The theory of "loose parts" was first proposed by architect Simon Nicholson in the 1970's and is influencing child-play experts and people who design playspcaces for children in a big way. It is the idea that materials can be moved, carried, combined, designed/redesigned, lined up and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. These are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials. Environments that have loose parts are tend to be more stimulating and engaging than traditional static environments.
Why provide loose parts play opportunities?
- Promotes creative thinking and information gathering
- Increases brain development
- Promotes experimenting, trial and error, and scientific concepts
- Allows for the discovery and understanding of connections
- Enables risk taking
- Encourages competence
- Increases physical activity (structured and unstructured)
- Supports exploration and independent idea development
What are key characteristics of loose parts play?
- No defined use
- Easily accessible
- Regularly replenished
- Age appropriate
- An extension of the classroom to foster learning
- Located in a designated and welcoming area
- Ample amount of loose parts
Where do loose parts come from?
- Family and friends
- Craft stores
- Hardware stores
- Local craftsmen (carpenters, plumbers, handymen, construction works)
- Thrift stores/Yard sales