During a child's early years, they learn a lot through play and exploration. Many manufactured toys are manufactured for children based on their gender or to achieve only one objective. However, loose parts play provides your little one with open ended opportunities for creativity and play. As well as, loose parts are not gendered and have no stereotypes, which at this young and impressionable age, can be very beneficial for their future self-esteem, identity and confidence even into adulthood.
We all know of the cheche scenario, where your child more interested in the box the toy came in than the toy itself. This is because the child is able to control their own play, rather than following the objective the toy is made to achieve.
For example, if you provide your little one with a tin of mixed buttons, they will spend a long time sorting them, arranging them by size or colour, or using them to create artwork or incorporate it within other activities of their own creation.
Just like the play itself, the object that can be involved in loose part play is open ended! The key is to make sure that the items do not have any predetermined use and it is best if you can provide your child with as many of the same item as possible.
You can ever have a theme to your loose parts play, here are a few of our favourites:
Please make sure that all items are clean and do not pose any hazard to your child’s safety.
Once you have collected your resources, introduce them to your child and sit back to see where their imagination takes them! They may also want you to get involved in their games or would like to introduce other recourse to their play, such as a mug tree to hang the curtain hooks on or their playdough utensils to their water play.
Your child should be given access to their loose parts to play and incorporate within their activities whenever they want. You can store them in baskets or provide your child with a lunch box or something with sections, so they can decide how they want to sort the parts into compartments.
There are so many benefits to providing open ended loose part resources to your little one. Loose parts resources help you to build an environment full of interesting objects to support your child’s creativity and invention. Due to the infinite variations of play that your child can come up with, this means they will always have an interest in loose parts play. The ability to move, modify or mould their play as well as the materials to meet their individual requirements, means resources are adaptable to all ages and stages of development.
Likewise, it is impossible to use a loose part in the ‘wrong’ way so your child will not experience a sense of failure for not meeting a required outcome – because there isn’t one! And the reverse also applies, your little one can experience a huge sense of personal achievement for reaching the goals of their play, as well as gain the thrill and achievement of discovery and experimentation.
At Kiddi Caru Day Nurseries Group, all our resources supplied to the children in our care are acquired and provided to support the learning outcomes of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Here’s how loose parts meet each of the seven areas of learning:
Personal, Social and Emotional Development – Independent play, making choices about what and how to play, sharing resources, playing alongside others.
Physical Development – Fine and gross motor skills, learning how to lift and carry.
Communication and Language – Speaking with other children during shared play, new language and vocabulary.
Mathematics – Concepts such as shape, size, sequencing, sorting, counting, combining and measuring.
Literacy – Mark making and storytelling narratives during play.
Understanding the World – Using loose parts during role play; stones in the kitchen, wooden blocks as cars, testing ideas and theories.
Expressive Arts and Media – Opportunity to explore media and materials, application of loose parts for creativity and art.
[EYFS learning outcomes from Pacey]