Preschoolers at Play

Preschoolers at Play

Choosing the Right Stuff for Learning and Development

Lisa Mufson Bresson, Megan King


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  • NAEYC publishes research-based; peer-reviewed books for early childhood educators.
  • The topic of materials to include in the classroom impacts every teacher and the information will guide teachers to consider how specific materials help foster children’s learning and development in specific domains.
  • Explains the critical role that play materials (that is, classic toys like balls, dolls, and blocks as well as other resources that support play like paint, swings, boxes, and mirror) have in enhancing children’s learning and development. As part of this, it goes into why selecting the quote “right stuff” matters and what the teacher’s role is in choosing these play materials.
  • Emphasizes incorporating child-directed interests and activities into the classroom and how to provide materials that inspire hands-on, exploratory learning to help children go from concrete thinking to more abstract thinking.
  • While these books explore a wide range of play materials, they also help teachers see how a little can go a long way and inspire them to see the deeper learning potential each play material has. For example, a ball can not only help children’s physical development (big muscles and coordination), it can be the object of a math inquiry (such as measuring its circumference with yarn or a measuring tape) or a science inquiry (like observing if it rolls down a ramp faster or slower depending on how they set the incline.)


Lisa Mufson Bresson:

Lisa Mufson Bresson, MEd, is an early childhood author, coach, and consultant with Beyond Boundaries, LLC, specializing in the areas of inquiry-based learning, developmentally appropriate practice, quality classroom environments, and early childhood leadership. Previously, she was the program manager for Grow NJ Kids, New Jersey's statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for early childhood programs. She taught in urban public preschool settings for over a decade. While in district, she also served on the Committee for Staff Development, mentoring and coaching novice teachers.

Lisa is coauthor of NAEYC’s bestselling book Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children’s Thinking. She has been a contributing author to Teaching Young Children, NAEYC’s magazine for preschool teachers, for over 10 years and currently serves on the publication’s advisory panel. She frequently presents at local, state, and national conferences.

Lisa is the proud mother of two adult sons, Levi and Jacob. She and her husband Jason live in Sharon, Connecticut, and are both enthusiastic travelers and adventure seekers.


Megan King, MEd, is an early childhood specialist and preschool teacher at Passaic Public Schools in Passaic, NJ. She holds degrees from Ramapo College of New Jersey and William Paterson University, including an MEd focusing on early childhood education. Megan has been working and learning with children and their families for more than 15 years.

A past New Jersey Governor’s Educator of the Year Award recipient for her school, she has served and continues to serve on several advisory boards, including the NJ Council for Teaching and Learning, the NAEYC-PBS Ready to Learn Advisory Board, and the TYC Editorial Advisory Panel. Megan has shared her expertise on making and makerspaces in the preschool classroom through several articles, presentations, a chapter in the NAEYC book Big Questions for Young Minds, and activities in a STEM book published by HighScope. Using her knowledge and enthusiasm for early childhood, Megan advocates for quality early childhood education policy through her role as Chairperson of the Early Childhood Educator’s Caucus to the National Education Association.

Megan lives in West Caldwell, New Jersey, with her family and enjoys cozying up with a good book and her dog Boone.