Monday, 3 July 2017

The Beauty of Loose Parts

Loose Parts are open-ended materials that children can use in a variety of ways.  See the except below from an article around learning through play. 
Architect Simon Nicholson used the term “loose parts” to describe materials with varied properties that can be moved and manipulated in many ways. He theorized that the richness of an environment depends on the opportunity it allows for people to interact with it and make connections.
With no specific set of directions—and powered only by a child’s imagination—an assortment of shells might become a collection to sort, scoops to move sand, or saucers placed for tea. Further illustrating that the materials we provide children should be open-ended, Joan Almon, former director of the Alliance for Childhood, suggested that a good toy is really only 10% toy and 90% child (cited in Linn, 2008).
And below you can see this in action.  Maths manipulatives becoming birthday cakes, cupcakes and presents, while tubes and cable reels are explored as stools, wheelchairs, channels for things to travel through and containers.
The Learning Links:

  • Thinking like a scientist--testing and changing
  • Sorting by different characteristics--size, shape, type of material
  • Health and PE--creating a game together, taking turns
  • Movement
  • Capacity--how many of these little stones fit into this cable reel?


The amount of creativity and ingenuity that occurs when children can choose how they use the materials around them is incredible.  We are always thinking, creating, trying and changing in Autahi.  

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