What is Loose parts?

In early childhood education settings, loose parts mean 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.

Loose parts create endless possibilities and invite creativity. For example, if a child picks up a rock and starts to play, most likely that rock can become anything the child wants it to be. Imagination, creativity, curiosity, desire, and need are the motivation of loose parts.

When children are encouraged to integrate play materials and areas in their own creative ways, they are experiencing open ended learning!

On your next walk or even at home here’s some examples you may find to help your child’s curiosity

and creativity:

Natural play area

water • sand • mud • sticks • branches • logs • driftwood • grasses • moss • leaves • flowers • pinecones

• pine needles • seeds • shells • bark • feathers • boulders • rocks • pebbles • stones

A playground

balls • hoops • jump ropes • tires • sand • water • mud • straw • boulders • rocks • stones • pebbles • buckets • cups • containers • digging tools • chalk • scarves • ribbons • fabric

Indoor environment

blocks • building materials • measuring • pouring devices (cups, spoons, buckets, funnels) • dramatic play props • play cars, animals, and people • blankets • materials • floor samples • water • sand • sensory materials • recycled materials (paper tubes, papers, ribbons, caps, lids, wood scraps, wire, foam, cardboard) • plastic gutters • small plungers • tools • Pots and pans• Wooden spoons• art materials (buttons, natural and coloured popsicle sticks, beads, straws, paints, brushes)