By Jamie Rieger
The best play items don’t have to cost a lot of money and most often, it is those things that we all have lying around our homes that can bring out the most fun, not just for the young people, but for the entire family.
On Sept. 12, United Kingdom-based Pop Up Adventure Play tour group will be visiting Bow Island and Foremost to teach and encourage child-directed play using ‘loose parts’, items found around the home.
Pop Up Adventure defines child-direct play as “play that evolves when children choose what to play and make up their own rules for how to play. This means that we adults surrender — ourselves, our time, our space and materials — to the children and they take control.
Children’s play can take many different forms, and change direction quickly within the boundaries (known as frames) that the children create. It’s important that children are able to explore the whole play cycle – to create, use and destroy – at the speed and moment of their choosing without unnecessary disruptions. All expressions of the instinct for play are equally vital and valuable for the child at play.”
Terri-Lynn Arnal, Forty Mile early childhood development coordinator, said she learned about the Pop Up Adventures’ Canadian Tour while doing research for programming.
“Because we are a non-profit organization with a limited budget, I always try to do research and webinars that I could incorporate new ideas to the community, I watched an webinar on the Pop Up Play where I had to state what organization I was with and what city, and that we are very rural and run throughout the whole County of Forty Mile. and would like families to have some new and exciting activities, without traveling to far,” said Arnal. “Following that I received an email message asking more about our location as they are touring Canada and that their tour is for focussing on rural and low-income communities to help reach them.”
The whole concept revolves around allowing children to explore their imaginations using simple objects such as cardboard boxes, fabric, tape, string, and whatever else people have on-hand and are not using.
In the United Kingdom, ‘playwork is a professional field of study that provides opportunities and advocates for children’s play as an instinct and a right.
“Playworkers do not lead games or offer unsolicited praise or unasked for assistance. The playwork approach is fundamentally nonjudgmental, empathetic and reflective.
In playwork, adults wait to be invited before joining play. These invitations are known as “play cues” and can be verbal, a thrown ball or simply a mischievous grin. We respond wholeheartedly to the cues we receive, taking on the roles we are given and becoming another “loose part” for play. Our job is to support the children in a physical and social space which they can make their own,” reads a description on their website.
Some of the items that may be used for Pop Up Play are included on their Non-Shopping List:
-Cardboard boxes and tubes
Look in your cupboards and kitchen drawers:
– Cotton balls
-String and yarn
-Glue and tape
– Wooden spoons
-Old bedsheets and towels
Go check out the park! You might find:
-Acorns, branches and leaves
And treasure the weird and wonderful:
-Giant bottle caps
-Old computer keyboards
Materials can also be donated by community members and organizations.
“This adventure will help us all think out of the box; we don’t need to spend tons of money on toys and gadgets. We all have answered that pretend phone handed to us by a child. This is a time for some child-directed play time for everyone to use their imagination, with open-ended materials like cardboard boxes, fabric, tubes and tires, wood blocks, paint, best materials for play are unwanted, re-purposed or recycled materials, because they are free to be used (and used-up!) without being wasteful,” said Arnal.
She said the Forty Mile Early Childhood Coalition is excited to have Pop Up Play Adventures visit Bow Island and Foremost on their tour.
“We are very excited for them to reach out to us for one of their stops on their tour. They squeezed our stop in before their final days in Canada in which they are in a World play conference in Calgary,” said Arnal. “We want to let the kids be kids, learning through play is a big part of the development of many skills these children will need in the future. It is not just about a few hours of fun these children are building social skills such as concentration, co-operation, encourages the development of imagination, develops motor skills, and teaches self expression by giving them time to relax and let off steam plus so much more,” she said. “Everyone is welcome, but dress for play as it might get a little messy!”
The Pop Up Adventure Tour will be visiting Foremost and Bow Island on Tues., Sept. 12. For further information or to donate items for the event, contact Arnal at 403-581-7084 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org