Students from Meadows Elementary School had a unique recess experience when they found a pop-up playground made from reusable material on their campus Thursday.
The play area, made up of cardboard, plastic clips and foil mylars, was brought to Meadows Elementary School as a way to encourage students to interact with kids using their imagination.
“It’s an alternative playground,” said Juliet Fine, principal of Meadows Elementary. “It’s unstructured, and gives kids the opportunity to collaborate with others, negotiate and build something out of nothing.”
The program was brought by the reDiscover Center, a Los Angeles nonprofit organization aimed to engage children with sustainable materials that spark creative thinking and learning.
“We really want to get kids to explore their creativity,” said Barbra Noren, director of programs with the reDiscover Center. “We focus on tool use which sparks a science-type of thinking and gets them to figure out how to make whatever they’re trying to make.”
Students were able to take cardboard boxes and cut them into shapes, pin them together with plastic clips and, like one student did, make kites with foil mylars. Markers were also available for students to draw on their creations. Among the creations were forts, crowns, flower bouquets, houses and, as one student said, “robot armor.”
Parents were present to offer assistance with cutting and pinning cardboard pieces together, help generate creativity and also offered moral support when the students had to say goodbye to their creations.
“We let them know that this is reused material, so they aren’t able to keep what they make,” said Fine. “We tell them it’s meant to be used by the next group of kids.”
Fine said the program would not have been a possibility if it wasn’t for the donations and volunteering made by parents. Richelle Boyd, a parent volunteer, said it’s a great program because students are learning without realizing it.
“I know future employers will be looking for critical thinking skills, collaboration, teamwork, social skills, these things that don’t really surface in the digital age,” said Stacey Hamblin, parent donor and volunteer. “So cardboard transcends all of it. It’s just play to them — but they are gaining these skills by doing so.”
This is the first time the program has been brought to the Newhall School District. The playground will return to the school every other week, and is anticipated to continue until May, according to Fine.
“In the world which revolved around technology, it’s important to get kids to cultivate imaginative play,” said Fine. “It bridges their imagination to the real world, and if we can take the time to do it here at school, then that’s what we’ll do.”