What do children learn from loose parts play


You’ve probably heard of the old adage, ‘The Sum of the Parts is Greater than the Whole.’ In a sense, this powerful saying is inextricably linked to Loose Parts Play!

What are Loose Parts, you might ask? They refer to things like ‘pieces of string’ and ‘cardboard boxes.’ Items, the likes of which are commonly found strewn across our homes. Indeed, items that we won’t give so much as a second glance to. To a young child whose mind is brimming with all kinds of ideas, though, they make for a World of Possibilities!

In this blog post you will learn all about Loose Parts Play. We will discuss the Importance of Loose Parts Play in Early Years, and even touch upon some classic Examples of Loose parts. Before we dive into the details, though, it’s pertinent that we answer the question, ‘What are Loose Parts?’

Loose Parts: What they Are

In a nutshell, the term Loose Parts refers to all materials that can be moved, combined and even taken apart, during Active Play. Loose parts can be categorized into the following:

  • Natural. Pebbles, sticks, shells, flowers, etc.
  • Man-made. Straws, chalk, cartons, tyres, etc.

One of the best things about loose parts is, they are driven by Children, not Adults. They take us back to the days of our childhood, when we had such few resources available to us, and yet made use of every small thing at our disposal. That is, to happily play for hours on end.

Loose Parts: What Children Learn from Loose Parts Play

Now that we have the answer to the question ‘What are Loose Parts?’, it is time to dive into the Importance of Loose Parts Play in Early Years.

  1. A Boost to Creativity
  2. Nobody has to ever tell children what they need to do with those Loose Parts. In other words, the possibilities of Play with Loose Parts are endless. It’s up to them to let their Creativity shine, when it comes to figuring out what to do with all those unique materials at their disposal.

  3. It Encouraging Critical Thinking
  4. Apart from giving those creative powers a boost, Loose Parts do a wonderful job of honing the critical-thinking skills of kids. This is because, when they find themselves playing with those myriad Loose Parts, they are forced to ‘ask questions’, and to work towards unlocking different ‘perspectives.’

  5. It’s Economical
  6. We have already seen some classic Examples of Loose Parts in the preceding section. Needless to say, you don’t have to look too long or hard, before finding a vast array of loose parts in the environs of your home itself! That means, not continually having to shell out big bucks for expensive toys from your local toy shop.

  7. Importance in Today’s World
  8. We live in a technology-ridden world, and that implies children spending far too much time on their gadgets. If you cannot get your kids to play as much in the ‘outdoors’ as you would like them to, then getting them to indulge in Loose Parts Play is just what the doctor ordered! That is, to ensure they don’t spend an inordinate amount of time in the virtual world.

  9. Improving Social Skills and Introducing them to Teamwork
  10. It is well-known that Man is a Social Animal. Before long, your kids will be inviting their friends over, to indulge in even more fun with Loose Parts Play. That will not only help where it comes to sharpening their social skills, it will also help them learn to work as part of a team. For instance, to create structures that they will ordinarily not be able to make by themselves.

Loose Parts Play: Fun Loose Parts Activities for your Little Ones

Time to step things up, and give your children a little ‘push’ where it comes to playing with Loose Parts. Try these fun activities with Loose Parts, that will have them begging for more!

  1. 3-D Art
  2. The very term ‘3-D’ is tinged with an element of ‘magic’, in the eyes of little kids. Getting them to create their own 3-D works of Art, could not be easier!

    To do: Have your children paste things like pom-poms, to the sides of those empty cardboard boxes that are invariably found in every household. The sky’s the limit, where it comes to creating some delightful 3-D masterpieces.

  3. Tactile Loose Parts Play
  4. Loose Parts Play becomes even more fun, when children get to indulge in the sense of ‘touch’.

    To do: Create a sandbox, and give your child items like pebbles and flowers, that they can arrange in the sand to create the ‘dish of the day’. Or perhaps, they might get a chance to become junior archaeologists, searching for the fossil of the dinosaur that was never found!

  5. Building Motor Skills with Blocks
  6. Yes, honing their Gross Motor Skills is yet another of those powerful benefits that stem from the use of Loose Parts.

    To do: Encourage them to use their imagination, to create something magnificent with building blocks. You could give them a few ideas, too. Like, making a castle that will help safeguard the imaginary prince from his enemies!

    Note: All the while they are in the process of building, they will be using their muscles and sharpening those motor skills.

  7. Using Loose Parts with Playdough
  8. Cardboard boxes are not the only ‘base’ for fun Loose Parts Activities.

    To do: Fill up a large tray with some Playdough. Then give your child a multitude of Loose Parts, and let them go wild creating a unique Loose Parts Landscape!

    Tip: Tell them they are building a ‘city’ of their own, to make it more interesting.

  9. Throwing Loose Parts in Water
  10. Your children will learn the important concept that is ‘buoyancy’, with this fun activity.

    To do: Get your child to throw various loose parts into a bowl filled with water. Watch them marvel at the fact that ‘some items float, while others do not.’

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