Recent Articles

Our journey working with schools and early years settings

July 2nd, 2021|0 Comments

I’ve always had a passion for supporting children’s learning, this passion is what led me to train as a teacher. I absolutely loved my teaching career and I look back on it with fantastic memories. When I had my second child in 2016, it was evident that I would not be able to continue teaching whilst my children were little. There just wasn’t the flexibility in a teaching career that I needed to be around for my family and this was when our Pop Up Play Village journey started!

In the summer of 2019, we decided that we wanted to be able to link Pop Up Play Village with learning in schools. It is an extremely educational role play village where every role play area was designed with a focus on what the children are learning whilst they play. We decided to create EYFS and KS1 curriculum planning which enabled any of our role play areas to be taken into schools and early years settings to teach most aspects of these curriculums.

Once the planning had been created, I had that buzz to get back into schools and early years settings to pilot our curriculum plans and I was not disappointed. In the Autumn of 2019, I started working fortnightly at a local preschool and then in January 2020, I also starting working weekly in a FS2 class in a local primary school and I am still in both of these settings today! Being able to go into settings and work with the same group of children has been incredible and because I am there regularly, I can see the benefits that the children get from learning through role play.

So, what are some of the benefits of educating children through role play?

The most noticeable benefit of learning through role play is the excitement that it brings children to want to learn. When the children come in and see what play areas have popped up for them each week, there is a class of children wanting to get stuck into learning which is just what is needed to achieve high quality learning.

The role play areas and opportunities for learning within them are targeted at a specific age group and what they need to learn when we go into educational settings. We work with each setting to plan sessions that are following key learning objectives that they are currently learning in school or following a specific topic to enhance their learning further. For example, for children in a FS2 class who are just learning to write, there are writing opportunities in every play area. This enables the children to practise their phonics and early writing skills in a relaxed environment where they are writing for a purpose.

What I have noticed from working with the same groups of children is that their play develops over time and the children challenge themselves further as they become more familiar with each role play area. This independent child led learning through first hand experiences is such a powerful way to learn. The beauty of it is that the children don’t even realise that they are learning, they think they are just playing.

Another major benefit from learning through role play is that it is a very sociable way to learn. Children develop the skills to work alongside and with others, it encourages team work and develops children’s communication and language skills. This is all done in a play based way again for a purpose making it easier for children to be able to develop these skills.

Role play is truly an amazing way for children to learn, it enables them to learn from first-hand experience, it gives them opportunities to learn about the world around them and test out ideas in a safe and relaxing environment. It is also lots of fun and a great way to stimulate a class of children to learn.

If you would like to find out more information about our work with schools and early years settings, do get in contact with either myself at hello@popupplayvillage.co.uk or contact your local franchise for more information.

Written by Becky Hoare

Creator and Franchisor of Pop Up Play Village

Maternal mental health, it’s okay not to be okay

May 11th, 2021|0 Comments

It was maternal mental health week last week and it is mental health awareness week this week and one of our franchises Janine who owns and runs our Wokingham Henley and Ascot franchise has written a blog about her maternal health and that it’s okay not to be okay. Thank you, Janine, for sharing your own experience. We hope you find it useful.

Here I am the day after having Sophie, my eldest. We were finally meeting for the first time as she had been in special baby care. She was born by emergency c-section at full term (39 weeks) but was born small at only 4lb 12oz.
We (us and the Doctors) didn’t realise that my placenta had stopped working around 31 weeks due to me having the onset of pre-eclampsia and Sophie had stopped growing for the last 8 weeks. The first sign we realised something was wrong was when my waters broke and it was full of blood and meconium.

My Husband knew something was wrong and rushed me to hospital. Next thing I know I’m being taken into surgery because Sophie’s heartbeat was weak. She was born by emergency c section and taken to BUSCOT which was the special baby unit in RBH. We were told how lucky we were that she had held on that long after my placenta had stopped feeding her.

The next few weeks and months were a bit of a blur. Not only was I coming to terms with becoming a Mum, but I was trying to reconcile what had been a traumatic experience and take on board everything that had happened, the potential damage that it had had on Sophie and manage constant hospital appointments. Tim and I were so tired as we were on a rigid feeding plan for Sophie to fatten her up and ensure she didn’t have to keep going back into hospital.

