds, G., & Jones, E. (1997). Master players: Learning from children at play. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Rivkin, R. (1995). The great outdoors: Restoring children's right to play outdoors. Washington, DC: NAEYC.
  • Saracho, O., & Spodek, B. (1998). Multiple perspectives on play in early childhood education. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
  • Singer, D. G., Golinkoff, R. M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2006). Play=learning: How play motivates and enhances children's cognitive and social-emotional growth. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Slade, A., & Wolf, D. (1994). Children at play. New York: Oxford University Press
  • Smilansky, S., & Shefatya, L. (1990). Facilitating play: A medium for promoting cognitive, socio-emotional, and academic development in young children. Gaithersburg, MD: Psychological and Educational Publications.
  • Solomon, S. G. (2005). American playgrounds: Revitalizing community space. Hanover: University Press of New England.
  • Sutton-Smith, B. (1997). The ambiguity of play. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
  • Talbot, J., & Frost, J. L. (1989). Magical playscapes. Childhood Education, 66(1), 11-19.
  • Tepperman, J. (Ed.). (2007). Play in the early years: Key to school success. A Policy Brief published by Bay Area Early Childhood Funders.
  • Tovey, H. (2007). Playing outdoors: Spaces and places, risk and challenge. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
  • Zigler, E. F., Singer, D. G., & Bishop-Josef, Sandra J. (Eds.). (2004). Children's play: The roots of reading. Washington, DC: Zero to Three Press.
Selected Websites

Teaching & Learning

  • Anyon, J. (2005). Radical possibilities: Public policy, urban education, and a new social movement. New York: Routledge.
  • Cremin, L. A. (1961). The transformation of the school: Progressivism in American education, 1876-1957. New York: Knopf.
  • Cuffaro, H. K. (1995). Experimenting with the world: John Dewey and the early childhood classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Delpit, L. (1995). Other people’s children: Cultural conflict in the classroom. New York: New Press.
  • Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: The Macmillan Co.
  • Duckworth, E. R. (1996). “The having of wonderful ideas” and other essays on teaching and learning (2nd Ed.). New York: Teachers College Press
  • Friere, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.
  • Holt, J. C. (1967). How children learn. New York: Pitman Pub. Corp.
  • Hooks, B. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.
  • Kohl, H. R. (1995). Should we burn Babar? : Essays on children’s literature and the power of stories. New York: The New Press.
  • Kohn, A. (1999). The schools our children deserve: Moving beyond traditional classrooms and “tougher standards”. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
  • Kozol, J. (2007). Letters to a young teacher. New York: Crown Publishers.
  • Kress, G. (1997). Before writing: Rethinking the paths to literacy. New York: Routledge.
  • Kridel, C., & Bullough, R. V., Jr. (2007). Stories of the eight-year study: Reexamining secondary education in America. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
  • Meier, D. (2002). In schools we trust: Creating communities of learning in an era of testing and standardization. Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Nager, N., & Shapiro, E. K. (Eds.) Revisiting a progressive pedagogy: The developmental-interaction approach. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
  • Nieto, S. (2005). Why we teach. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Ohanian, S. (1999). One size fits few: The folly of educational standards. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Ramsey, P. G. (1987). Teaching and learning in a diverse world: Multicultural education for young children. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Rose, M. (2009). Why school? : Reclaiming education for all of us. New York: The New Press.
  • Sizer, T. R. (2004). Horace’s compromise: The dilemma of the American high school. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Zigler, E. F., Singer, D. G., & Bishop-Josef, Sandra J. (Eds.). (2004). Children's play: The roots of reading. Washington, DC: Zero to Three Press.
Selected Web sites