Friday, 29 January 2016

Pop-Ups with A Lion and A Mouse - Guest Writer

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 blogpost 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 yogurt 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 behavior for their children, modeling 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

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Happy New Pop-Up Year!

By Morgan

Happy New Year!

We all have our favorite holidays, and this one is mine - well, tied with my birthday, of course!

It’s a little cheesy to say that this is a time of reflection, a chance to consider the year ending and make renewed commitments to the one opening before you. Luckily, I love cheese! Cheddar, brie, and sentimentality sprinkled all over my sparkling new 2016 calendar.

In 2015, Suzanna and I were lucky to spend a considerable chunk of time in each others company, from September to December living, eating, wandering, dreaming and scheming side by side. It was an astonishing year and one we’re very proud of.  It was also the launching point for all sorts of plans which we’ll unfold here before you, like a bolt of bright cloth, in the weeks and months to come.

Suzanna and I are both spending a little more time in 2016 focusing on our PhD work. We’re working separately but both under the supervision of Prof. Fraser Brown. I’ll be in Texas, doing fieldwork at the Parish School, and occasionally blogging about that experience here, and Suzanna will be settled in the UK, blogging about her playful life here. We’re taking a year off from major tour plans - but that doesn’t mean we’re slowing down! All our plans are focused on increasing the ways we can build support and encourage play advocates, and strengthen community links all around the world.

Our first announcement is a more official relationship with Pop-Ups friend Erin Davis, director of The Land! We’ve partnered with her before to deliver film + workshop events in the US, and participated in Q&A panels after screenings in Philadelphia and Ithaca. Now, we’re going to be taking the film to select locations in the UK, and providing printed material within the DVD packs. We couldn’t be more excited about this, and want to encourage anyone who is interested in screening The Land with additional training or conversation support to get in touch with us or Erin directly.

We’re also going to be expanding our training offer, but oh! On that one my lips are sealed for a little bit longer.

Wherever you are, whether you’re reading this in the middle of winter or in summer’s heat, know that your friends as Pop-Ups wish you a bright, healthy, happy and, yes, playful 2016! Tell us how you’ve been celebrating, and share your stories with us here.

To read more from Morgan visit her personal blog here. To see regular updates from us, visit our facebook page or take a peek at our website