Friday, 29 May 2015

10 Reasons Why You Should Register Your Independent Pop-Up Adventure Playground

By Morgan

We started hosting pop-up adventure playgrounds in 2010, and since then they've been held in Australia, Bogota, Cairo, New York…  in more than 14 countries all around the world, by Pop-Ups staff and by independent organizers.  The response to these events and photographs has inspired us beyond measure. We are proud to help connect organizers and play advocates with new friends - is that you, too?

Pop-Up Adventure Playground in Lakeville, MA.

We're often told that these images, of children playing in cardboard boxes, or happily climbing a tree, look very familiar to people. They might bring up memories from their own childhoods, or a time when children were more free to play outside. They are familiar because play is written on our bones, it's in our personal and cultural DNA. Sometimes people see pictures of events and think, this can't be so hard!  It's a bunch of cardboard boxes and kids, I can do that! That's wonderful to hear - we encourage every play advocate to start small, start local, and help make positive changes in the neighborhoods where they live.

So, if it's true that play can be easy, accessible, familiar - why not pause first to register a pop-up adventure playground?

Pop-Up Adventure Playground in Manchester, UK.

Here are 10 reasons why we believe that registering is your best place to start!

They're all rooted in the basic idea that a pop-up adventure playground isn't the same thing as play, but is a carefully designed form of provision. Pop-up adventure playgrounds help make play possible for children and adults, and as such organizers need specific kinds of support, training and information to be most effective. We are dedicated to offering these services to as many people as possible.

1.  It's free
You can make your event an 'official' pop-up adventure playground for exactly $0.00. We provide this service completely free, because we believe that play is a fundamental right for everyone, and want to help people connect around play.

2.  We're part of a heritage
We chose to name these events 'pop-up adventure playground' to emphasize the history and philosophy behind them. They draw explicitly on traditional adventure playgrounds and playwork theory - when you register, and use the phrase 'pop-up adventure playground', it shows that you want to be rooted in that tradition as well.

3.  It's best practice
If you're interested in starting to make change locally for play, you'll need to build relationships with partners, share information and credit for ideas, and work together with a variety of individuals and institutions. Partnering with us to deliver pop-up adventure playgrounds is a great place to begin, and will help make your event the best it can be, because we also provide...

4.  Your resource pack
You know the questions you have, about liability and materials and talking with parents? Those questions that visitors might have, about playwork philosophy and what, exactly, this event is all about? You're not the first! In fact, we've gathered a bunch of helpful materials to guide you through the process of gathering materials, preparing staff, reaching out to families and local businesses.

And if that's not enough, we also provide…

5.  Personalized support
Pop-up adventure playgrounds can be more complicated than one might think. We've spent years hosting these events in schools, parks, museums, galleries and more all around the world, and would love to talk you through the specifics of your setting and neighborhood over Skype.

6.  Connection to others
Many play advocates say they feel alone or isolated. We've found that pop-up adventure playgrounds can be a great way of building community, attracting like-minded people and building new connections. But starting out can be frightening, and organizers ask for a lot of trust from parks departments and other institutions. Local partners are often comforted to know that you have the support of an umbrella organization, and that there is extensive theory and planning behind these spontaneous, messy, glorious play events! We can help provide credibility and context.

7. Additional promotion
We'll link to your Facebook page, promote your events through our networks, and feature you on our blog. This is a great way to celebrate your successes, and broaden your reach!

8. It helps us to help you
We ask for a small amount of information when you register, always and only designed to help us track these events and to connect new organizers with one another. Wouldn't you like a new friend who's doing pop-up adventure playgrounds in Colombia, Costa Rica, or Australia?

9.  Additional information
Pop-up adventure playgrounds are designed to bring new play opportunities to public space and give organizers a tiny taste of playwork. Playwork is a decades-old approach to working with children, with its own distinct philosophy and methods. Although you might have provided children with similar materials as part of your parenting or educational practice, playwork is entirely distinct and those subtle differences matter.

When you register, we help you ground your event in playwork practice - this will help you engage with children and parents more effectively, and further your own personal and professional development.

10.  Did we mention it's free?
There are lots of different ways to support children's play, and you should find the one that suits you best. You can name your event anything you like, but if you're going to call it a 'pop-up adventure playground', please register with us first.  It might be the easiest decision you make today!

Pop-Up Adventure Playground in Costa Rica.
To register, fill in our simple online form which can be found here. To access Morgan's personal blog, click here, and to see where your Pop-Up will be promoted, come and visit our Facebook page!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Welcome New Tutors!

By Morgan

As you know, we're super excited about the Playworker Development Course, which we've been running for 2 years now, with 82 students from 12 countries. In March, we were shortlisted for the Playwork Training Provider Award at the UK National Playwork Conference. All these successes, and we're still growing!
"My tutor is empathetic, comprehensive, flexible, non judgmental, she helps me reflect on specific situations and offers extra resources according to my needs.  [My tutor] always seems to know how to support me." (Erika, student from Costa Rica)
We are very proud today to be announcing two new tutors into the PDC family – Michelle Jones and Ali Wood.

Michelle got into playwork after her first son was born, earning her degree in 2005 and then working at Play Wales, where she helped develop national play policy and infrastructure. Play Wales set the gold standard for play provision, and Michelle contributed to their national qualification standards.  She also  helped plan the 50th Anniversary International Play Association Conference, and closely supported the Pop-Up Play Shop project in Cardiff. Now she is a member of our Board, and manages a small voluntary organization called The Parent Network. She is passionate about children's right to play, and a warm and empathetic mentor.

