Quite without me realising, pop-up adventure playgrounds have become quite popular in my community. I am obviously delighted, but boy has it been busy! Here are some little reflections of some of those events this month:


1. Radcliffe Market 3rd May

Four Pop-Ups in May

The 4 of them did not know each other, but in that moment, they had become a team. They discussed, stuck and poked and assembled what they decided to be a Pop-Up Cinema, complete with screen and screen times. I was invited to a screening of Spiderman. They then decided the cinema needed air conditioning so they poked a bunch of holes into the roof of the box. And then the screenings continued.


2. Accrington Town Square 4th May

The children of Accrington at play

The children in Accrington confidently navigated the loose parts, while some adults hesitated. Despite a slow start, the site buzzed with activity, complemented by a festival backdrop. Intriguingly, the children mostly disregarded the music, fully immersed in their play. Only occasionally did a catchy song phrase briefly capture their attention, prompting a quick diversion before returning to play.


3. Manchester Monastery 6th May

children at play Manchester Monastery

There was an urgency from the children in this play space: they had limited time and wanted to do everything. So the play was intense and focused, and there were a few little meltdowns. Understandable really – the rhythmic beats that echoed through the hall gave a feeling of great excitement but almost counted down to the event’s end even before it had began. The children played hard, and you could see the spark of joy in their eyes, that would hopefully keep on blazing brightly at home.


4. Radcliffe Boys and Girls Club 7th May

kids at play with cardboard box

“I am a box troll” he said from within the box. He poked his head out and grinned: he was so pleased with this creation. The rest of the kids in the space were busy doing their own things: there was a Girls Club, a car, an intricately made boat, and a house, a Boys Only Club, and then a dancing robot. And then a buzz of activity flattened most things until there was only a boat left. There were protective tears over the boat that meant that it’s cardboard was reinforced with pure grit and determination, and then the session ended. The boat walked home.

Pop-Ups Zan has been working in her community to provide free play opportunities for children. If you are based in Manchester and would like to find out more, check in with this Facebook group.

By Zan