Our first Pop-Up went beautifully. The sun was gorgeous, at least fifty families came and as far as I can tell the only problem was we somehow didn’t have enough boxes for everyone.
Inspired by my online course and volunteering once with the people at Pop-Up Adventure Play, I have been wanting to organise Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds myself for a while. It feels good to have the first one finished!
Through the process of organising this day, I have met new neighbours who are eager to donate supplies to the next event. I’ve met a manager of a local grocery store who personally drove over boxes to my house and is eager do it again. I’ve also deepened a relationship with a mum of one of my former key children (I work in Early Years). I also met great like-minded people for the first time who came to the event as volunteers. Who knew that bringing boxes, tape and “bits” to a park could help start and strengthen so many new relationships?
During the event itself I heard many adults having that same conversation, “remember how we used to play when we were kids?” This is an important conversation that I hope to spread with future pop-up playgrounds & trainings. Play, especially much of the play that I witnessed today in is essential for every child’s life and development.
As an Early Years practitioner for the past 10 years and counting I can tell you in detail about how child-directed play builds young children’s brains. It is not necessarily that complicated though and it is no mystery why this event went so well. Children are hard wired to muck about, figure out things for themselves, construct, imagine, wonder, learn things first hand and through trial and error. They just need the time, space and freedom to get on with it.
Cardboard boxes, tape, scissors and junk (or “loose parts” as us play nerds like to say) are ideal toys for children because there is no wrong way to play any of it. I saw a baby today having a great time rubbing her feet on a flattened box. I also saw teenagers making things much more intricate. Glasses cases that I bought for 10p each at the Meanwood Community Shop served as Barbie beds as well as musical instruments with a few pebbles in them. An added bonus children playing with boxes and loose parts is that there are no adults around to tell them how to play with it.
HUGE thanks to Isabel, Vivian, Anzir, Lauren, Becky, Pav, Ian and Tim for helping keep things running and for packing up at the end. Also thank you to all the adults and children who brought things back to the top of the hill when they were done with them!
This is currently an all volunteer effort. If any one is interested in helping plan future pop-ups or possibly help get funding, please email David at firstname.lastname@example.org.