Have you ever noticed that children often enjoy the box more than the toy inside? Children usually prefer play that stimulates their curiosity and gives free reign to their imaginations and creativity.
Loose parts means alluring, beautiful, found objects and materials that children can move, manipulate, control and change while they play. Children can carry, combine, redesign, line up, take apart and put loose parts back together in almost endless ways. The materials come with no specific set of directions and they can be used alone or combined with other materials. Children can turn them into whatever they desire: a stone can become a character in a story; an acorn can become an ingredient in an imaginary soup. These objects invite conversations and interactions, and they encourage collaboration and cooperation. Put another way, loose parts promote social competence because they support creativity and innovation. All of these are highly valued skills in adult life today.
Loose parts possess infinite play possibilities. They offer multiple rather than single outcomes: no specific set of directions accompanies them; no single result is inevitable. Unlike a jigsaw puzzle, whose pieces are meant to be fitted together in a specific way to make a single picture, loose parts can be joined in many ways. A scarf, for example, can become a blanket to swaddle a baby, a platform for a picnic, a fishing pond, a cover for a fort, or a veil covering the face of a bride.
We have recently embraced more loose parts in setting and have seen the children’s imaginations blossom. Outside – there’s been pirate ships, water chutes, towers and obstacle courses to name but a few of the creation we’ve seen.
If you have any large ‘loose parts’ that would enhance our outside space they would be grateful received – crates, planks and tree trunks for example.
Thanks to Community Playthings for some of the above information