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Rae pica

Rae Pica

Rae Pica has been an education consultant (www.raepica.com) specializing in the development and education of the whole child, children’s physical activity, and developmentally appropriate practice since 1980. A former adjunct instructor with the University of New Hampshire, she is the author of 19 books. Rae is known for her lively and informative keynotes and trainings and has shared her expertise with such groups as the Sesame Street Research Department, the Head Start Bureau, Centers for Disease Control, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues, Gymboree, Nike, and state health departments throughout the country. Rae also blogs for Huffington Post, is a member of the executive committee of the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences, and is cofounder of BAM Radio Network (www.bamradionetwork.com), the world’s largest online education radio network, where she hosts programs on Educators Radio, interviewing experts in education, child development, play research, the neurosciences, and more.

Rae lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

More About Rae Pica

Awards for Jump into Literacy:

  • Earlychildhood News Director's Choice Award
  • iParenting Media Award
  • National Parenting Publications Award

Award for Jump into Math:

  • iParenting Media Award

Award for Great Games for Young Children:

  • Earlychildhood News Director's Choice Award

Award for Teachable Transitions:

  • Instructor Seal of Approval

Praise for Jump into Literacy:

"Here are more than 100 activities that address literacy while engaging children in movement games. The author describes the benefits of active literacy learning and the connections between music, literacy, and movement."

—NAEYC's Teaching Young Children

Praise for Jump into Math:

"The format of the book is so easy for teachers to quickly look for an activity that meets the needs of children. The icing on the cake is that many activities use materials that are readily available in most classrooms. Add the fact that the activities tell the teachers what concepts are being covered and what are related books and music ideas and you've got a fantastic resource for a subject that is often intimidating for teachers." 

—Jody Martin, vice president of education and training, Creme de la Crème

Praise for Teachable Transitions:

"Just when you think you've collected every transition idea, along come Rae Pica's sensational, fun-filled, rhythmic movement activities. This collection provides doable 'out-of-the-box' ideas... Try them and see!” 

—Dr. Vicki Speaks-Folds, vice president of education, Tutor Time Learning Centers

Praise for Great Games for Young Children:

"Very well done and equally useful for parents, teachers, and child care providers." 

The Field Guide to Parenting

Praise for Wiggle, Giggle, and Shake:

"This book's contents are certain to awaken the child's imagination, stimulate the desire to move and play, and develop positive attitudes towards learning. This book provides a wonderful outlet for pretending, and cultivates the child's imagination." 

—Dr. Rhonda Clements, president, the American Association for the Child's Right to Play

"Wow! What a wonderful way to tap into children's energy and their brains! They will be having so much fun they won't realize they are learning. From her years of experience Rae Pica knows what works with children, and in this book she shares her creativity and wealth of knowledge with others. So Wiggle, Giggle and Shake up some fun in your classroom with this book!" 

—Jean Feldman, author

Q: Throughout your career, you’ve been an early childhood movement specialist, author, radio show host, and presenter. Which aspect of your career have you found most rewarding and why?

What I find most rewarding is knowing my work has made an impact! When a teacher tells me one of my books has made a difference in her classroom, I’m thrilled to have written it. When a director tells me she opens a staff or parent meeting with an interview from “Body, Mind and Child” (my Internet radio program) and that it drove discussion about an important topic in early childhood education, I’m thrilled to be a radio host. And when someone comes up to me after a keynote and says she’s going to do things a little differently after listening to me speak, I’m thrilled to be a presenter!

Q: As a movement specialist, you state that physical activity helps children develop social, emotional, and cognitive development. How?

I’ve written a whole textbook on that question! In short, when children engage in self-initiated, self-directed play and in cooperative activities, they learn about themselves and others. When they are given opportunities to work together toward a solution or common goal—achieving a balance, or crowding together on the one remaining seat in a game of cooperative musical chairs—they know they each contribute to the success of the venture. Each child knows she or he plays a vital role in the outcome, and each accepts the responsibility of fulfilling that role. That’s part of the social/emotional piece.

With regard to movement’s role in cognitive development, neurophysiologist Carla Hannaford has said that all brain development is linked to movement. We also know that moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise “feeds” the brain with oxygen, water, and glucose, optimizing its performance. Moreover, young children need to physically experience concepts in order to best understand them!

Q: With the recent focus on childhood obesity, what can teachers do in the classroom tomorrow to help fight this epidemic?

