Cardboard + Community + Creativity = Pop-Up Playscapes

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Remember Caine’s Arcade, the video that went viral about a 9-year-old in East

Caine Monroy with his Arcade. (Image credit: Caine's Arcade)
Caine Monroy with his Arcade. (Image credit: Caine’s Arcade)

L.A. who built an amazing arcade out of cardboard? Now imagine dozens of kids like Caine meeting up in one spot with tons of cardboard and permission to build anything they can imagine. What do you think they could create if they worked together?

We’ll find out this summer! We’re inviting all of Portland to join us for Pop-Up Playscapes on Monday, July 22nd at Kennedy Park and on Saturday, August 31st on the Eastern Promenade.

At these FREE, first-of-their-kind events, people of all ages will meet up to build the ultimate fort-meets-sculpture-meets-homemade-playground. We’ll have a huge supply of recycled materials, like cardboard boxes, old

Picture this... only HUGE!
Picture this… only HUGE!

books, tubes, fabrics and more. You – that means kids, grown-ups, everyone – bring your imagination and sense of adventure. Artists and Museum & Theatre staff will be on site to help make your vision a reality. At day’s end, we’ll take down the structure and recycle it. All kids take home a bag of recycled building materials to keep dreaming and creating long after the event is over.

If you visited us last summer, you may remember the “Box City” we created on the second floor of the Museum & Theatre – dozens of buildings made from recycled materials. There were homes, a library, a school, a garden shop – anything our young builders could imagine! I’m so excited to make that concept way bigger and bring it out into the community so all kids can contribute their ideas, inventions and creativity.

3 Pop Up Adventure PLayground at Canadian International School of Egypt
A cardboard building project at the Canadian International School in Egypt.
Image source:

A project like this is tons of fun, of course, but there’s also a lot to learn from it. When kids engage in open-ended play like this – a project where there’s no one right answer – they get to solve problems and direct themselves. They’ll hit road blocks, then come up with solutions that none of the adults could have devised. They’ll build the skills that will make them great problem-solvers and creative thinkers – and that’s not just good for kids, that’s good for all of us! What community couldn’t use more creative problem-solvers?

We’re grateful to everyone who made these events possible! Pop-Up Playscapes are funded by the Cumberland County Community Building Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. We’re also getting help from some great community partners: City of Portland Recreation and Public Services; Ecomaine; No Umbrella Media; The Root Cellar; and Ruth’s Reusable Resources.

Coming to a Pop-Up Playscape event? RSVP on Facebook and share it with your friends!


I’m Louisa. Be one of my campers!

About Louisa:

BFA Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI)
A schooled painter and active member of Portland’s art community, Louisa instills a sense of aesthetics and creativity into all of her work as an educator. Her previous education work spans the country and includes the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco as well as work with at-risk youth in California, New Hampshire and Maine. Louisa’s deep curiosity about the world – from modern art to rocks and gems – informs her interdisciplinary approach to education with children of all ages.

Here’s what Louisa has to say about her 2013 summer camps:

• Ooey Gooey Art (7/29-8/2) •

Art making encourages….

  • Respect for self, others and nature
  • Self-evaluation
  • How to learn from our mistakes
  • How to see another point of view
  • Fine motor skills (lots of gross motor, too!)
  • Development of aesthetic taste or opinion
  • How to clean up
  • Cause and effect, chemical reactions
  • Connection-making

I’m excited to harness campers’ physical energy with some great, process-based art making. This is camp all about experimentation in an open-ended way. It’s messy and silly. We’ll have a subtle focus on shape, color, form, scale, materials and line, while keeping it flexible and driven by the children’s interests. A simple project like making our own colorful play dough creates so many developmental opportunities. For example, the malleable nature of play dough makes it a perfect material for investigation and exploration, while it also builds strength in our hand muscles, preparing us for more complex materials that require control. Not to mention, we’ll make it ourselves and learn about chemical reactions, ratios and measuring, and color mixing. Come to Ooey Gooey Art camp to get messy and (secretly) learn a whole lot.

• Wearable Art (6/24-6/28) •

A popular subject matter for art since the beginning of time has been the human. Its beauty and complexity has been pondered and appreciated for millions of years. I feel this is likely because of its convenience – the human body is always present (even if it is only yourself!). We’re going to use our bodies as the inspiration for this art camp. How can we make art that attaches to our bodies and works with our unique form and movement? Can we paint our hands and turn them into animal heads? How silly can we make a hat, and what shapes best fit for our heads? What type of design would look really great on a t-shirt? And what kind of necklace best represents you? The camp, designed for 6- to 8-year-olds, is focused on craft versus art and will introduce new materials and techniques to budding designers.

Talk to Louisa:

Curious about Louisa’s camps? Contact Louisa at 828-1234 x227 or email her at

Ready to register? You can do it online here or call Shana at 828-1234 x232.