Loose Parts Play

Loose Parts Play

I covered a little about loose parts play on Instagram at the beginning of Children’s Creativity Corner journey. Some people may ask what is loose parts play? Loose parts play enables children to explore and create using a range of open-ended materials within the environment. This may include bottle tops, stones, pebbles, sticks, recycled materials. It may be items within outdoor play. For example, rocks in the garden or sticks than have fallen from a tree. Children really enjoy this activity and exploring what they may create using the different materials. For example, while supervising during outdoor play, I noticed a little boy taking different materials within the outdoor environment. He took rocks, logs and sticks. During this, the little boy informed me he was going to make a t-rex because “it is my favourite dinosaur”. Throughout the process the child weighed up the pros and cons if he used a specific log or rock wood the t-rex fall or stay in place. This promoted questioning, trial and error and problem solving. The child continued to make the t-rex and at the end showed everyone within the service the dinosaur he had created. This was a meaningful experience for the child and promoted child led activities. To further enhance this a photograph was displayed within the service and sent home. I personally believe loose play gives children great imaginative thinking, fine and gross motor skills, hand eye coordination, cognitive thinking, child led play, enhancing skills, creativity, amongst other things.

Loose Parts Activities.

  • Props within the puppet show area such as a stick could be a magic wand or a box may be a suitcase.
  • A loose parts area within the service area indoor or outdoor. It may include kitchen roll cardboard, string, buttons, pompoms and rocks.
  • An area with shells. The children may create a puppet using shells, pebbles and string.
  • Different tubs with different coloured loose parts that the child may thread with.
  • Loose parts may be used to create patterns e.g. a circle using different shapes and materials or the sun using different yellow loose parts such as buttons or string.
  • A loose parts picture. This could include a nature walk and the children lifting things they find meaningful along the way. For example, flowers, leaves, pebbles. After returning the children could create a picture of their choice such as an owl.
  • The children within the theme all about me may create themselves using loose parts materials. For example, string for their hair, rocks for their eyes, pompoms for hands etc.
  • A create mirror area. The child may create an outline of their mirror using different loose parts such as lollypop sticks, coloured rocks or pompoms.
  • Outdoor loose parts tents. This could include props such as old materials, string and sticks. Each child could create their own tent with the chosen materials. This gives the children opportunity within trial and error. e.g. will the tent stand only using two sticks and how will I have a door for the tent.
  • Within outdoor play children may create their own house using sticks and stones. This was a favourite activity of mine as a little girl. This activity also gives opportunity for trial and error and how high will my house be?
  • Loose parts counting. For example the numbers 1 to 5. The number one may have 1 button, 2 may have 2 pebbles, 3 bottle tops etc.
  • Loose parts obstacle course. This may include an old pipe, tyre, wood. Th area could be changed around.
  • Loose parts memory game. This may including different materials such as a button, string, pebble and removing one item. The child is then asked “what is missing”.
  • Creating an loose parts service display on the display area. This may be a picture or the service name using materials such as nails, pebbles, bottle tops, string, cardboard. This is a great activity and the parents seeing the end product is a proud moment for young children.
  • Sensory area with different loose parts. This can include questioning such as “which is lighter/heavier”?.
  • Construction play. This may include different loose parts that children can use within their play. E.g. rocks to build a fort etc.
  • Exploring how using a rock and a stone may include drawing on the rock.

“The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences”

Loris Malaguzzi

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