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Laying Foundations

Building well

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the importance of foundation blocks for learning.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the children if they know of any building work going on nearby.

  2. Ask the children to imagine that someone wants to build a building such as a new house or some offices. Ask the children what that person would need to do before the building could be built.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  3. Explain that the person would need to buy the land, get planning permission and arrange for contractors to carry out all the work, such as clearing the land, digging and laying foundations and beginning to put up the building.

  4. Point out that clearing the land to prepare for the foundations of a building is a big job.

    Show the images of a crane, a bulldozer, a digger and a forklift.

    Ask the children to identify the construction vehicles and describe what each one does. You may like to ask the children to describe instances where they have seen these vehicles being used.

  5. Show the image of land cleared for building.

    Ask the children if this land is now ready to start building on.

    Explain that if a building was built directly onto the land, the building would probably collapse. Buildings need strong foundations if they are going to last.

  6. Show the images of foundations.

    The word ‘foundations’ is defined as ‘the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level’.

    Foundations are usually made of stone or concrete and cannot be seen when the building is finished. They take time to build and are not particularly attractive. However, they are extremely important. The builders need to get the foundations right, otherwise the building will not be safe.

  7. If available, use the building blocks to build a tower. Show the children how wobbly the tower is and how easy it is to knock it down when there are no foundations in place.

  8. Explain that foundations are being laid every day in school. However, these foundations are not made of bricks and cement; they are made of ‘learning bricks’.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to think of examples of learning bricks. Ask them to think about what the foundations of learning could be.

Answers could include letters, phonics, numbers, counting and so on. These are basics on which we build all other aspects of literacy and numeracy. However, there are many other learning bricks, too: learning to make friends, share, care, help and so on. All of these are foundations for life. They develop our characters and attitudes and determine the way in which we build our lives.

Optional: read the Bible passage, Matthew 7.24-27.

This passage encourages us to build our lives on good foundations. Christians believe that two important aspects of doing so are loving God and loving other people. They believe that these are the best foundations for living their lives and that when the storms of life happen, these foundations will keep them strong.

Dear God,
Thank you for a new year.
Thank you for all the opportunities to learn and explore new challenges this year will bring.
Help us all to work hard and to take the opportunities that come our way.
Please help us to be brave.

Publication date: January 2019   (Vol.21 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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