It’s funny, when you go through a traumatic experience such as a car crash or you hurt yourself and have to have surgery, people immediately ask you if you’re okay, but when you’ve had major surgery such as an emergency c-section, people don’t tend to ask the same question as there’s a positive outcome: a little baby to coo over. No one stopped to ask Tim how he felt too as he had to manage and rush between wards comforting his wife who’d just had major surgery and visiting his newborn baby in intensive care.

Was I depressed? No.

I’ve always been very strong minded and been able to get myself mentally out of any low point and have such a wonderful supportive Husband.

But was I okay? Far from it.

I felt so grateful that Sophie was alive that I tried not to wallow and worry, but secretly I longed for the wonderful birth stories that I had heard from other friends, I longed to dress my baby in pretty little outfits like the other Mums & their babies, but nothing would fit, I longed to erase that night of her birth (and felt guilty about that) and I longed for and worried whether my baby would grow bigger and hit milestones just like any other child. These worries sometimes consumed me. I wish I hadn’t worried so much as she’s now 6, clever as anything and one of the tallest in her class!!

Despite all these worries, when asked if I was “fine” there were many times I just said: “I’m fine”. I was trying to hold it together and prove to everyone, including myself that I could do it all.

So, I just wanted to say that it’s okay not to feel okay, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re depressed or a bad Mum or a failure; it means you’re human. I can say and recognise that now in hindsight.

And if you ever ask how someone is, and your instincts are telling you different when they respond with “fine” …then do something about it!

You have the power to help someone.

They might not want to tell you; they may not want to admit it and say it out loud or there may just be so many things that they honestly don’t know where to start. They may even think their worries are not even worthy of your time.

Think about what you could do to help them. It may be as simple as dropping a hot coffee to their doorstep or offering a sympathetic non-judgemental ear. It’s often the little thoughtful things that really make the difference.

I’m always free for a chat and my inbox is always there if you need me! No, really, seriously…PM me.

Janine x

Our Brand New Diddy Villagers Play Sessions!

March 26th, 2021|0 Comments

What is Diddy Villagers?

Our Diddy Villagers play sessions or Dwty Villagers for events running in Wales are exclusive play sessions for prewalkers. A great way for prewalkers to get immersed into the world of role play and socialise with children of their own age. 

How are our Diddy Villagers play sessions different to  our standard role play play sessions?

At Diddy Villagers play sessions, all of our play areas are floor level to make them accessible to all. We use the same high quality equipment to create our role play areas with the removal of any tables, chairs and wheeled toys that we would usually use at our standard play sessions. This enables all prewalkers to be able to access all play areas and there aren’t any resources to tempt any climbers making it a safe way for little ones to explore and enjoy engaging in role play activities. 

Prewalkers are also very much welcome at our standard role play sessions too and we do always have play areas suitable for them to explore at these sessions. The main difference between the two is that the Diddy Villagers sessions are only for prewalkers so it gives babies an opportunity to explore the whole play village with children of their own age and at their own pace. 

How are our Diddy Villagers play sessions run?

Our Diddy Villagers play sessions are run in a very similar way to our standard play sessions with the focus on exploratory play. When you arrive at one of our Diddy Villagers play sessions, you will be welcomed on arrival and then you can choose where you would like to play! If your little one is not yet moving, you could spend some time in each play area and move around with your baby exploring and having fun in each area. If your little one is on the move, there is the freedom for your baby to explore and move to where they want to play in a fun and safe environment.

Exploratory play is a great way for babies to learn about the world around them and for them to socialise with other babies too. The way our play sessions are run enables an opportunity for parents and guardians to get to know each other too in a friendly and relaxing environment. 

What do babies learn through role play?

As well as being lots of fun, there are so many learning opportunities for babies through role play. Just like with older children, role play enables babies to learn about everyday situations and experiences and how the world around them works. Although, they are not acting it out or using speech in their play, they are still learning these skills.

Whilst playing in our role play areas, babies are learning how to interact with others which is great for exploring new situations, learning and understanding what words mean, when to use them and they are learning how to use their own voice. Your baby may communicate to you through babbling or a smile or through eye contact. This is all important learning for them and learning through play.

