By Margaret of The Lion and The Mouse
Margaret and her team first approached us in April 2015 to run their own independent Pop-Ups by registering with us. Since then, two of their staff have joined our Playworker Development Course and they have been running Pop-Ups since then. Here is a lovely blog post from them, written by Margaret about their adventures in Montreal.
In the space of a few short months, we fell under the spell of pop-up adventure playgrounds.
After being asked to host a series of kids activities as part of a local festival last summer, we came across Pop-up Adventure Play and adventure playgrounds. It was immediately clear that this was the way to go for us as educators in our community. At The Lion and The Mouse we strive to promote child-led play and learning in addition to forest school principles, so finding a vehicle to bring this out into the community in a fun way was perfect.
At first, children would arrive and ask us, “What are we supposed to do?”. Their parents often shared the same expectant look. They were waiting for us to teach them, to wow them, to share our expertise. “What are we supposed to do?”, they would ask. “You’re a kid, play!”
At times it took some coaxing and a lot of explicit permission for the kids to start playing. We found that playing ourselves was the best way of extending an invitation without pressuring them to be creative, funny or productive. We wanted to give the kids room to be themselves. And they were.
With the success of our pop-up play sessions, we couldn’t help but incorporate pop-up play in our everyday work with the kids in our playschool. Over the span of a few months, our kids (and educators) went pop-up crazy. It’s now a regular sight to see us hauling large cardboard tubes and other “recycling” to our outdoor meeting places or for our indoor space to become a maze of cardboard boxes over the course of an afternoon.
We regularly raid our building’s recycling and have parents bringing us their toilet paper rolls and yoghurt containers. What can I say? Once you see a pop-up adventure playground in action, there’s no going back.
Perhaps what I have learned most through all of this is to think more deeply about the invitations we do or don’t extend to children. What cues are we giving them beyond our words? Do they ever see us play? Explore? Create? These are all part of the pop-up play process. Just as adults try to model good behaviour for their children, modelling the kind of exploration and learning we want children to feel free to engage in has immense value. When we can remove ourselves from the pressure to be good at everything, we can offer children a true and heartfelt invitation for play and let them take us places we never could have imagined.
To run your own Pop-Up Adventure Playground, register with us here. To find out more about Pop-Ups near you, check out our Facebook page. For more information about our organisation, check out our website.