Last week we brought you the story of the new Fernwood Elementary School, multi-age, nature based learning programs that are starting in just a couple of short weeks on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada. There are no students at school at this time of year, except perhaps the odd visit and kids playing in the playground outdoors, but inside the school is another matter.
We’re excited and nervous parents enjoying the last days of a deliciously warm summer, eager for the start of this new program to work well for our kids, the school and our community. Our daughter is going into kindergarten, our son into grade two and they will share the same class with a great group of their friends.
One piece of sage advice that we’ve been given over the years to help our kids transition into different experiences is to try and give them a safe, easy sample of the experience before they need to immerse themselves in it. We took the kids to the dentist long before they needed to go to the dentist so that they could experience being there without the pressure and expectation.
With this in mind, we wanted our kids involved in helping to install their new Natural Pod Tables and Benches and we wanted to make the experience a bit of a community building opportunity for some of the other parents involved in the new program. To help get everyone as excited about our kids having Natural Pod Tables and Benches in the classrooms as I was, we hosted a parent and kid furniture building party with the help of our school Principal Kelda Logan. Like many schools, ours is supported by union staff and we needed permission to be able to do work on the school grounds. Kelda kindly helped us secure approval from the local staff for us to be able to come into the school and be part of setting up the furniture with our kids. I’m grateful they did. It was a wonderful couple of hours fun and energy with many hands making light work to setup the 6 new Natural Pod tables and 24 benches that are going to be shared between two classrooms at the school.
We really wanted to capture the energy of the day so I took some photos again as I did during the visit to our production plant and I also thought this would be a great opportunity to capture a time lapse video so you could get a good sense of the fun that can be had if you involve others in the setup for your furniture.
One of the things we’re most proud of about our furniture is that its made from very high quality Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood. The wood used to make this furniture is from sustainably managed forests. The finishing and binding materials are non-toxic, odourless and contain no formaldehyde which is toxic agent that is very common in almost every other type of furniture of this kind. Our kids are getting great furniture for them to learn and play and on and that’s exactly what they started to do. Unprompted, the kids did what kids do. They started playing. Our tables and benches are very strong and can be used in all kinds of ways for table based group learning but because they are light and strong the kids themselves can move them around to great new experiences. The kids started right way making forts and slides, while they helped to finish each of tables and benches.
“The furniture looks amazing. It’s very beautiful and strong and wow, look at how the kids have started making forts with them right away. As educators we can see that the design of this kind of furniture fits well within our learning pedagogy and can help children experience learning through play.” Kelda Logan, Principal, Salt Spring Elementary
It was a super fun day. The kids were able to be part of the making of their own new classroom. They’ll be more comfortable when they enter into the first days of class having spent time in the school and knowing they were part of making their own tables and benches. It was a proud father moment for me. My own kids, their friends and some of our good friends all working together to create a smart and sustainably made learning environment using products from a company that I’m proud to be a partner in. Our business goal is to help put 1,000,000 kids into this kind of play environment over the next 10 years so that many more children can get to enjoy these same kind of great play and learning outcomes.
I’m going to check in with the Fernwood classes again in a few weeks to see how the new tables and benches are holding up and how the kids are getting to use their new space. May you all enjoy the last days of summer and have a safe and positive return back to school for all the students in your care,
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