Benjamin Mardell


Professor Ben Mardell speaking at podium

Ben Mardell, professor in the early childhood programs in the Graduate School of Education, is currently on leave from Lesley to serve as the co-principal investigator of the Pedagogy of Play (PoP) project at Project Zero, a researcher organization at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. PoP aims to help educators bring play and playfulness into the heart of school learning experiences. Currently, Project Zero researchers are collaborating with educators at the International School of Billund (Denmark) to create tools and practices around playful learning. The project is expanding into South Africa to understanding how playfulness can l support learning in a variety of cultural contexts. More information about PoP.

About his work, Ben says: I am interested in all aspects of early childhood education. Children as citizens—the idea that young children are capable of creating and communicating complex ideas and that adding their voices to civic discourse enriches classrooms and communities—is the focus of much of my current work. Using this lens to intentionally combine curriculum and professional development with advocacy has led to exciting results (see Places to Play in Providence: A Guide to the City By Our Youngest Citizens). My research also involves creating learning groups in the classroom and staff room.


AB, Brown University
MS, Wheelock College
PhD, Tufts University

Selected Publications

  • Krechevsky, M., Mardell, B., Rivard, M. & Wilson, D. (2013). Visible learners: Promoting Reggio-inspired approaches in all schools. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Krechevsky, M., Mardell, B. & Romans, A. (2014). Engaging city hall: Children as citizens. New Educator, 10(1), 10-20.
  • Sachs, J., Mardell, B. & Boni, M. (2014). Storytelling, story acting, and literacy in the Boston Public Schools: An Interview with Jason Sachs, Ben Mardell, and Marina Boni. American Journal of Play 6(2), 173-189. 
  • Mardell, B. & Krechevsky, M. (2013). Making learning and learners visible: Children as citizens in the here and now.….
  • Mardell, B. (2013). Boston Listens: Vivian Paley’s storytelling/story acting in an urban school district. The NERA Journal. 49(1), 58-67.
  • Mardell, B & Carbonara, R. (2013). A research on the Reggio Emilia Approach and children’s learning outcomes. Innovations. 20(3), 6-19.
  •  Krechevsky, M., Mardell, B., Filippini, T., and Gardner, H. (2012). The power of the group: Making learning and learners visible in early childhood classrooms. In B. Falk (ed.), In defense of childhood. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Mardell, B., Fiore, L., Boni, M. & Tonschell, M. (2012). The rights of children: Policies to best serve three-, four- and five-year-olds in public schools. In T. Swim (ed.), The Hope for audacity: Recapturing optimism and civility in education. New York: Hampton Press.
  • Mardell, B. & Carpenter, B. (2012). The Making Learning Visible/Ready To Learn Providence Peer Network. In G. Perry (ed.), Our inquiry, our practice: Undertaking, supporting and learning from teacher research(ers). Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
  • Mardell, B. (2002). Growing up in child care: A case for quality early education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Mardell, B. (1999). From basketball to the Beatles: In search of compelling early childhood curriculum. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Selected Presentations

  • Mardell, B. (2014). Children are citizens. St. Paul’s School’s Educational Conference: Sao Paolo, Brazil.
  • Mardell, B. (2014). Using documentation to support learning: Playing Malaguzzi’s ping pong game of curriculum. St. Paul’s School: Sao Paolo, Brazil. 
  • Mardell, B. (2014). Children are citizens: Enriching curriculum, professional development and advocacy in early childhood education. Invited keynote address for the Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children’s Annual Conference: Westford, MA. M
  • Mardell, B. (2014). Storytelling/story acting: A joyful way to promote children’s language and literacy development and classroom community. Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children’s Annual Conference: Westford, MA.
  • Mardell, B. (2014). Conversations for learning and democracy. Wheelock College: Boston, MA.
    Damion, N., Frederickson, E., Nason, M. & Mardell, B. (2014). Storytelling/story acting for all. Lesley Innovations in Early Childhood Education Series: Cambridge, MA.
  • Ripley, K., Sullivan, M., Nicolaou, K. & Mardell, B. (2013). A mentorship of comedy: infants, toddlers and teachers co-construct classroom culture. National Association for the Education of Young Children Annual Conference: Washington, DC.
  • Mardell, B. (2013). Paley’s storytelling/story acting in the Boston Public Schools: Puzzles and possibilities. Open University: Milten Keynes, United Kingdom.
  • Mardell, B. (2013). Translating Reggio ideas into practice. Beacon Hill Nursery School: Boston, MA.
  • Mardell, B. (2013). The underlying principles of the Focus on Kindergarten curriculum. Boston Public School Kindergarten Conference: Randolph, MA.