We are excited to present the Play with a Purpose blog to the early childhood education community! At Play with a Purpose, we pride ourselves as a leader in providing physical activity products for young children. Now, through this blog, we aim to be a top-notch resource of tips and tricks that teachers and child care professionals can implement with children under their care. All blogs are written by educators for educators, providing you with field-tested ideas and research. With a love for active play, our authors are educated in all aspects of early education and can’t wait to share their experience with you!

Thank you for visiting the Play with a Purpose blog!

About Play with a Purpose

Play with a Purpose came into this world in 1995 as a division of Gopher Sport, a company with more than 70 years of industry experience. Just as the first years of life can be critical to the development of young children, the same can be said of businesses!

We’ve learned from our parent company, tested our limits and boundaries, developed skills, and grown from every experience, every adventure. Now we are out there, industry leaders ourselves! What sets us apart is excellent customer service and unique product selection. We’re passionate about what we do, and it shows.


Robyn Cunningham
Robyn CunninghamKinderprep Teacher
Robyn has been teaching children of various ages for the last 13 years, with the majority of the years being at the preschool level. She currently teaches the Kinderprep class for Waseca Public Schools. Robyn loves working with kiddos of all ages, but has always had a soft spot for preschool. Preschoolers have such a sense of wonder, and it is so fun to see them explore and learn about the world around them. Robyn has been married for three wonderful years to her husband, Mike and enjoys chasing after their two year old daughter, Regan.
Rachel Weaver
Rachel Weaver4K Teacher
Rachel has been teaching for 6 years both half day and now full day 4K (4 year old Kindergarten). She absolutely loves it. Over her 6 years of experience, she's worked with many different children, families, and staff. She has experience working with children coming from severe trauma, children with special needs, children with speech delays, sensory needs, and pretty much everything else under the sun! Her program has a very important focus on ensuring children learn through play and are provided a wide array of sensory experiences both in and out of the classroom!
Amy Fredrickson
Amy FredricksonKindergarten Teacher
Amy has been teaching for the past 5 years in both 4-year-old classes and kindergarten programs. Amy’s background in early childhood began when she worked with her mom in preschool classrooms in her early teens, ever since then she hasn’t stopped loving teaching! Amy loves working with young children and helping them grow to love learning! Kindergarteners have a joy for learning and creating! Amy and her husband recently welcomed a little boy to the world!!
Karen Phillips
Karen PhillipsPreschool Teacher
Karen has been dabbling in teaching environmental science for about 33 years through the National Park Service, non-profit organizations, California Air Districts and as a school docent. Her BS Degree in Environmental and Systematic Biology led her to a nearly 15 year career working in inspection and enforcement for two air districts in California. She is entering her eighth year teaching preschool in a play-based school with a strong science emphasis, and she just completed an AS Degree in Early Childhood Education. In Karen’s free time she cares for several honeybee hives, gardens, watercolor paints, travels, and loves outdoor Dutch oven and solar cooking.
Brian Smith
Brian SmithKindergarten Teacher
Brian Smith is a kindergarten teacher at Oxford Elementary, which is part of Catawba County Schools. He also teaches in the education department as an adjunct professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina. He is proud to be have been named an ASCD Emerging Leader in 2015 and an understood.orgteacher fellow for the 2019-2020 school year.He has been married for 20 years to an amazing woman, Liz, who not only puts up with but appreciates his shenanigans and is the proud parent of a 15-year-old daughter, Ella.
Robin Dean
Robin DeanNana's Learning Post
My name is Robin Dean and I have been truly blessed to work in Early Childhood Education. I love to inspire children with a lifelong love of learning. I love to bring fun learning experiences to the children in our care. Watching children grow and bloom into confident, curious, and creative children fills my heart with joy. I truly enjoy sharing my passion about teaching young children with other educators so they can also create fun in their learning experiences. Being in an outdoor environment bring me peace as I breathe in fresh air, and listen to nature sounds such as birds, cicadas, and wind chimes (to name a few sounds). We soon learned that having an Outdoor Classroom helped children engage and focus on tasks better than inside four walls, and they were calmer as well, so it paired well with our PWPBS.
Alisha Kriege
Alisha KriegePWAP Brand Manager
Alisha Kriege is the Brand Manager for Play with a Purpose. She has been working with the Play with a Purpose brand since graduating college and recently received her MBA in International Business Management. Alisha has a passion for helping Early Childhood professionals enhance their classrooms and help find fun ways to keep PLAY in the classroom. Outside of work Alisha can be found hanging out outside with her husband, Greg or traveling the globe.
Preston Blackburn
Preston BlackburnFounder Pop, Hop, & Rock
Preston created Pop, Hop & Rock in 2000 when her children were preschoolers. What started as an exercise program has evolved into one that focuses on creating opportunities for kids to hone fundamental strengths and skills that allow them to develop physical literacy and build aerobic, core and other foundational strengths proven to make kids better learners. Preston believes that kids who are confident movers are also confident on the playground, sports field, classroom and most importantly, in life.
Cheryl Turner
Cheryl TurnerEducational Trainer and Consultant
Cheryl is a seasoned teacher trainer who brings passion, personality and extensive experience in the field of education to each and every training or presentation. Cheryl combines humor and "hands on/minds on" learning with practical strategies and relevant content knowledge. She conducts professional development workshops and trainings on a variety of topics, to include positive discipline, classroom management, building classroom community, differentiating instruction, language and literacy development, dual language learners, critical thinking skills and play based learning, to name a few. Cheryl works with the K-12 educator population as well as early childhood educators, directors and caregivers working with infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Here's the big idea: Helping build better teachers is the key to empowered teaching, inspired learning and student success.