Role play is also great for babies to develop their concentration in a fun. sociable way with others. For example in our construction site play area, you could be using the bricks with your baby to build a tower. Getting your little one to focus their attention on the tower and then the fun of knocking it down is great for developing their concentration. 

Role play is brilliant for developing a baby’s fine motor skills such as learning to pick up toys and pass a toy from one hand to the other and to reach for toys. As a baby gets older and starts learning to crawl or walk, they are developing their gross motor skills. Role play is fun and encourages babies to want to move and explore the objects in the role play area. Maybe they will be handling toy food in our cafe play area and passing it between their hands, or perhaps putting role play items into bags or bowls in our supermarket.

How to book a Diddy Villagers play session?

Tickets for our Diddy Villagers and Dwty Villagers play sessions are limited and do need to be booked in advance. To find out if your local Pop Up Play Village franchise is offering these play sessions and to book, do have a look on our website event page: https://popupplayvillage.co.uk/events/

We can also offer exclusive Diddy Villagers play sessions such as for a first birthday celebration. Do contact your local franchise for more information on availability and pricing. 

If you would like any further information about our Diddy Villagers play sessions, do not hesitate to contact your local franchise who would be more than happy to help.

Written by Becky Hoare, Franchisor and Creator of Pop Up Play Village

Outdoor Activity Ideas for Half Term Fun!

February 10th, 2021|0 Comments

It’s nearly half term! With us being in lockdown it is very restrictive on what we can do with our little ones so I’ve decided to have some fun outdoors with my kids next week.

My oldest absolutely loves being outdoors, I only have to mention it and he is at the door with his wellies and coat on but my youngest is more reluctant in the cold weather and is quite happy to stay indoors. This means that I have to get creative and make it as much fun as I possibly can. I thought I would share a few of my ideas for having fun outdoors and hopefully they will be great fun for half term.

My first activity idea is one of my favourites and my daughter absolutely loves it which is to make a mud kitchen. You don’t need a mud kitchen to do this activity. Just a place where there is some mud or use a bag of soil and get out a few utensils and some pots or pans. Then, kids will use their imagination to make whatever they like, it could be a mud pie or a chocolate milkshake! Leaves, sticks and natural items outdoors can be used in the creativity too.

Another great outdoor activity is to make a bug hotel. To make one, you need either a toilet roll or a milk bottle (with both the top and bottom cut off). Then put the sticks and leaves inside. You need to keep filling your bug hotel until the sticks are in there so tight that when you lift it upside down, none of them will fall out. When you have finished, place your bug hotel somewhere on the ground preferably in the shade or in a bush for the bugs to find. The items for the bug hotel could be collected on a walk making it a fun scavenger hunt too.

My final outdoor activity suggestion is to play Kim’s game outdoors. First, collect six to ten items that are easily found outdoors. Then, let your children look at the items for a couple of minutes to try and memorise them. After this, hide them or cover them up and the challenge is to remember the items and go and collect them themselves. This game can be played many times with different items and you could take it in turns to be the leader of the game. This game could also be played when out on a walk too.

I am really hoping that we get some nice dry weather for half term but if not, we will still be out with our waterproofs on enjoying the great British weather! I hope that these activity ideas are useful and that everyone has a lovely, restful half term.

Written by Becky Hoare, Creator of Pop Up Play Village

What do babies learn through role play?

January 25th, 2021|0 Comments

Watching a baby’s development and growth is truly fascinating, something that I do miss since my own two children have grown up. The time goes too fast and they learn at such a rapid speed.

So, what are babies learning whilst role playing at home with an adult or sibling or when at a role play session?

Babies are learning how to interact with others which is great for exploring new situations, learning and understanding what words mean, when to use them and they are learning how to use their own voice. For example, you could set up a teddy bears’ picnic at home for your baby with some soft toys and some toy food. By role playing giving one of the soft toys some food, this is fantastic for teaching your baby how to interact with others and the language that you use will develop your baby’s understanding of what words mean and how to use their own voice. Your baby may communicate to you through babbling or a smile or through eye contact. This is all important learning for them and learning through play!

