10 Reasons to Love Loose Parts | Day 25 – 30 Days to Transform Your Play

30 Days to Transform Your Play Series from An Everyday Story

Day 25 - loose Parts

Day 25 | 30 Days to Transform Your Play

We’ve talked about so much in this series, haven’t we? Playdough, clay, drawing, construction, choosing and organising toys… and throughout most of the posts there’s been something in common; loose parts.

Here’s a little something I’ve written about loose parts before:

“In 1972, architect Simon Nicholson developed the Theory of Loose Parts; the idea that loose parts, materials which can be moved around, designed and redesigned, and tinkered with; create infinitely more opportunities for creative engagement than static materials and environments. Basically, the more materials there are the more people can interact.”

“…an environment which is rich in open-ended materials and real materials, invokes children to experiment, engage, construct and invent; invites them to tinker, to manipulate and to play.” ~ continue reading

When I first started introducing loose parts into Jack and Sarah’s play I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing or what to expect. And to be completely honest, it took a little time for Jack and Sarah to take to them. So much so that I wasn’t really sure that loose parts were all they were cracked up to be.

But I kept seeing all those Reggio Emilia environments brimming with loose parts and was so captivated by their beauty and their potential that I continued to offer them….and I am oh so glad that I did. Loose parts have become Jack and Sarah’s favourite things to play with.

So if you are not completely sold, here’s 10 reasons to LOVE loose parts…

30 Days to Transform Your Play Series from An Everyday Story10 Reasons to Love Loose Parts

  1. Loose parts are beautiful: all those lovely colours, shapes and textures, what’s not to love
  2. Loose parts are cheap… or even better, free!: most of our loose parts came from bargain stores (the fake flower section is a treasure trove!) And let’s not forget mother nature’s gifts which change every season
  3. Loose parts encourage tinkering and experimenting: they can be designed and redesigned, pulled apart and rearranged, they can be used to explore complex concepts like,
    • relationships between materials
    • laws of motion
    • force
    • balance
    • how light travels and optics
    • how sound is created
    • mechanics – energy, mass and inertia
  4. Loose parts appeal to our children’s unique interests and stage of development
    • depending on their age they will use the same materials differently
  5. Loose parts offer infinite opportunities for creative engagement
  6. Loose parts are easy to find: bargain stores, craft stores, even department stores like Big W and K-mart have some treasures like wooden cedar balls (intended to keep moths away) which make wonderful loose parts
  7. Loose parts encourage children to manipulate their environment
    • move parts around
    • problem solve
    • create new spaces
  8. Loose parts allow children to continually engage in higher levels of play
    • once they have finished playing with them in one way, the child can easily change up their play and use them in a completely different way
  9. The same loose parts can be used in all manner of play. A pinecone can be a tree in an imaginary story or a printing tool whilst exploring clay or playdough
  10. Loose parts are gender neutral. They aren’t marketed to boys or girls. They are equally appealing to both genders for their immense potential for creative expression and discovery

 10 Reasons to Love Loose Parts… I hope you love them too. 

So, what are your favourite loose parts? Come and share on Facebook or on Instagram using #30daystyp

If you missed a post, here’s the rest of the series.

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s posts on Racheous – Lovable Learning

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12 Replies to “10 Reasons to Love Loose Parts | Day 25 – 30 Days to Transform Your Play”

  1. I love loose parts too, since childhood. And my toddler does too! But I have a problem: I don’t have any clever way to store them. Now I have ten different places and ten different random jars and little backs for them. How do you store them?

  2. I’ve seen those little wood slices everywhere on pinterest but where can you buy them?

    1. I bought these ones from ZartArt. I got them online. They also have a store in Melbourne.

    2. You can get them free, though a bit rougher, from a Christmas tree lot. They usually cut a slice of the tree off when they sell a tree.

  3. Lakeshore learning store sells the wood slices.

  4. I love using loose parts in my son’s play Kate – but like Sanja – I have a problem with how to store them. Do you have any suggestions or tips on how you store them so that they’re accessible when you next want them, but not taking over the house?

  5. I love loose parts too, but my problem is – how do you clean up? I wouldn’t believe if anyone says that their toddlers would pick all loose parts out of the mix they have created let’s say “making soup” and carefully dry and sort them. And I don’t have endless amounts of time to do that. So – when I see my daughter “making soup” and totally engaged and concentrated for over 40 min, cutting and mixing, adding “ingredients” and talking to herself – my heart leaps with joy. But then I see “the soup” made with water, ALL of dried beans I gave her for the small world play, jingle bells, dice, pine cones, glitter, wooded cubes and dozen more “ingredients” that she had collected apart from what I put out in a “play provocation” and my heart sinks – some pretty bits are ruined, some need proper wash and dry, etc and most of all – sorted. And If I even try to make her “undo” her doing she’d get upset or angry that I break her things and will not attempt to do anything again. Proven from experience. How do you cope please?

  6. I am loving this series. I too am wondering how you inspire clean up? I have a four year old (who we are homeschooling), twin two-year olds, and a one year old. My four year old will clean, and the two year olds will some, but the one year old is often counter productive. And even when the bigger three clean, they tend to just toss everything back on the shelf. Not neatly back into the baskets and buckets I have given them. Any suggestions?

  7. I absolutely love this post on loose parts. I have it pinned, and mentioned it (with credit to you of course!) on my own blog. Thanks so much for sharing all your fabulous ideas!

  8. What are some ideas for provocations and open ended play that can guide their tinkering with loose parts? In my kindergarten many times the children didn’t know what to do with them and neither did I, outside of the one or two obvious ways to play with them. Ideas?

  9. My suggestion is have a soup bin, maybe one of those lidded containers, she can stir with her spoon, pom poms might be fun to add too 🙂 When she’s done playing, everything goes back in the bin. Have some play pots and pans, maybe keep it in her kitchen area, if she has one. Don’t worry, a little mess is a good trade off for a well developed kiddo!

  10. Maria Ninoschka Martinez Aliaga says:

    Soy Educadora Parvularia, y realmente me encanta este post de piezas sueltas porque trabajo con niños pequeños. Y realmente puedo decir que despiertan la creatividad de los niños y dan lugar a creaciones jamas imaginadas, gracias por compartir esto con nosotros.

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