Pop-up Reading playground meant to spark kids’ imagination

  • Rachel McDevitt/StateImpact Pennsylvania

Penn State

Students and educators at Penn State Berks plan to host a pop-up cardboard playground in Reading on November 9, 2019.

(Harrisburg) — A temporary, cardboard playground in Berks County this weekend is meant to inspire children to direct their own activities.

Penn State Berks Professor Meghan Owenz said kids have lost roughly 12 hours of free play per week since the 1980s. That’s due to several factors, including increased academic pressure at a young age and families allowing more screen time.

Owens said unstructured play is an important learning tool for children.

“While it seems like play with cardboard boxes is trivial, it’s really not because it’s an opportunity for the kids to process what’s going on for them and be in charge of their lives and an opportunity for families to bond together and have fun in an uncommercialized, free, fun way,” Owenz said.

The pop-up playground will offer basic materials like boxes, sheets, and art supplies to let the kids put their imaginations to work.

“There’s sort of an old saying about toys,” Owenz said. “The more the toy does, the less the child does. And the less the toy does, the more the child can do.”

The event will also give Owenz’s students studying human services a chance to put classroom knowledge about children and families into practice. The students will supervise as children build and create whatever they want.

The playground at the Reading Recreation Commission is scheduled to run from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, November 9. Kids are welcome to take home their creations.

It is designed for children ages 5-12 in Reading, but is free and open to the public.

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