By Sarah McCalden

Sarah first approached us about Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds about a year ago. Her enthusiasm for the model, and her can-do attitude was refreshing in busy London. We are very pleased that she has found an opportunity to have a Pop-Up in her community, and are very grateful that she has found a few minutes to reflect on her first Pop-Up ever.

As soon as I found out my son’s school was going to hold a summer fayre, I asked if I could organise a pop up adventure playground for the kids.  Once I got the go-ahead I just dreamt about the possibilities…  Well, the summer fayre was on Friday after school from 3 until 6 and the adventure playground was a major hit with the kids.  I asked specifically for this spot with the wooden structure already in place.  Climbing is so much fun!

It started off quiet of course, and I had a bit of a panic inside, wondering where all the kids were!  On the other side of the building to the right there were food stalls, raffles, face painting, enterprise stalls etc… That was the main draw, or so I thought!  My son’s school is only a couple of years old so there are only young children, up to the age of seven attending.  I brought things that I thought would appeal to them.  I tied ribbons to a pink rope and hung it between the posts– all different sizes and textures as I thought some of the younger children might enjoy the sensory experience.

I called up a local tyre company and asked them if I could pick up some tyres – they said yes – and they even offered to deliver them to the school.  I set up the tyres initially in a stack and on the floor in a hopscotch kind of pattern.  I thought the kids might enjoy that to begin with and then they could do what they liked with them.  The two boys in this photo were throwing tennis balls into the tyres and keeping score with each other.  
These guys stacked the tyres and then hopped in.  The tyres were a major hit with the kids, as you can see.  So many different children used them for their own purposes.  They were stacked, rolled, jumped in, sat in, built with, used in hide and seek games.  It was great to see the children having so much fun and I have to say it was great to see some parents joining in and playing with their children when their children asked them to.  

There are so many ways to play with tyres!
I had loads of cardboard boxes, but only had enough time before the event started to set up a few.  I cut a couple of doors in one, set another one up like a tunnel and taped down one end of the other box and put them between some tyres to hold them steady as it was quite windy.  Of course once the kids arrived… it all got rearranged!

I also brought other bits and pieces with me:  lots of fabric – big pieces and much smaller one too, wallpaper, some cardboard tubes, a few skipping ropes, chalk, stencils, sticks and bubbles.  I also borrowed a ladder from the school and put in the middle of the site.  The boys mostly used the tubes as weapons… one boy told me his was a grenade launcher and then he shot me!  Of course I fell to the ground in absolute agony!  Another used his as a telescope to see other galaxies.  

The thing I love about this is that all I had to do was bring the loose parts to the playground and once the kids arrived, they took ownership of the space and got on with their business.  They were truly free to do what they wanted and play!  I loved just watching and photographing them getting on with their friends and having a great time together and I loved that I could make that happen for them.

To run your very own Pop-Up Adventure Playground, we have a bunch of resources available to you. Simply register your interest using our online form and we’ll be in contact. For more information about what a Pop-Up Adventure Playground is, please visit our website