Loose Parts Play
What are loose parts?
Loose parts are a collection of simple, versatile, open-ended materials. They can be manipulated, transported, transformed, and used as creative representations of children’s ideas. Simon Nicholson; an architect, first coined the term “loose parts” after observing children enjoying a range of non-prescriptive materials. Loose parts have high play value and are part of the magic of childhood. They inspire creativity, imaginative thinking, and build on children's skills and creative development.
Why do children need loose parts in their environment?
Loose parts are an excellent open-ended resource that allows children to "do the thinking". They provide endless opportunities for children to invent, tinker, play, and discover. Current research shows that loose parts encourage growth in all areas of development.
Loose parts play fosters cognitive development as children think, explore, design, and express their ideas. As the directors of their learning, they can creatively explore maths and science concepts through play.
The development of social and emotional skills is encouraged as children work together to problem-solve, take turns, engage in dramatic play, and share ideas in a collaborative learning environment. As children create, they build confidence and experience the joy of child-directed play.
Fine-motor skills are developed as children pinch, pull, grasp, transport, and build with objects. Hands-on learning with loose parts is both interesting, and exciting.
Creative thinking skills are developed as children invent, design, and imagine. They enhance children's ability to think imaginatively and see solutions in their play.
What are some examples of loose parts?
Loose parts are an essential part of rich and enabling play environments. They are age-less, and babies right through to adults benefit from play with loose parts.
Babies enjoy items that invite action. Opportunities to touch, mouth, explore, bang, and move, encourage exploration and discovery. Examples of simple loose parts for babies include; blocks, lids, containers, ribbon, balls, scarves, cardboard, and egg cartons.
Toddlers love to engage with loose parts that allow them to transform, transport, and construct. Sand, water, wool, sticks, leaves, coins, shells, blocks, cups, PVC pipes, and everyday items are excellent starting materials for toddlers to explore loose part play.
Ideas for loose parts for school-aged children right up to adults include; glass pebbles, beads, wood scraps, nuts, bolts, feathers, flowers, straws, pom poms, pipe cleaners, and fabric.