If you could see inside my home and visit my toddlers play stations, you would see an abundance of loose parts available for play. The Reggio Emila approach to Early Years education favours the use of loose parts for play and indeed more and more practitioners are incorporating loose parts into their settings to promote creative play.
So if you’ve wondered what all the hype is about, let me tell you a little bit about loose parts play.
Loose parts offer opportunities for creative play and are non-prescriptive. They can be interpreted however the children wish and are limited only by their imaginations
Being able to manipulate and modify loose parts and having the chance to invent, tinker and construct, allows the children to have ownership over their play rather than it be directed by a static environment.
Children need to experience handling and manipulating real objects.
So what are the benefits of loose parts play?
“When children interact with loose parts, they enter a world of ‘what if’ that promotes the type of thinking that leads to problem solving and theoretical reasoning. Loose parts enhance children’s ability to think imaginatively and see solutions” (Daly and Beloglovsky, 2015)
There are many benefits of loose parts play. Of fundamental importance is that children get the chance to be the leaders of their play. They get to choose what, how and why particular parts are used rather than there being any expected outcome. Children are free to interpret objects however they wish.
And language. Sooo many conversations can be ignited about the loose parts on offer. How they look, feel, smell. Their shape, their weight. How they stack or line up. How well they fit together. When the blackout den is in use, how the light shines through some loose parts and not others.
Loose parts can be rotated so they can be reused and reused. This is purposeful. The children recognise and develop their play with familiar and new loose parts, sometimes adapting how they were used previously and sometimes implementing previous experiences which they valued. Repetition is a necessary element in constructing knowledge and understanding
I’m a big loose parts fan (can you tell?). How could you use loose parts?