This year one of my goals was to have more “loose parts” in the classroom. The theory of loose parts is ingrained in the Reggio Emilia Approach. To some it may look like clutter or just stuff, but loose parts are a magical part of play. I got this wonderful list of loose parts and their uses from Let the Children Play blog:
Why Loose Parts?
There are many reasons why play spaces should include a multitude of loose parts, including:
- Loose parts can be used anyway children choose.
- Loose parts can be adapted and manipulated in many ways.
- Loose parts encourage creativity and imagination.
- Loose parts develop more skill and competence than most modern plastic toys
- Loose parts can be used in many different ways
- Loose parts can be used in combination with other materials to support imagination
- Loose parts encourage open ended learning.
- Children choose loose parts over fancy toys.
All of the reasons for loose part play can be found in these pictures I have compiled from the past few months. The bottoms of the castles are placemats from World Market, unit blocks, peg people, and led candles.
Imagination, building, balance, creativity, play at work…
The beauty of loose parts is they can be combined, moved, stacked, dragged, and transformed. There aren’t any rules, buttons, right or wrong ways to play with loose parts. The above picture shows window blocks, unit blocks, our large hollow blocks, and Mr. Bones were all part of the creation the children were working on.
The next two photos show a sensory and loose parts area I set up this fall. There was rice in the sensory bin, rocks, pumpkin and corn gems, lots of animals, and pieces of felt to move about.
These photos show how much the area changed over the course of a morning:
The pumpkins were dredged up, and were placed in the barn. Lots of horses and animals joined up inside the barn too. The great thing about loose parts and free play in the classroom is allowing the materials to stay put. One child can start working with something and then another child can change it later or pick up where they left off!
The following photos show the children’s interest in marbles and tubes. This has been an on-going interest in the group. We decided to bring the tubes and gutters outside to play with them on the swing set.
I set up our tree branches on the train table. I left of a variety of materials including silk leaves, play dough, gems, wall putty, and pumpkins. The children worked with the tree on and off throughout the morning and the end product was lovely!
STEM building with marshmallows and toothpicks was left on the tables in October. I found really fun candy corn marshmallows at the store. The children got busy building 2D and 3D shapes with the toothpicks. They were engaged and creative, and I was surprised by all of the different shapes and designs they made.
I was looking for new and interesting ways to use our wooden Rainbow set. I saw the idea to lay the pieces on their side to make different rooms or areas. I set up our little hospital unit with a waiting room, operating room, doctor’s offices, and patient’s beds. They got busy using the blocks and the Playmobil set in a new way!
I hope to share more of our recent adventures soon!