Loose parts are the ultimate open-ended resource to challenge the creativity of children
In early years education, playing with loose parts is an excellent way to stimulate the Imagination, creativity, and curiosity if children. They can be used for:
Art and design - laying them out in shapes and artistic designs to form a pattern or picture
Early maths skills - they can be counted, sorted by size or colour, added to and subtracted from.
Manipulative skills - they can be stacked, lined up, or piled high
Used in games and competitions - where the children negotiate the objective and the rules amongst themselves
What are loose parts?
It is a collection of items that are similar, but also have differences. The differences are often in size, colour, texture or shape.
Common examples of loose parts are stones, sticks, blocks, buttons and shells. They should be small enough for young hands to manipulate with ease, but large enough to avoid a choking hazard.
When presented with a collection of loose parts, children love to sort them, count them or make something out of them.
With no rules and no "correct answer", they make a lovely open-ended learning opportunity for young children.
Loose parts around the nursery
You will find frequent examples of loose parts around the nursery, usually displayed in open-topped, natural baskets made of wood, raffia, or cloth.
As with all equipment, the loose parts are stored at child-height in the classroom, so they can select for themselves what they wish to play with.