The ultimate open-ended activity.
Loose parts are collections of objects that can be combined, moved, lined up, redesigned, put together and taken apart in endless ways and combinations.
There are no rules or preset expectations. A child is free to use the pieces and parts as they choose, without adult direction.
Adding Play Value to your Playground
On a natural playground, loose parts add incredible play value to the children’s natural play areas. The different natural playground centers, or behavioral settings, within the outdoor environment offer young children the chance to engage with the materials in a variety of ways.
Loose parts can be used in a building area, water play area, mud kitchen and dramatic play area. The opportunities for meaningful learning and imaginative play are numerous, especially within a natural playground designed specifically with safe, age-appropriate and inviting materials.
Here are a few tips to get you started with loose parts play:
- Observe the child as they play. Observing will tell you what additional materials, tools, or other loose parts would be fun to add based on their skills and interests.
- Let them guide their play. Play means doing what they want to do, for as long as they want to do it. Give children plenty of free time and consider leaving out some items that may be in-progress for the child to return to again.
- Don’t expect or require the child to share their loose parts while working. When working with a set of materials they’ve gathered, consider it the same as pieces to a puzzle. Even if they can’t tell you their plan, asking them to share would be like asking the child to give up half of the puzzle pieces while working on a puzzle.
- Trust that play is learning. Trust that powerful learning is happening even if the child is processing it quietly. They might want to talk about their work, or not. Frequently adding our praise, quizzing or teaching interrupts the high-level thinking going on.
Safe and Age-Appropriate Loose Parts
Always supervise your children at play, especially when introducing new materials. Green Space Learning provides training for teachers after installing any new natural playgrounds containing loose parts.
If you’re interested in adding loose parts or loose parts within a nature playground in Texas, Green Space Learning provides training, designs and builds custom-designed, high-quality, innovative outdoor environments for young children with loose parts available within many playground packages or as a set.
Schedule your consultation to learn more.