What are Loose Parts?
Loose parts are everyday items that children can experiment with freely. They are items that can be used in many different ways during play. For example, a rock may be an apple pie or a frog’s lily pad. A stick can represent a magic wand, a bridge, or a measurement tool.
A few of our favorite loose parts that you will see in the Outdoor Classroom at Marvelously Made are plungers, gutters, scarves, and natural items like sticks and rocks. They are used each school day in various ways!
Why Loose Parts are Important
Loose parts support the development of problem solving and critical thinking skills. They enhance vocabulary and social skills as their uses or meanings are decided on.
Providing children with various loose parts in an open ended, play based environment encourages creativity and self expression.
Clips and fabric are loose parts that can be used in various ways. On this particular day, the children decided to make a fort with the materials.
Together, they gathered cozy pillows and cushions from different areas of the Outdoor Classroom. They worked together to align the fabric just right. Then, they carried heavy logs into their fort (great for strengthening core muscles). A wooden spoon became a fire starter. Notice the pots of sand that are arranged purposefully for their play.
Play is Important
Play is important work! The communication, teamwork, and problem solving that were at work here among the children can only happen during play. As the children are given the freedom and space to play, they make sense of things they see, hear, and experience in their world.