Movement-Inspired Life Learning pop-up park a hit with children

MACOMB — Messy fun was the name of the game at a pop-up adventure playground put on by the Macomb Park District Thursday morning.
In the dappled shade of some large trees near the Glenwood Park pool, young children a few years apart in age played with unlikely objects: drainspout tubing, cardboard, an old car seat, a hanging swing, large cable spools and bright non-toxic paint. There, they used their respective imaginations to build and tear down bridges and forts, and constructed their own “telephone” system using the tubing. Many came away dabbed or smeared in paint. All seemed to be enjoying themselves and engrossed in their play.
Facilitators at the event were there to ensure children’s safety, rather than to intervene. For the most part, the children seemed not to need it, instead asking one another for help and coordinating their efforts. There were no raised voices, and disagreements dissipated in moments as children became involved in other pursuits when one hit a dead end.
District employee Whitney Christophe said this was how the children had been handling their disagreements much of the morning. At other times, a “peacemaker” would emerge from within the group to help put the play back on track peaceably.
Superintendent of Support Services Neil Armstrong said in an earlier interview that a goal of the pop-up playground is to teach children these exact skills: how to work together, and how to solve problems.
The pop-up park is a child play concept that emerged in Europe after World War II when children were left with bombed-out buildings and no playgrounds. Adults noticed the children inventing new games and forms of play using the rubble and objects left behind. The trend took root in Europe, and eventually made its way to the United States, with several adventure playgrounds across the country, including one in Champaign-Urbana, near the University of Illinois.

Reach Michelle Langhout by email: mlanghout@mcdonoughvoice.com