Friday, 27 November 2015

Pop-Ups On Tour 2015 - Hong Kong

By Zan

Reaching the 6th country on this epic world tour felt a little bit like going home. I had somehow forgotten that simply going to "see my family" in Hong Kong also meant that 8 people would come and pick us up at the airport, and that tiny cousins would invite themselves into our room to chat incoherently but enthusiastically about their day. This was play infiltration at it's core: working your way into community so seamlessly that it takes people a few moments to realise that you are visitors invited into a space. Clearly, I had traveled halfway round the world to come home.

And such plans we had for my HK home! After a few days of rest and tourism, we had two consecutive days of Pop-Ups! One of them was right in the heart of the village, on the road, in between rows of residential homes. With the help of my extended family, we set up an abundant Pop-Up Adventure Playground which saw around 80 folks come through. Here are some pics:

My cousins made an archway to draw attention to our event.

Somebody donated a mattress, and the children really enjoyed hanging out on it.

The maids were the real stars of the show - they really enjoyed constructing houses to start the play and then gracefully stepped back as the children joined in. They were amazing.

The grand finale happened when we brought out a giant tarpaulin and everyone joined in with the waving, rustling and bouncing of things.

We were also really pleased to be able to connect with Louise and Lily who had been working in mainland China and came to visit us in Hong Kong for the day. They were able to connect with Playright who also popped by for a visit and we all talked excitedly about play in Hong Kong - such passionate people here! Interest in play is growing in HK and we were excited to hear about it!

On the second day, we popped up at my family's church. The congregation had collected a load of loose parts together for us and it was amazing to find an old rice cooker, some old fashioned mop heads and novelty Christmas baubles donated to play. The play was explosive, and almost deafening at points inside the church hall, but it soon leveled out into some pretty intensive play. Here are some photos:

This was a train.

This parent invented a game with his kid - it involved rock paper scissors then the bottle caps moved. They really got into it and when the winner was declared they cheered!

Some inventive bowling was happening here.

This is my favourite memory. This little boy pulled the most expressive faces as an impromptu drum circle formed. The louder people played, the more excited his face would become! This happened for roughly 20 minutes before he decided finally that he wanted to make some noise too.

As I watched my little cousins do their homework at 10pm the night before I left, I really hoped that the Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds would be the start of something great in Hong Kong. I really hope that parents would see this inexpensive way to play and allow for children to do the same in their own homes. I really hope that everyone would see the benefits of play and stop over-scheduling children, and expecting their little selves to grow up so quickly. I really hope that we will be able to once again visit Hong Kong and hear more about how interest in play is growing, and see my little cousins have the chance to enjoy being children.

To read more from Pop-Ups Zan visit her personal blog. To follow our adventures around the world, please visit our facebook page or follow #PopUpsWorldTour2015

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Pop-Ups On Tour 2015: Singapore

By Morgan

Time on the road goes faster than in other places, and our stories are running a little bit behind, but here they are for you now.

We were in Singapore for only 6 days, delivering one full-day workshop and 4 pop-ups. The first 3 were in partnership with Playeum, and the last with South Central Community Centre, all arranged skillfully by our Singaporean friend, Sirene with help from Days of Play's Louise.

Playeum is a newly opened children’s museum in the converted Gillam Barracks, a quiet area with trees and art galleries. Inside, children can send their lego vehicles hurtling down a ramp, explore changing art exhibits and build imaginative constructions in a maker space. We were stationed out front, with a selection of loose parts and all set to play with the school groups scheduled to visit. It was a younger crowd than we usually see, but they played just the same. Suzanna welcomed the groups as they arrived, kneeling down to tell the children that they were free to play here and then looking up sternly to remind the adults to take a step back.

We set out cardboard boxes with lengths of fabric to suggest forts, which the children then totally ignored. It happens! Instead, the children blew puffs of air down a hosepipe. They heaved tires into the air and giggled as they rolled away. By far the most popular things were a red plastic chain that rattled and writhed on the ground, and an improvised water play area.

