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These pop-up kits turn kids into architects of their own playgrounds

Follies promise to keep kids entertained during the quarantine, and long after.

Chloe Varelidi, an architect turned toy designer, has created a kit that allows kids to build their own playgrounds. That might sound like a dangerous proposition, but the kit, called Follies, consists of 45 flat plastic shapes in bright colors that slide together to create whimsical, Memphis-like structures that kids can easily (and safely) put together themselves. After kids are done building their spaceship, castle, theater, or whatever else they’ve imagined, they can collapse their creation and store away the pieces until the next play session. They’re basically enormous building blocks that kids can actually climb into.

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Chloe Varelidi [Photo: Follies]
It’s the perfect quarantine activity. While the kits don’t ship until January, there’s reason to believe that we may be stuck at home for a long time. (Some experts estimate that we won’t return to normal life until November of 2021.) So Follies could help keep children entertained throughout the next year, when they will be more homebound than usual.

[Photo: Follies]
Varelidi got the idea for a modular playground in 2017 while working in a refugee camp in Greece. There, she noticed that children didn’t have any spaces where they could engage in imaginative play. So she designed various shapes that could be pieced together to create a play structure (Varelidi says she drew inspiration from the imaginative structures of the architect Bernard Tschumi) then cut them out of cardboard. This became a prototype for Follies. Follies just launched on Kickstarter at an early bird price of $99; the kits will eventually retail for $129.

[Photo: Follies]
Varelidi also wants to keep helping kids who don’t have access to playgrounds. To that end, she made the Follies shapes open-source, so educators in other countries can download them and cut them out of cardboard. And part of the proceeds of her Kickstarter campaign will go to donating kits to the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project in Washington, D.C.

To back the project, go here.

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About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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