Our Story


The idea of the play cafe inspired by Froebelian principles emerged from a mum and her young son!

The concept of the play cafe which is inspired by Froebelian principles was coined by Dr Kristina Konstantoni (University of Edinburgh) and her son Alex Bizas when he was around 2, due to a lack of indoor public spaces that were child-centred and underpinned by children’s rights philosophies and practices, holistic, open access and were not restricted to a specific activity like a music class. A space that would meet both of their needs; where Alex could play freely and Kristina as a parent could enjoy and relax too.

Kristina and Alex’s experience of cafes and other related indoor public spaces for play was very disappointing; they felt that they were not carefully designed to support play and did not all have staff that had the ethos and ways to support children’s free play. Kristina and Alex experienced many inequalities whilst accessing public spaces and they also noticed during their research that many of the current public places were not always equitable spaces for communities of color and for a range of families of various socio-economic and marginalised backgrounds. Alex attended at the time Cowgate Under Fives Centre-Edinburgh (based on a Froebelian approach that values children’s rights, child-centered approaches, promotes holistic approaches, and where the space is carefully designed to support and nurture play), and Alex and Kristina wondered why these Froebelian principles couldn’t apply to other social and play spaces for children and families in public life. Kristina worked in partnership with Cowgate Under Fives, Riverside Cottage Nursery, Community Playthings, Let Me Eat, and other University members to co-develop the first pop-up play café as part of the Fire Starter Festival.

This led to follow-up pop-up Play Cafes in different communities and neighborhoods (e.g. Pilton, Leith, Newhaven, Old Town) as part of the Froebelian Futures project, and the We Play Festival (a collaboration between The University of Edinburgh, The Play Cafe Project, Froebelian Futures and The Scottish Storytelling Centre, supported by a host of other partners aiming to celebrate and promote more child and community-centered public spaces in our cities). In total more than 2852 individuals have attended our Play Cafes and relevant pop-up Play Cafe events.