Every so often, when you’re walking through our Early Childhood Center’s hallways, you’ll notice they’ve been transformed into whole new worlds. They look different. They sound different. They feel different. They even smell different. We call them Hallwayscapes.
In the spring of 2016, the first Hallwayscapes came to life when several of our teachers returned from a study tour in Reggio Emilia, Italy – the place whose world-renowned schools inspire our philosophy that values children as capable, strong and rich with wonder and knowledge. They wanted to share the sights, sounds, textures and smells they encountered on their trip with the ECC community in an immersive way. Rather than taking an easier, more traditional approach relying on photos or text, our teachers experimented with multi-sensory installations over the course of a week, and they invited our families to come and interact with them.
Presentations included images of Italian tiles on the floor or of coffee beans hung on the wall next to a bin of fresh beans for children to play with. Audio recordings echoed through the halls while parents dropped off their children.
Energized by the success of this first week, these teachers took it upon themselves to periodically offer interactive and multisensory experiences, with an increased focus on opportunities for incorporating Judaism in conjunction with the Jewish calendar.
Just this past November, The Jewish Education Project, the only organization that works across the New York Jewish community – across denominations and institutional settings – to help educators develop new, innovative ways to engage and educate Jewish children, teens and families, awarded Stephen Wise a microgrant to support the ECC’s Hallwayscapes project.
“We recognize that learning doesn’t begin or end in the classroom; rather, it is the constant reality for young children through the many spaces they inhabit. As a result, we created Hallwayscapes, an initiative that has inspired joy and wonder within our community,” said ECC Director Miriam Kalmar. “We’re thrilled that The Jewish Education Project chose to support us in this work.”
Check out some photos below of our first Hallwayscapes since we received The Jewish Education Project’s microgrant!