Thursday, 21 March 2013

play = potential

By Anna

These days, when I see a cardboard box, no matter how flattened it is, squashed between fifteen other boxes in a garbage bin covered in dirty snow, I see potential.

When we afford children the freedom to do whatever they choose with ordinary open-ended materials, one of the messages we send is: You have potential and the things around you have potential. There is possibility beyond what we can currently see or touch.

In her book The Having of Wonderful Ideas, Eleanor Duckworth writes about the process of teaching and learning, and makes the case that when we allow children the freedom to have their own wonderful ideas (to make meaningful connections based on their own understandings) we support intellectual exploration to the fullest capacity. She writes, “Having confidence in one’s ideas does not mean ‘I know my ideas are right’; it means ‘I am willing to try out my ideas’.”

How useful this is in life, how empowering it is to possess the willingness to try out ideas to play through something we are curious about. How satisfying it can be to recognize the potential in the everyday “stuff”, the very ordinary world around us. Unfortunately, opportunities for children to engage in this process are few and far between.

My own two daughters are almost 7 (shocking!) and 3.5 years old. They are both at school and I am buried at the library, working. But, when I pick them up, in the midst of dinner, homework, baths, and their passionate arguments about personal space and property, I will try to hold onto this idea of potential. Not the vision of the future, of what my girls will become or what they should be learning now for the sake of tomorrow, but of the potential that is all around us in the moment - today.

And when my girls covet other people’s recycling, when they pull me by the arm across the street so they can show me the amazing treasure they’ve spotted in someone else’s bin, I think I understand real joy. I understand that they see potential, too.

There must be six hundred different words that we could associate with play. For each post, I will choose one.

play = potential

This is the first in a series of short written pieces from Anna on play. To find out more about our work, please visit our website and like us on facebook.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Pop-Ups @ The National Playwork Conference

By Zan

This time last week, Morgan and I were roadtripping down to Eastbourne, right on the south coast of the British Isles. We were on our way to the 11th National Playwork Conference, hosted by Meynell Games. Both Morgan and I were presenting twice at the conference, so people had 4 different opportunities to get a little Pop-Up awesomeness into their lives. Not only that, because Morgan received the Playwork Writer award last year, she was asked to present an award at the 4th Annual Playwork Awards this year. It was a marvelous occasion, with great food and brilliant company.

Here are some photos of our conference adventure:

Everyone helped to make this giant swing in the main hall of the Winter Gardens. It was our play.

This is Morgan preparing for a session. She may not have had enough coffee here yet.

Much more coffee later, Morgan catches up with Bob Hughes.

This was in my session, "Playing Through Toy Crazes". These lovely people are making their very own pet rocks.

This is Morgan presenting the award for Training Provider.

And this is the Winter Gardens main hall. Isn't it beautiful, with balloons and chandeliers?

The trouble with traveling with me is that you have a lot of photos of yourself in my camera, and this is true of Morgan this time! I know she's not always very pleased about this.

The Eastbourne Playwork Conference was fantastic for both myself and Morgan, and I hope it was for the other 298 delegates too. A big thank you to everyone who helped out and a HUGE thank you to Meynell and his team. I definitely hope to come back again next year and once again connect with a hall full of fantastic playworkers.

For more about the conference from Zan's point of view, have a little peek at her blog. For photos and fun from Pop-Ups in general, please come visit us on Facebook.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Berkshire's Ten Days of Play

By Morgan

It drives Suzanna mental that I go off on Pop-Up Adventures and then fail totally to write them up as blog posts – which means that I am now proud both to share images from my recent trip to Pittsfield, AND to get them online!

A couple of weeks ago I was at the Berkshire Museum to provide training and event support for their Ten Days of Play (part of the area's 10x10 Upstreet Arts Festival). They're an amazing institution, open since 1903 and dedicated to "making inspiring educational connections between art, history and natural science".

I got there early on Wednesday, to meet and chat with the staff team before the first session. When I stopped at the coffee shop opposite, I found our listing in the local newspaper! 

They'd gathered lots of great materials from local businesses and bought crates of bright blue duct tape.

As part of our training, we had some play time for the new playworkers. Craig, who had brought us to the Museum in the first place, made this extraordinary robot which he later “walked” down to visit his colleagues in the offices downstairs.

You can see a time lapse video of much of the first session, covering our training/playing time and the first busy patch, then a brief rest and some quick re-staging of materials.

I was there for the first four days, helping the museum staff gain confidence and experience as new playworkers.  Families came from all over the area to play, explore and create - there are lots more fantastic images on the Berkshire Museum Facebook page!

The museum staff and visitors were wonderful - so warm and welcoming and enthusiastic.  It was an amazing program, an absolute joy to be a part of.  Thank you, Berkshire Museum - I hope we can play again soon.

To read more about Morgan's adventures, please visit her blog. For more on Pop-Up Adventure Play, find us on Facebook.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Pop-Ups Fund Raising @ Manchester Fort Game

By Zan

Yesterday, Pop-Up Adventure Play held a fund raising event! We teamed up with gaming store Manchester Fort Game and made it a whole evening of awesomeness.

I have worked at Manchester Fort Game on and off for some time, and when they found out that I was part of the Pop-Up Adventure Play charity, they were very impressed. So impressed that they really wanted to support me by coming up with a charity event. First, senior sales assistant Ash suggested we do cosplay for charity, then store manager Simon took the fund raising idea and ran with it. The resulting event featured auctions, tournaments, challenges, cake, the Gamebeast and cosplay.

And so to the pics!

All our dressed up staff. Hoorah! :) The Link is meee!

Look at all the action! Fifa competition, Kick Ups, Mario Kart racing, friendly banter, cake and auctions! Hoorah! :)

And of course, there will be play advocates out there who think that this event might be a bit ironic. Yes, video gaming gets a bad press sometimes, but it can enrich a childhood too. A good chunk of my childhood was spent drawing landscapes for Sonic the Hedgehog scenes on paper and on cardboard and then trying to re-enact them. Video game play can enhance experiences beyond the screen and when there is a good balance, then it can make free play even more exciting.

We at Pop-Up Adventure Play can't thank the folks at Manchester Fort Game enough for their support yesterday. They donated time, space and loads of effort in setting this up for us and promoting the event. Gamebeast too really supported our cause and donated a party experience that fetched the highest amount all night at the auction. And of course, a huge thank you to everyone who came. We wouldn't have raised so much money without you.

We are very proud to announce that our fund raising effort raised just under £300 for Pop-Up Adventure Play! Hoorah! We really couldn't be happier. And it's all thanks to wonderful, wonderful people.

Every penny that was donated at the Lock In last night will go towards our work with children across the world. For more information about our charity, please visit our website, and for more photos from the evening, check out our facebook page.