Loose Parts Play

What is Loose Parts Play?

Every parent has had at least one experience with Loose Parts Play. Remember the moment when your child opened a birthday or holiday gift and was more interested and excited to play with the box or the wrappings than the actual gift itself ?

Whether it’s packing peanuts, bubble wrap, or other loose parts, kids just love to play with the stuff. This is where the term loose parts play comes from.

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The importance of Loose Parts Play

The idea of loose parts play was created by architect Simon Nicholson, who recognised the importance of loose part play. Encouraging children to play with open-ended materials is strongly connected to the development of creativity and critical thinking which is developed and enhanced as your child grows. To see this truth in reality, all we have to do is watch children at play with loose parts.

Loose Parts Play Ideas

You can find loose parts just about everywhere, from your kitchen to your garden. Here are just a few ideas for play:

• Create faces using leaves, twigs, and flowers

• Make a river with a blanket and build a bridge with sticks and string

• Create a track for cars using boxes, bricks, and toilet roll inserts

• Design mosaic with pasta, washers, beads, and shells

• Celebrate the season from things foraged from the garden

The list of materials is virtually infinite as are the creative ways they can be used. The only limit is your child's imagination.

How to Implement Loose Part Play

The beauty of loose part play is that you can encourage your children to do it at home or in the classroom. But before you begin, consider the age of the children you are playing with, so that you don’t give them materials that they might present a choking hazard.

You might choose a selection of materials with a theme, such as the weather, a holiday at the beach, a favourite pet. Alternatively, you can let your child loose with their imagination and see what they come up with. Once you’ve set out your materials, you are ready to go. You’ll always be in for a pleasant surprise.

The Benefits of Loose Part Play

Whether your child is a budding artist or engineer, loose part play is of value to all because it helps to develop skills across all areas including creativity, spatial learning, colour and shape awareness and it certainly fosters the development of your child's imagination.  What’s more, because loose part play is child-led, it allows little ones to develop their sense of self and strengthen their independence. Loose part play never gets boring.

You can surround your children with the same materials day after day and they will always find a new way to play with them. Children see so much possibility in these objects. For example, they may find some coloured stones in the garden that suddenly become bird eggs, the next day the same stones have magic powers and the next day they might be treasures to be buried. So, as you see, loose part play is a creative and healthy way for young children to explore the world around them.

Explore our Collection of Loose Parts Play for Infants and Toddlers

At My Happy Helpers, we have carefully selected some of the best resources to encourage your child's open ended play journey. Substituted with what you may find along your day to day travels, these resources will be sure to spark your little ones curiosity and interest.