There, the children dipped small buckets and splashed their hands. It was refreshing on that hot, sticky day. We’d also brought empty containers from those fancy coffee machines, and one child came up and asked “is this a tiny bucket?” We nodded and he ran back to the others. Using the same ‘tiny buckets’, two small girls had a miniature water fight, taking turns to pour teaspoons of water onto each other’s perfect pigtails. In a perfect semi-circle of observation and photography, the adults watched and laughed.

There’s something amazing about working for children in such a young country. During the full day workshop we met some passionate educators, curious to learn more about play. As always, we incorporated time for them to play as well. Pretty soon, one woman was swathed in gauzy layers, sitting cross-legged and making predictions as her giggling friends brought offering dishes of cotton balls and bottle caps. Looking past them and through the window, I saw a tire roll downhill and a few moments later three teachers go racing after it. Others gathered armfuls of cardboard and laid it down a slope behind the building, taking turns to slide down.

Afterwards, in groups and privately to us in pairs, they shared how powerful this experience had been. Some played like this as children, but others never had. It felt beautiful, said one. It felt free.

Our last session was at the South Central Community Centre, where we saw some of the workshop participants in their professional setting. They were so proud to show off their gorgeous facilities, and we were so impressed by what we saw! As a token of our appreciation, we had bought some lengths of fabric to hang as swings. The same red plastic chain proved popular again, but this time for teenagers eager to test their high jumping skills!

Those few days in Singapore showed us a country poised to learn more about play, and ready to help children get the chances they need for self-directed fun every day. It’s clear that they have a battle ahead, as there are extraordinary academic pressures on children and limits on outdoor space. Some of the individuals we met are also facing up to their own unmet needs, but finding the process of supporting play incredibly and immediately rewarding. Helping them get started was incredibly moving, as one participant took us to the side afterwards and said “thank you for bringing joy to our community”.

To read more from Morgan, please visit her personal blog. To follow us on their journey around the world, please visit our Facebook page or follow #PopUpsWorldTour2015.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Pop-Ups On Tour 2015 - Playworkers Gotta Play

By Zan

At every workshop, we ask participants a question that almost always stumps them: how do you play? There's always an awkward pause. No one makes eye contact and the whole room seems to think. Is it really that difficult to answer that question?

To us, it seems logical, almost crucial to the role of a play advocate to take some time out and experience play. Without that experience, you aren't able to fully appreciate the essence of play. Without full immersion once in a while you won't be able to fully understand the importance of play for children.

So at every workshop, we encourage the adults to play by giving them an opportunity to take part in a mini Pop-Up Adventure Playground. In Australia, just as it has been for all the other locations we have been to, the adults have responded really well to being given a tiny window to do whatever they want - Morgan wrote a little about it last time we blogged. Here are a couple of other images from workshops we've done in Australia:

This was a workshop in Orange, NSW, Australia

This was taken at our workshop in Perth, WA, Australia

The need to play is present in every single one of us. Some of us might need larger doses of it than others - children most of all need heaps of it. But we forget how important it is sometimes. Sometimes we are too busy being grown ups and raising grown ups to remember that we need play, and our child needs play. So remind ourselves why we need make play a priority by going out to play!

Here at Pop-Up Adventure Play, we would like to encourage everyone to play every day. Even while we are busy on our World Tour, we have managed to fit in some moments of play, after all, we playworkers still have to play! Here are some of photos from the past few weeks to inspire you:

We visited a Botanical Garden (USA)

We made friends with the locals (Costa Rica)

We explored new and exciting foods (Australia)

We experimented with photography (Australia)

We went to the beach (Australia)

Your moment of play doesn't have to be long - it can simply be lingering over a cup of coffee, or singing in the shower. But it could be much longer - like exploring a new part of a city, or indulging in your hobbies. Whatever your play is, you need to be doing some of it every day so the next time we ask you how you play, you will be able to answer right away!

If you'd like to find out more about Pop-Ups Zan, please visit her personal blog. To find out more about this tour, please visit our Special Tour Page or follow #PopUpsWorldTour2015 on twitter. To keep up-to-date about our adventures, please like us on facebook.