Loose parts play: What’s it all about? - Step4
Loose parts play: What’s it all about?

Loose parts play: What’s it all about?

Loose parts play is a form of play that has recently risen in popularity in early learning centres. It’s an avenue for children to have access to an assortment of materials that they can manipulate, build, explore, and create with. The materials they use are open-ended, allowing them to use their imagination and creativity to create whatever they like.

These materials can include blocks, sticks, rocks, cardboard, fabric, and other items that can be easily sourced from around the house or outdoors. In an effort to be more economical and give old household items a second life, many early learning centres ask families to bring in loose parts from around the home. Loose parts play has many benefits for children and in this article we’ll delve into these benefits.

  1. Encourages creativity and imagination

Loose parts play encourages children to use their creativity and imagination to create whatever they like. Unlike structured play where children are given instructions on what to do, loose parts play allows children to think outside the figurative – and sometimes literal – box and come up with their own ideas. This can help promote creative thinking and problem-solving skills that are crucial for development. Developing a sense of creativity and imagination also aligns with the EYLF Learning Outcome of ‘Children are confident and involved learners.’

  1. Fosters adaptability

Going hand-in-hand with creativity, loose parts play encourages children to be adaptable in their thinking. Since there are no set instructions, children must learn to be flexible and adjust their thinking as they go. While adaptability may take a while to learn – especially for younger children – as an educator it’s important for you to give children space to work things out and learn this skill for themselves but gently guiding them along the way when they need assistance.

  1. Enhances fine motor skills

Loose parts play also has physical benefits. Playing with the various materials can help children develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Handling small pieces of loose parts requires concentration and focus, and over time, it can improve a child’s hand strength and dexterity. Accessories such as these Natureplay Wooden Tweezers are the perfect addition to any loose parts collection.

  1. Promotes Socialisation

When children engage in loose parts play, they often work together to create something. Working together and collaborating helps to achieve the Learning Outcome ‘Children are confident communicators’ and ‘Children are connected with and contribute to their world’. The socialisation that takes place during a loose parts play session helps children learn to take turns, communicate their ideas, and collaborate with others.

  1. Encourages Risk-Taking

Playing with loose parts gives children the opportunity to experiment and take risks in a safe and controlled environment. Children can test out different ideas without fear of failure or criticism. This can help them build confidence and resilience, which can benefit them in many areas of life.

Our top picks for loose parts play

If you’re looking to build up your collection, here are some of our latest arrivals and top picks for your centre:

All in all, loose parts play is an excellent way to encourage creativity, imaginative thinking, fine motor development, socialisation and risk-taking in children. It’s an opportunity for educators to allow the children in their early learning centre to use their imaginations to their full potential. By providing children with the opportunity to explore and experiment in an unstructured environment, they are better equipped to navigate real-world situations that require flexibility, creativity, and adaptability. So, if loose parts play is yet to be a big part of your early learning centre, this is your time to get on board!

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