Ali received her MA in Community Education (with distinction) from Birmingham University, and is the co-author of Reflective Playwork: For All Who Work With Children, out soon in its second edition.  She wrote the occupational standards and training materials for Play Wales and other UK training providers, is a qualified assessor and verifier, an experienced foster carer and the 2013 recipient of Best Training Provider at the Playwork National Conference.  Ali has another book coming out soon entitled Sex, Gender and Play, and is dedicated to helping more adults find their own ways to support discovery, magic and fun.

These are two extraordinary women who will bring new expertise and guidance to the PDC student community. They'll be taking students as of the 8th June, when Cohort 8? Begins!

Curious who the other amazing tutors are? We admit to extremely high standards, and are always looking for individuals who combine experience, training, as well as both academic know-how and frontline practice. We want tutors who really listen to their students, who are ready to learn about the possibilities and barriers student's own communities, so that they can support that learner in developing a unique playwork style. Our staff are more than tutors, they're mentors and we are proud to call them our friends.
“This course has changed my life, my son’s life and my family’s lives. I am now able to see childhood from another perspective. I've been able to recognize the importance of play in children for it’s own sake and for the additional values it will bring to them as adults.” (Mariana, student from Costa Rica)

Interested in finding out more? Aside from June, we will also have cohorts beginning in August and Octover. Visit our PDC webpage, and then email us to register - we're looking forward to hearing from you! 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

National Children's Day 2015

By Zan

We were excited today to be celebrating National Children's Day this year in Bradford. Andy, one of our Board members and I ran a little Pop-Up today! We did a little promoting, brought loads of loose parts, did a little staging and let the children come to us! Here are some photos:

We took lots of loose parts. We're not sure where the helmet came from but we had it!

The loose parts included these giant tubes which they loved throwing on the ground to make a really loud "PONK" sound.

There were quiet moments too - some very intensive creative things were done.

Children played together, giggled together, and drew together.

This brother sister combo made a sledge with their mum and took it in turns pulling eachother around the room.

This young lady saw some straws, declared she was making a kite, and then shouted me to go outside to see it in action!

It was a quiet little Pop-Up, but we saw lots of action, and lots of play. Andy and I were able to spend some quality time with the children as playworkers, and were able to be invited into play with our adult agendas placed to one side. I suppose that's what National Children's Day UK is all about. It's a day to celebrate the rights of children, and to put them first! Today we celebrated their right to play (UNCRC article 31), and through this opportunity we also exercised their right to choice (article 14), their right to speak their own mind (article 13), and their right to hang out with whoever they want (article 15). That's a lot of rights celebrated in one day, but it shouldn't just be a one day only thing - this should be every day.

We want everyone to know that Pop-Up Adventure Play celebrates children's rights, especially their right to play, every day.

Happy National Children's Day everyone - hope you celebrated with some play today!

To find out more about Zan, please visit her personal blog. If you want to find out more about Pop-Up Adventure Play, please like their facebook page or follow them on twitter. And of course you can visit our website on 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Popping Up in Newtown - Guest Writer

By Kelly Paredes

Kelly and her team are one of our independant organisers, running Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds to support their work in their community. She works with Ben's Lighthouse, an organisation committed to putting children first. Here is Kelly's account of their first ever Pop-Up.

After pulling the red pick-up truck into its parking spot, filled to the brim with recyclables and loose parts, I hopped out of the cab and took in a deep breath.  It was a picture perfect day, blue skies – puffy clouds, and vendors scurrying around setting up their booths. Despite the planning, networking and idea sharing that had gone into this day; I still had butterflies flittering around in my stomach.

Our volunteers had willingly stored loose parts in their basement and asked neighbors and employers to save boxes. Would today demonstrate how Pop-Up Adventure Play is directly in line with the mission of Ben’s Lighthouse?  The booth we sponsored at Newtown’s Earth Day festival was the ideal space to give it our first go.

It’s ironic thinking about the amount of planning that goes into popping up for a day. Inspired by all of the creative and passionate folks at the Ithaca Day of Play conference in October 2014, it was our turn to open up our youth in Newtown to a new way to look at play.

Guess what?  It totally worked.

As an organization, Ben’s Lighthouse’s mission is to foster all children’s potential to build a more compassionate and connected world.  We believe children become architects of a changed society by practicing empathy, self-awareness and volunteerism.  Each child’s contribution, small or large, is a benefit to self and society.  Where better a place to infuse and employ our mission?

Throughout the day, I scanned the area; and took mental pictures to see what was being created, as it was ever changing.  Some of the themes of the day included robots, towers and spaceships.  The pride and joy in the eyes of the kids as they showed their parents what they made was truly inspiring. There was so much excitement when they learned they could take home their projects.  One parent even had to bring a pick-up truck at the end of the day, her son wasn’t ready to part with his fort - there was more play to be had!

Other scenes from the day included wide-eyed parents, many remembering their youth and playing in the same way, as if this was a new opportunity for them to share their past with their children.   The amount of gratitude expressed by parents, the creative energy buzzing around all day with the kids, the sunshine and the loose parts – what more could you ask for?

If you would also like to host your very own Pop-Up Adventure Playground, sign up for your resource pack here! For more information about Pop-Up Adventure Play, check out our facebook page, our twitter and our website