Project Profile: First Foundations
This progressive Jewish Community Preschool has fully embraced using their environment, furniture and materials to create engaging learning invitations and to enhance their teachings. To find out more, we had the wonderful pleasure of speaking with the executive director, Alisa Daly, of The Beth Sholom First Foundations Community Preschool, and hearing more about her vision and how it came about.
Alisa shared with us that when she had her first child and was looking for a preschool, unfortunately, there weren’t any Jewish Preschools near her that offered a child-centric experience rather than a teacher-directed one. She wished her son to learn and develop through play, exploration, and inquiry, not only educator-led teachings. It was Alisa’s vision for such an environment that laid the foundation for the creation of First Foundations. She wanted to create an inclusive environment that focused on the whole child, where all children are seen as capable, are encouraged to be creative and curious, and have the opportunity to connect to nature. And she has achieved this beautifully. A big part of the school’s program is also to offer an enjoyable introduction to Jewish learning. Here is where Alisa used the physical environment to create learning invitations by setting up play areas with materials that illustrated stories, teachings and celebrations. By sharing Jewish learning in this way rather than the more traditional route of circle time for example, where children sit still and absorb information, the result was a much more enjoyable and meaningful experience. Educators could listen and learn which parts of the teachings resonated with their young learners and expand in those areas through further play and inquiry.
When we asked Alisa why she had chosen Natural Pod furniture to outfit the Preschool she exclaimed, “We simply would not be able to support the vision and values of the school without this beautiful, natural furniture.” She feels strongly that the natural wood and beauty of the pieces, along with their versatility, directly lend themselves to creating wonderful play and learning opportunities for her students. As you can see from the photographs below, the educators and children use the furniture in all kinds of engaging and imaginative ways to greatly enrich their play, learning and social experiences.
It is beautiful to see Natural Pod furniture being used to its full capacity as it is at this Preschool. We often say our furniture is like a canvas where children bring the color, and that’s exactly what these lovely photos show. Natural Pod pieces are not delicate, they are meant to be used, and moved around, and turned over, and thoroughly enjoyed while supporting and enhancing everyone’s creativity.
Thank you to Alisa for sharing her story and vision, and being such an inspiration to educators and parents.