with Kerry Blake, Nominated Supervisor and Educational Leader at our Frenchville centre in North Rockhampton.
Loose parts mean found objects and materials that children can manipulate, control, move, and change whilst they explore and play. The materials come with no specific set of directions, and they can be used alone or combined with other materials. Unlike a puzzle, whose pieces are meant to be fitted together in a specific way, loose parts can be joined in many different ways. Loose parts possess infinite play possibilities, and can be turned into almost anything: a scarf can become a blanket, a fishing pond, a veil or a cover for a fort; a stone can become a character in a story; an acorn can become an ingredient in an imaginary dish… the list is eternal.
Loose parts promote social competence because they support creativity and innovation; and invite conversations and interactions with creativity, whilst encouraging collaboration and cooperation. Loose parts also encourage open-ended learning and problem solving and are child centred – it gives children freedom to arrange and rearrange, using the parts to create their own rules and designs which allows the focus to be on the process rather than the product. Children usually prefer play that stimulates their curiosity and gives free reign to their imaginations and creativity. “I believe that one of the best ways to enhance their natural curiosity is to introduce a wide variety of loose parts into their play settings like we do here at our exceeding rated centre in Frenchville, North Rockhampton” says Kerry.
“Let’s face it… Children choose creative, loose parts over fancy toys. Remember that one year you bought a fancy toy as a Christmas gift and your Toddler had more enjoyment playing with the big box the gift came in…” says Kerry “Or your baby crawling over to the pot and pan cupboard and gets ecstatic banging on them”…
Consider how often children enjoy a plate of pretend food consisting of rocks and grass and share their recipe of spaghetti – so creative!!
Using loose parts in the classroom or at home will have your children develop valuable skills across the curriculum – so many learning intentions are practised by children as imagination, creativity, and curiosity are the motivation of loose parts. “The beauty of loose parts is, they don’t have to be purchased at the store, most of the items you already have lying around the house” says Kerry. Loose parts are often sourced by reusing and recycling materials or even sourced directly from nature.
“Don’t forget the next time you want to throw an empty yogurt container, toilet roll, bottle cap or button out, these might just be the best toys you could have for your children” says Kerry.