Loose Parts Play
Play to help your kids become strong, smart and happy
Do you remember as a kid getting your hands on a cardboard box! Would it become anything, a space ship, school bus, or a rocket ship? The imagination of a child knows know end. Loose parts play is unstructured and open-ended giving children time and space to use their imaginations!
What are loose parts?
" Loose parts" is a term for any materials that can be moved, carried, stacked, altered and don't have a set purpose. These can be natural objects - think stones, sticks, sand, leaves, pine cones, seeds. Loose parts can be recycled objects too like nails, screws and bolt, boxes, fabric, ropes, and milk crates!
Why loose part play?
Loose parts let kids make their own path and fiugre out how they want to play. It's open ended so there is no right way to play and no mistakes (just FUN!). This is really important because the more time that children spend in less-structured activities like loose parts play, the better their self-directed executive functioning skills become. Playing in this open ended structure helps kids develop their brains to think, remember, problem solve, and try new things!
Loose Parts Play & Kid's Brain Development:
Build Your Own Loose Parts Play Kits
Before you add anything to your Loose Parts Kit ask yourself:
- Does it have a set way to play or need insturctions? If yes, it might be a cool toy but it doesn't belong in the Loose Parts Kit.
- Can it break and become hazardous? Make sure everything in the kit can be played with many times in lots of ways and not become dangerous. I add items that are non-toxic and are not a choking hazard for any littles that might put items in their mouths!
- Is it okay if this item never returns from the loose parts kit? If you don't want it to get dirty, or hesitant to get it painted on or dented it is not meant for the loose parts play kit.
- Can it be put away quickly or left out? I like storing everything in a box or bin. At clean up it all just gets put in the box. If using loose play parts outside (which is an awesome idea!) can the parts handle sun, rain, snow?
Kits become exciting when they are made of parts that have different sensations!
Think about using different textures: soft, fluffy, hard, sticky, rough, smooth.
What about different smells or tastes? (make sure everything is non toxic)
Can you add in cool and warm parts? Think about how metal feels compared to a soft fabric.
Try to gather a variety of colours, patterns, designs.
Shapes & Sizes
We build patterns by putting things together items that are the same size, colour or shape. Have a variety of round parts, straight parts, circular parts etc. Make sure parts are large enough to not be a choking hazard for little ones!
Look to nature for inspiration- sand, dirt, rocks, leaves, flowers, seeds. Check out your recycle bin- boxes, cardboard, egg cartons
Explore your junk drawer- rubber bands, key chains, shoe laces, popsicle sticks, an old blanket whatever!
Space to Play
Loose parts play works best in a calm space where kids can explore and play with few distractions. Bring out some comfy pillows or chairs, and a table or diffferent platforms to build creations on!
Self directed play has no set instructions. This mean rules and boundaries are needed before starting to help keep everyone safe!
Remember that unstructured does NOT mean unsupervised. Small loose parts are a choking hazard so make sure you are providing pieces that are safe for your child! Start with large items that are okay to explore with little toddler mouths and move to nuts and bolts when your school aged kid is ready!