‘Pop-up playground’ comes to Meadows Elementary

Students at Meadows Elementary School had the opportunity to engage in creative play while exploring a "pop-up playground" Thursday morning. February 20, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

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.

Meadows Elementary Students Avalon Tarlow, right, and Jacob Patton exercise their creativity at a “pop-up playground event” on their campus Thursday morning. February 20, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“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.

Meadows Elementary Students Isaiah Kennedy, left, and Gavin Sztapka, right, exercise their creativity at a “pop-up playground event” on their campus Thursday morning. February 20, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“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.”

Meadows Elementary Student Dylan Haggerty exercises his creativity at a “pop-up playground event” on his campus Thursday morning. February 20, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

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.”

Mya Nguyen, left, and Sophia Negron, right, work on a cardboard box craft project at a “pop-up playground event” on the school’s campus Thursday morning. February 20, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

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.”

Meadows Elementary Students tries on a space helmet he built out of cardboard at a “pop-up playground event” on their campus Thursday morning. February 20, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

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.

Parent Volunteers , Liz Guadardo, Richelle Boyd, Jesse Trost, Maria Urbina, Sandra Smith, Qiana Tarlow, Stacey Hamblin, and Kevin Howard, join Meadows Elementary School Principal Dr. Juliet Fine in putting on a “Pop-up Playground” event where students are encouraged to engage in creative play. February 20, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“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.”

Meadows Elementary Student Jake Kelly exercises his creativity at a “pop-up playground event” on campus Thursday morning. February 20, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

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.”

Meadows Elementary Students Ava Gettings, left, Mia Flores, middle, and Rebecca (Reba) Carreras, right, exercise their creativity at a “pop-up playground event” on their campus Thursday morning. February 20, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

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