Pop-Up Adventure Playground in Canterbury

I wanted to kick things off here with one of the first big events I ever conceived of and ran with Sydney Creative Play. When we moved into our Canterbury space I liked the contrast of an urban warehouse along the idyllic Cooks River. It also opened us up to a lot of indoor/outdoor opportunities.

The first time we really made use of this massive space was when we held a Pop-Up Adventure Playground. Now, I didn’t invent this concept by a longshot. They’ve been happening all over the world throughout the last decade or so. Here’s some great resources on the subject.

However, it’s the first one I ever attended (and possibly the first in Sydney but don’t quote me on that).

The concept is pretty straightforward: fill a space with stuff, let the kids create. However, I did learn some things that could help events like this run more smoothly:

  • Have designated and visible volunteers. After this one I started wearing a hi-vis vest to similar events so that it was easy for kids to know who to ask for help. As always, some parents will be more hands-on and some will really step back.
  • Have volunteers in control of two highly important items: scissors and tape. I can’t count how many times I was asked for these. Since you’re likely dealing with a lot of cardboard, safety scissors won’t cut it, so you’ll need “grown up” scissors on hand, and it’s a good idea to have someone watching over them. Stock a few different kinds of tape – masking tape they can rip themselves, and duct tape for your heavy duty construction.
  • I prefer to leave paint and glue out of these events. The clean-up is full-on as it is. Liquids take the mess to a whole new level. Markers are a fine artistic substitute.
  • It’s great to have a variety of large and small items for working both gross and fine motor skills. We put a lot of our big stuff (cardboard boxes, large spools, old furniture) outside where kids loved rolling their creations downhill and running around in cardboard race cars.
  • Inside, fabric was a huge hit. Kids loved making their own costumes and creating structures.
  • Consider the ages in your audience. Our pop-up was fairly unique in that SCP has always been geared more towards kids under 5. Given that demographic we opted not to use tools like hammers and screwdrivers. (Some of these pop-ups even use saws! I consider myself pretty “free-range” and even that makes me gasp a bit.) But if you’re looking at a primary school audience, these items are a great addition.
  • While we’re on safety, make sure that your advertising is clear on the expectations of the event, but you’ll still need some precautions in place. Make sure that you have parents/carers sign a waiver (we called ours a “play at your own risk” form) and of course that you have the proper insurance, etc. It would also be good to ensure that you have at least a few volunteers with first aid training, and a first aid kid handy. And if you’ll be outside, sunscreen.
  • Have fun! That’s what it’s all about. I tried not to go in with too many expectations, and kids never cease to amaze me with how they can look at paper towel tube and see so many possibilities for play.

Have you ever attended or been involved in a pop-up adventure playground? Want to run one in your area? If I can help in anyway I’d love you to get in touch 🙂



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