Even if you have never heard of the term‘loose parts play’ as a parent, there’s a good chance your child has already been engaging with this form of play without realising!
Loose parts are pieces, or materials, that can be carried, moved around, lined up, redesigned, taken or pulled apart, and put back together in different ways.
It is open-ended free-play (no rules or structure) with objects found inside the home, out in the backyard, park or any other natural environment, making it a low-cost, or free, but developmentally beneficial form of play.
It can be used by children of all ages and abilities; they are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to use loose parts.
There are endless options to incorporate into a child’s loose play, both natural and recycled objects:
Natural loose parts may include:
Shells, stones, rocks, sticks, flowers, twigs, leaves, pine cones and bark
Recycled loose parts may include:
Cotton wool, pom poms, straws, pipe cleaners, pegs, tiles, ribbons, cardboard, paper, chalk
This is a form of self-directed play, so it is important to give your child plenty of uninterrupted time to become fully immersed in their activity.
Set up a loose parts treasure hunt;everything found can then be incorporated into their play.
Make a surprise box full of loose parts;your child’s imagination can take over!
Place loose parts around your house for your child to discover.
It is important to take into consideration any safety and choking hazards when supplying loose parts to a child. A child’sage must also be taken into account when giving them items of a certain size, and always supervise small children when playing!