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10 things you need to know about loose part play

Author: Kriskamol Vutithum

Are you stuck in the house? Is your child (or children) getting bored? Need a change in your play routine? Here are things you need to know to create easy and inspiring loose parts play by using things you can find in your kitchen/ household or backyard.

1. Loose parts play is a pedagogical approach where children are encouraged to undertake their own play using everyday objects rather than ‘toys’.

2. Supports invention, divergent thinking, problem-solving and offers a sense of wonder to children.

3. The theory of “loose parts” was first proposed by architect Simon Nicholson in the 1970's 

Here is Scrapstore Playpod video, an inspiring video that children engage play with of the use of junk loose parts.

4. Flexibility is at the heart of this play as it allows children to endlessly rethink and recreate. Children can gain a huge sense of personal achievement for reaching the goals of their play alongside experience the thrill of discovery and experimentation.

5. Children playing with loose parts are using more creativity and imagination and in addition to developing more skill and competence than they would play with most modern plastic toys or even expensive pieces of play equipment.

6. Loose part play uses materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, taken apart and put back together in multiple ways.

7. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials. These materials should be accessible physically and stored where they can be reached by children without having to ask the adults. This allows them to gain a sense of ownership to their play and things they create.

8. Loose parts can be natural or synthetic such as stones, stumps, sand, gravel, fabric, twigs, wood, pallets, balls, buckets, baskets, crates, boxes, logs, stones, flowers, rope, tyres, balls, shells and seedpods.

9. The adults role is to support and encourage their work and ideas. Regularly replenished and alternated.

10. Make a tinker tray! Channel your inner-child spirit and look around in your recycle bin for egg holders (to use as a sorting tray) plastic bottle lids, buttons, wine corks, rubber bands. If you're going for a walk today, look for stones, shells, acorns or seeds. Bear in mind the age of your children and don't forget that these parts are choking hazards.

We develop a gluten-free play dough kit that includes loose part play material in the box. Please check our creative play box Here.

Have a good day everyone! 


Sources & more serious readings
Reading Play
Play Scotland

See some amazing tinker tray ideas   |  Photos from Pinterest