Teachers can accept that they’re responsible for the whole child and that childhood obesity is something we all need to help fight. In the classroom, that means teachers should:

  • Utilize substantial chunks of what is set aside for circle time for movement.
  • Take movement breaks throughout the day, some of which incorporate moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (like walking briskly or running in place, pretending to be in a track meet).
  • Incorporate movement across the curriculum and during transitions!

Q: Much of your focus is on helping parents understand the importance of physical activity for their children. How much physical activity should children get each day?

The National Association for Sport & Physical Education has created guidelines on physical activity for young children. The document is called Active Start, and I was privileged to have been on the original task force that created it.

The guidelines state that preschoolers should accumulate at least 60 minutes a day of structured physical activity and a daily minimum, and up to several hours, of unstructured physical activity. Unfortunately, I don’t know any children who are getting that much!

Q: In your book Great Games, the focus is on non-competitive games for young children. Some say that removing competition from a young child’s life might hurt their future since, as adults, we’re faced with competition for things such as college admissions and future employment. How would you respond to the notion that getting young children used to a competitive adult environment is appropriate?

When one “competes” for college admissions and future employment, he or she doesn’t even know who the competition is. The best an individual can do is to bring his or her best self—his or her poise and confidence—to the situation. I believe that cooperative movement experiences contribute to a child’s poise and confidence—and to a life in which they consider and respect others.

Yes, there is competition in life, but we behave as though there are only, say, six A’s to go around in the classroom and we must engage in hand-to-hand combat to get one of them! We also behave as though cooperation and collaboration are not an enormous part of life—when we clearly have to cooperate with life partners, family members, coworkers, and community members. How do children learn to cooperate and collaborate when we expose them only to competitive activities—to activities in which they are pitted against one another?

When children engage in cooperative activities, one of the great benefits is that they learn to become tolerant of others’ ideas and to accept the similarities and differences among individuals. Does this not contribute more to a child’s future than the misguided notion that he is superior to others?

The following Professional Development opportunities are offered by this author:


The Whole Child: Thinking, Feeling, Moving

Developmentally appropriate practice dictates that we educate the whole child in an integrated fashion. But, more than ever, the trend is toward the mind and body as separate entities and the curriculum as segregated little pieces. We know how children learn -- and now we have science, in the form of brain research, on our side. Rae's presentation will inform, entertain, and empower you!

Accountability Got You Down? Take a Stand for Active Learning!

When teachers use movement and play in the classroom, they teach the whole child, engaging the physical and social/emotional domains as well as the cognitive. This results in enduring and meaningful lessons and children who will move in leaps and bounds toward becoming lifelong learners! You’ll leave this presentation with the tools you need to take a stand for developmentally appropriate learning.


Physical Development & Beyond: Why Young Children Need to Move

When we think of the words children and movement, physical development is usually the first benefit to come to mind. And physical development -- in terms of movement skills and fitness -- is critical in early childhood. But movement also has much to offer in the cognitive and social/emotional domains. Rae's most popular presentation explores movement's valuable role in all aspects of a child's development and demonstrates just how easy it is to make movement part of every child's life and education.

Moving & Learning Across the Curriculum

The domains of child development -- physical, social/emotional, and cognitive -- are sointertwined in the early years that a child can't learn something in one domain without learning something in the others. To truly educate the whole child, we must recognize children as thinking, feeling, moving human beings who learn through all their senses. In this workshop, participants explore activities that, while providing physical education, also offer valuable educational experiences in art, language arts, mathematics, music, science and social studies.

Literacy in Leaps & Bounds!

Policy may have changed, but children haven't; they still need to experience concepts to fully understand them. That includes concepts falling under the heading of literacy and the language arts. This presentation explores the use of movement and music as tools in the promotion of children's emergent literacy.

Fitness for Young Children: What's Developmentally Appropriate?

The "no pain, no gain" approach to exercise is not only incomprehensible to young children; it can create a dislike for movement in general. This participatory workshop explores the concept of developmentally appropriate physical activity and fitness for young children, with particular attention paid to the five health-related components of physical fitness.

To request information about this author´s presentations, please contact Robyn Clark at [email protected]

"Jump Into Literacy, Math, and Science: Active Learning for Preschool Children"


Books by Rae Pica

Wiggle, Giggle & Shake CD
4 Stars
Price: $15.95
Wiggle, Giggle & Shake
4 Stars
Price: $19.95
Jump into Science
4 Stars
Price: $14.95
Jump into Math
4 Stars
Price: $14.95
Jump into Literacy
4 Stars
Price: $14.95
Teachable Transitions
4 Stars
Price: $14.95

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