At Pop-Up Adventure Play, we extensively discuss using everyday materials like cardboard boxes, wood scraps, fabric, rope and tape to create play spaces. Sometimes, play’s loose parts manifest in the ongoing narrative with a child, shaped by the immediate environment’s resources.

Pop-Up Adventure Play boxesMy particular focus lies in garden and nature play. Recently, I had a delightful visit with my two young nephews. The older one, approaching 5 years old, is deeply engrossed in dinosaurs, courage, baking, and sprinting. The joy of being an auntie is the gradual evolution of our relationship and the stories we share, evolving over the years.

Over the holiday weekend, our adventure featured our playful companion, the wind. We imagined raptors soaring and leaping off cliffs using a swing as a hang glider teleportation device, allowing us to dine worldwide. By Monday evening, we embarked on a neighborhood jaunt.

Embarking on a playful adventure hunt

Having cleaned our hands after digging for dinosaur bones in the playground’s sandpit and finding a mysterious fiber, likely dog hair, my nephew and I commenced a mystery hunt for adventure play clues, though our exact goal remained unclear. It was exciting nonetheless. Following our hunt, we discovered a leaf skeleton. Subsequently, we proceeded to the soccer/football field. Here, my nephew spotted a school friend. Their greeting was a shy, gentle extension of hands, exchanging quiet smiles. After his school friend departed with her sisters, I inquired if it was time to head home.

He said not yet…Wanna run in the wind?

Well, how could I turn down an offer like that? I followed my nephew’s lead, and we started running around the uneven ground. I then remembered the raptors from the other day and extended my arms to be wings, mentioning that I was pretending to be a raptor. He said, oh yeah, me too!!

We ran around, flapping to stay aloft when the wind died down and also to run up the inclines… We flew in the sky together….screeching raptor-like sounds. My nephew shouted instructions about where we were going next and also to watch out for holes in the ground as we swooped far above them. He led us to a safe haven (the soccer net) to rest and perch when we were tired. Once the wind really picked up again, we leapt off the cliff and soared.

One of my favorite people who works with children, the imagination, and our innate connection to nature is Richard Lewis of The Touchstone Center for Children. His work inspires me greatly, and I certainly felt like my nephew and I played along…just as nature intended.

by Sharon