Monday, 8 April 2013

A Week in the Life of a Pop-Up Person

By Zan

The last 7 days have been a bit busy, but in a really good way. I thought it might be nice to share some of the stuff we get up to on a day to day basis at Pop-Up Adventure Play as well as share some photos from my exciting week.

Monday
In the UK it was a Bank Holiday, and for me that usually means busy busy busy. I spent the preparing for the rest of the week which meant organising the garage full of cardboard boxes that I had collected together for the 3-day Pop-Up that we had organised in my local community. It was a lot of boxes, and to avoid an early morning panic the next day, I loaded up the car the night before so that I was ready to go the next day.

I like to organise the stuff in easy to carry boxes just so I know what I have before the session begins. It never looks like this after the session!

I also spent the day organising my paperwork for the week. We at Pop-Up Adventure Play know how important it is for children to get our undivided attention during any given session, but as a result, we are always super tired afterwards. To make sure I didn't neglect anything important, or forget to do anything on a time limit, I did it all on Monday so I wouldn't need to think about for the rest of the week. And also handed any remaining responsibilities over to another member of staff in case anything came up. And then I was ready!

Tuesday
I woke up nice and early to gather my remaining tools for the session. Couple of pairs of scissors, lots of tape, string, and risk assessments. I never go anywhere without them!

On arrival at the location, I signed in then unloaded the car. This always takes a while on the first day of any location but it's always worth it. There was a huge variety of boxes of different sizes and shapes. Providing this variety means that children have more choice and therefore have more scope for play - the basics of the Loose Parts Theory!

It was a quiet session. Only 4 children playing in intense short bursts punctuated with "Suzannnaaaaa" throughout the 4 hour session. It was wonderful to see, and exciting to be part of, such creative play. The highlight was watching a little boy play out his weekend watching his Dad fixing the roof at home.

"This is the chimney"

Wednesday
I was incredibly tired when I woke up on Wednesday. It hadn't occurred to me how hard I had played the day before, and how unfit I was. The combination of this gave me creaky bones in the morning and I turned up to the session like a walking, talking Zombie. I always find this happens though. Consecutive days of play usually makes the playworker super tired but that's okay. As long as the children are benefiting the most!

Today's session had a few more children. I had also accidentally poached some children from the activity next door (4 hours of cooking with under 2s... not sure why they hadn't thought ahead for that one) who came to me covered in flour but with amazing cheeky grins.

There was much more exploration and today than creation, which I am always very excited to see. What will happen when I throw these all over the floor? If I do it again will it do the same thing? If I poke this person with my makeshift sword will he fight back? Will I win if I try again? The children skipped through playtypes quicker than I could name them in my brain, but for good reason - they were doing things their way, and not for my benefit, and that makes me happy!

"What will happen if I take possession of a house that someone else has spent 2 days building?"

Thursday
It's tidy up day! But not before 20 children of all ages, races and sizes piled into my Pop-Up Adventure Playground. They had so much fun doing so many awesome and playful things. Houses were the most popular thing to make and they took to it with such gusto, energy and urgency. The adults piled in to help too, which is always encouraging, and I spend a few minutes talking to the adults about the real need for play, and how best to leave the children to their own business. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it and have a wonderful time.

The session is a-buzz with activity. It's awesome!

Usually at a session, I ask parents just to leave the tidying up to me, but this time they all mucked in and wouldn't take no for an answer. By the time everyone had left, I didn't have much to pack away. Just a whole load of recycling to transport to the giant bins at the back of the school, and a quick sweep of the floor. Tidy up day didn't end up being too laborious, and I wasn't too tired when I got home. Hoorah!

Friday
Unsurprisingly, it took me a long time to get going when I woke up. Luckily, I didn't have to be anywhere, and spent the day on paperwork and meetings. Oh yes, playworkers have paperwork too, and when you're running a charity too, it takes up a lot of time, and patience. It's all good though, lots of good conversations and connections made so that's nice. A marked contrast to 3 days of play, but it's all part of a playworker's responsibility for play advocacy.

Saturday
Day off. HOORAH!

Sunday
A visit to Plas Madoc Adventure Playground. There were three main reasons for going over to Wrexham for a few hours: 1) to see Pop-Ups friend Erin who's come over from the US to do some filming for a play documentary (absolutely amazing stuff), 2) to see my friend Claire to runs the adventure playground, and 3) to remind myself what all this work is for, and why playwork is so important, and embrace the career I have chosen in an environment for play that is simply choc-a-block full of possibility.

"The Land" aka Plas Madoc Adventure Playground. I think this one of my most favourite places in the world right now.

And so ends my slight-extraordinary-and-not-too-typical week at Pop-Up Adventure Play. Every one of our weeks is a little bit different, and I hope to be able to tell you more about our work as time goes on. Hope you've enjoyed the little insight into my world, and the wonderful adventures of Pop-Up Adventure Play.

To read more about Zan's adventures in play, please visit her blog. To find out more about Pop-Up Adventure Play, please visit our website and like our facebook page.

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