Value of Loose Parts Play

Value 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, and they bring a sense of adventure and excitement to children’s play”.
(Dale and Beloglovsky)

In a world in which we are preparing our youngest generation for professions still unknown, it is imperative to fuel children’s curiosity and appetite for learning. This love of learning, along with the skills to communicate, problem solve and self regulate will lead to life long success no matter the profession.

Loose parts play are materials that have the power to be anything a child wants them to be. Have you noticed that children will often choose to play with a large box rather than a purpose made plastic toy?!
This is because a box can be so much more: it could be a den, a space rocket, a cave whereas a plastic toy can only be one thing…a plastic toy. These toys have a place in children’s play but loose parts play offers so much more to a child.

They can be moved and manipulated in many ways. Loose parts have no set directions and fuel a child’s imagination. They encourage children to think of ideas, test them out, change, adapt and build a world of imaginative ideas. Loose Parts play encourage children to become independent, creative learners.

The pedagogical approach for loose parts is to enable children to undertake their own learning using everyday objects rather than ‘toys’. The concept originates from architect Simon Nicholson who wrote about the benefits of a loose parts environment to child development. The article is an interesting read, and states that “in any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.” He identifies loose parts as “all the things that satisfy ones curiosity and give us the pleasure that results from discovery and invention.” Loose parts present variables that support a particular type of experimental play; beneficial because “children learn most readily and easily in a laboratory type environment where they can experiment, enjoy and find out things for themselves

Some of the loose parts resources that we use at the Workshop include:-

  • pine cones
  • conkers
  • twigs
  • shells
  • stones
  • logs
  • wooden curtain rings
  • seed pods
  • lolly sticks
  • cotton reels
  • buttons
  • leaves
  • pompoms
  • bangles
  • strings of beads
  • off cuts of wood
  • pasta
  • cds

It is impossible to use loose parts in the wrong way, so there is no sense of failure for children. It also has the benefit of being non gendered and has no stereotypes.

How Loose Play support the learning outcomes of the EYFS:-

PSED- Make choices, promotes independence, sharing, collaborating, negotiating, playing alongside one another.

PD- Using fine motor skills to manipulate small objects, using gross motor skills for lifting, carrying,building,constructing and balancing.

Communication and Lang- speaking, engaging in conversations with others, developing new language, developing new vocab, ability to ‘story tell’

Mathematics- Concepts big and small,heavy,light,balance,sequencing,sorting,measuring,prepositions,
patterns, shape and symmetry.

Literacy- Mark making, early symbolic play, developing a storytelling narrative.

UW- testing ideas, problem solving, exploring natural resources,inspiring wonder and awe.

EAD- explore textures and materials, fuels imagination, encourages children to think creatively

So next time you want to inspire some creativity in your child, put away the toys and get yourself a collection of loose parts. 

Just be careful to ensure that the parts are suitable for small children to play with.