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Our Story: Meet the Team

What is PILEA Play?

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Named after the PILEA plant, also known as the pass-it-on plant,

PILEA Play is an inclusive space for children and their caregivers to discover

and share their unique gifts with their community. 

PILEA is also an acronym for the opportunities you can expect to find at PILEA Play. 






Playful Inquiry is the process of investigation and discovery through play. 

Learning is what happens when children are supported to engage in playful inquiry. 

Expression is when the child shows what they have learned, how they have learned

and/or what they know to be true. 

Arts are the media with which children express their knowings and feelings. 

At PILEA Play children are offered a curated space to become

meaning-makers and storytellers,

sharing their unique gifts with the world.  

What Inclusion Means to Us

Deaf/Hard of Hearing owned and operated, inclusion isn't just a catch phrase at PILEA Play. We pride ourselves on doing everything we can to create a welcoming and accessible environment for all children and caregivers.


Our space is carefully designed by an early childhood special education professional with intentional thought given to the experience of each child that walks through our door including:


  • Materials that mirror the backgrounds, abilities, and identities of our visitors.

  • Materials that are diverse in sensory input, required cognitive load, physical demand and more.

  • Open floor plan with open shelves for easy access of materials, interest based centers, access to calm spaces throughout, and attention to visual and auditory stimuli throughout

  • Smaller space (1000sqft) and smaller group sizes than most other play spaces.

  • NUT-FREE policy to create a safe space for children with life threatening nut allergies.

  • American Sign Language fluent owner/operator.

  • Individualized curation of the play experience based on your child's preferences (lowering lights and music, twinkle lights &/or galaxy projection in our sensory space, changing materials in the sensory table, level of direct interaction from our staff, etc). 

  • A strong belief that ALL children have ideas and talents that our community needs.


PILEA Play is committed to being anti-racist, LGBTQIA2S+ friendly, and welcoming of neurodiversity, as well as utilizing trauma-informed practices to support children of all backgrounds, identities, and abilities.

Meet the Founder


Elizabeth Shuler-Krause, M.S, M.A.

Elizabeth moved to Portland in 2010 after graduating from the University of Oregon with a Masters in Early Invention/Early Childhood Special Education. A lifelong learner, Elizabeth  returned to graduate school in 2015 to get another Masters in Deaf Education.

Elizabeth is a Deaf/hard-of-hearing bilingual (American Sign Language and spoken/written English) professional educator with over 15 years of experience in a early childhood education systems, including project management, technical consultation and training, research, facilitation and coordination of commissions and workgroups, legislative work, advocacy, early intervention/early childhood special education and academia. 

Elizabeth believes wholeheartedly that every child deserves high quality, rich, early learning experiences that allow them to reach their full potential. 

In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys playing and creating with her two children

and taking long walks with in nature with her pups. 

Our Values

  • A powerful image of the young child as intelligent, creative, and capable with gifts and abilities that the world needs.

  • A belief that children learn through play and discovery in harmony with thoughtfully crafted, rich learning environments and in relationship with others, ideas, and materials. 

  • The understanding that connection comes from the courageous work of leaning into our differences, making mistakes and doing repair work, in brave spaces where vulnerability and empathy are valued.

  • A belief that listening dialogue, and exchange open doors to unimagined possibilities.

  • A belief that the arts are languages that inspire creativity, imagination, and expression of feelings, ideas, and knowings.

  • A belief that all children have the right to rich, high quality, immersive early learning experiences where they can investigate feelings, ideas and connections. 

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