Adventure playground to "pop up" on campus

Pop-Up Adventure Playground

Families and children are invited to the Student Recreation Center for a Pop-Up Adventure Playground on Saturday, Nov. 11, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The pop-up playground will feature re-purposed loose parts such as recyclable items, household wares, natural materials and items that are not sharp or made from glass.

Children will take over Saturday at BU’s Pop-Up Adventure Playground, operated by students and faculty, at the Student Recreation Center. There will be no charge for families and children.

Families are invited to bring their children (12 and under) to the recreation center on Saturday, Nov. 11, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Pop-Up Adventure Playground will feature re-purposed loose parts such as recyclable items, household wares, natural materials and miscellaneous items that are not sharp or made from glass. There is no charge to families or children to attend and attendees can come and go as they want.

BU’s Pop-Up Adventure Playground encourages inexpensive ways to play with everyday objects rather than commercial items. It allows children to make their own choices about how and what objects they will play with.

The playground will be operated by BU students and faculty. To execute a successful Pop-Up Adventure Playground, students and faculty are seeking donations of high-priority items such as cardboard boxes/tubes, duct tape, painter tape, child-friendly box cutters, plastic cups, sidewalk chalk, crayons, fabric carpet squares and wallpaper samples.

If you are interested in donating any of these items, please contact Michael Patte at


First-ever pop-up playground a big success

Play in America has shifted from an unstructured, child-initiated activity to one that is now predominantly structured and adult-directed. This is the issue Michael Patte, Ph.D., professor of education and child life specialist, explores in his article, “The importance of play on whole child development,” published in Child Life Focus.

“Children’s lives have become progressively more structured both inside and outside of school,” Patte says, “and I’m concerned about the implications it has for their development as a whole person.”

Patte transitioned from public school teaching to university teaching when he realized the decreased focus on play was taking some of the joy out of teaching. He described teaching as part art and part science, where the portion of art is steadily being removed. Transitioning to a university setting has allowed Patte to expand upon and teach the importance of play.

In 2010, Patte spent six months at Leeds Metropolitan University, United Kingdom on a Fulbright Fellowship. During this time, Patte was given the opportunity to learn more about child life specialists and the field of playwork, a profession focusing on the implications of noninterventionist, self-instructed play.

“I hadn’t any notion of what either of these professions were about,” says Patte, “but what drew me to both was that play was at the center, and that was the hook for me. Then I just needed to become a playworker. I needed to become a child life specialist. So I did.”

Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds use the playwork noninterventionist approach to play that provides children with loose materials to create and explore by means of self-initiated, open-minded exploration. Each playground “pops up” for a short time in a community setting where local children can enjoy this self-structured environment for free.

Patte and students, as well as Greek Life and other student organization volunteers, hosted BU’s first Pop-Up Adventure Playground on Saturday, Nov. 1., 2014. The goal of the event was to educate both children and adults on the topic of child-initiated play. BU students composed fact sheets for adults that clarify these lessons and illustrate their role throughout the Pop-Up experience.

“That’s a bit of a change, even for teachers,” Patte says, “When a child is experiencing some sort of turmoil or trying to figure something out, we have this tendency as parents and teachers to immediately try to intervene and fix the problem.”