Role play is also great for a baby’s concentration. Babies usually concentrate for short periods before getting tired but as they get older, their concentration develops. Using objects in role play enables babies to develop their concentration in a fun. sociable way with others. For example using bricks to build a tower and then knocking it down. Getting them to focus their attention on the tower and then the fun of knocking it down.

Role play is great for developing a baby’s fine motor skills such as learning to pick up toys and pass a toy from one hand to the other and to reach for toys. As a baby gets older and starts learning to crawl or walk, they are developing their gross motor skills. Role play is fun and encourages babies to want to move and explore the objects in the role play area. Maybe they will be handling toy food and passing it between their hands, or perhaps putting role play items into bags, boxes or bowls. Navigating around the space and holding larger objects like tables, chairs, kitchens and cars.

Just like with older children, role play is great for imitating everyday situations and experiences such as a role play café or a vets or a supermarket. Babies are learning what to do in these situations and discovering how real life works. Although, they are not acting it out or using speech in their play, they are still learning these skills and learning about the world around them.

I am very passionate about babies learning through role play as it was something that I experienced greatly with my little girl who is now 4 years old. I created Pop Up Play Village and started running events when my daughter was 7 months old. I was running events most weekends and she regularly attended play sessions. She grew up with Pop Up Play Village. She especially loved the café which is still one of her favourite play areas today! When she was a baby, she loved the toy food and loved sitting in the café chairs with support. She would spend ages putting different food on her plate and then moving it to other plates and in and out of the box. She was fascinated with it and as she was being weaned at the time, the role play helped with learning how to eat and about different foods. In the construction site, she loved to watch others stacking bricks on top of each other and started to do this herself. She loved knocking down towers too, lots of laughter with this game! One of my best memories of running Pop Up Play Village play sessions when she was little was when she started to learn to walk with one of our construction site wheelbarrows and used it to get to other play areas independently, a very special moment.

Role play for children of all ages is such a powerful and fun way to learn and even from the age of a newborn, learning is taking place. It is fascinating to see children of all ages role playing and all benefiting and learning from it at their own level and developmental need, a great way for children to learn.

Written by Becky Hoare

Creator of Pop Up Play Village

Pop Up Play Village has a lot to offer

June 4th, 2020|0 Comments

As we move through the school year, parents across the country continue to juggle home-schooling with work as well as managing all the other household routines and await a safe return to school. But in the meantime for those with younger children, help is at hand from Becky Hoare – founder of Pop Up Play Village – the place where imaginations go wild and children learn through play.  As a mum of two, former teacher and role play expert, she is uniquely placed to help parents keep children entertained, engaged, and learning in the confines of their homes. 

“My kids are my number one priority, so looking after them and developing their learning has had to come first,” explains Becky.  “I’m lucky as my business is family-based, supports educational learning and my children – aged 3 and 6 – are in the age group that I work with.  This has made it much easier for me to juggle this exceptionally tricky load and it is why I’m sharing my ideas with other parents too.

All the activities I design are easy to do at home.  They involve things you’ll have around the house and you can easily substitute one thing for another.  And perhaps most importantly right now, they’re adaptable, so you can tailor the level of learning to the age and ability of each child.  My most popular one to date has been the ‘create your own office’. First, we made a laptop from an old cardboard box.  My son wrote out all the keyboard letters which was a great way for us to practice his handwriting and phonics.  We then made a phone with all the numbers.  My daughter decided she wanted her office to be a bank so out came the money, the till, and the chance to do some maths.  Another big hit was the factory.  My children decided to build a sweet factory using Lego.  We then raided our recycling for old boxes we could use to store the sweets and created some amazing designs and handwritten labels.  Watching their levels of engagement and the way they worked together on this one was fantastic.”

Sounds like child’s play for Becky and certainly more productive than a daily battle over the latest online learning resource.  So why does role play work when other methods fail? “Learning through play is one of the best ways for children to learn,” explains Becky, “it comes naturally, gives them space to be creative, imaginative and inventive and it’s fun.  Best of all, they don’t even realise they’re learning at all.”

Becky’s role play activities are posted here daily: www.facebook.com/PopUpPlayVillageUK/

Published in the Primary Times

Link to view the article: https://www.primarytimes.co.uk/news/2020/05/pop-up-play-village-has-a-lot-to-offer