September 2021 Newsletter – Increasing Opportunities for Free Play: Incorporating Loose Parts

Incorporating Loose Parts

Loose parts are collections of materials and found objects that are presented to children in open-ended ways.  British architect Simon Nicholson coined the term “loose parts” to describe open-ended materials that can be used and manipulated in many ways. He believed the richness of the environment was important in providing opportunities for creativity and inventiveness.

According to Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky, authors of the book Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children, loose parts are “alluring, beautiful, found objects and materials that children can move, manipulate, control, and change while they play.”

Here are a few additional features of loose parts:

  • They come with no specific set of directions and can be used alone or combined with other materials.
  • They can be turned into whatever children desire.
  • They promote social competence as they support creativity and innovation.

Loose parts are generally presented as invitations to explore.  In other words, teachers introduce materials into a learning center, without instructions. Children can use the materials and any accompanying tools in different ways. They may decide to sort items or arrange them in different patterns. Sometimes children will build with the materials and other times they could create silly faces.

Teachers may have a particular intention or goal for the materials. They can arrange materials in an interesting way that encourages children to expand on a theme.  This is called a provocation.

There are different types of loose parts that you can incorporate in your classroom. They include:

  • Nature-based materials
  • Wood
  • Plastic
  • Metal
  • Ceramic or glass
  • Fabric
  • Packaging materials

Of course, loose parts chosen for the classroom should be developmentally appropriate, safe for children, and should not pose a choking hazard.  You can learn more and find a list of possible loose parts materials in the CCEI course entitled: CUR125: Loose Parts: Incorporating Found Objects and Open-Ended Materials into the Classroom.

For the main article Increasing Opportunities for Free Play, CLICK HERE

For the article Play throughout the Day, CLICK HERE

For the article Adaptations to Promote Free Play, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Increasing Opportunities for Employees to Play, CLICK HERE