Feeling ready to introduce your child to Loose Parts but unsure of how and where to start? We’re here to help! The key to selecting loose parts is to select materials that the child will be able to manipulate and combine in a multitude of ways. The real beauty of loose parts is that they are simple, affordable (if not free!), and accessible to anyone and everyone.
When you look around your home, do you see a space where your child can be the designer, the creator, the inventor? Are there materials and pieces, even furniture, that they can move around? If so, you have already offered your child an experience with Loose Parts!
Follow these 3 steps to begin collecting and inviting your child to play with Loose Parts:
To begin, think about your child’s interests. Do they like things that move? Do they like hiding themselves or their toys? Do they like connecting things together? Noticing how our children play is key in determining which types of Loose Parts to offer them. Download our handy guide to children’s play schemas here!
Now take that knowledge of your child, their interests, and their play schema, and begin to collect materials that fit into their schema. Here are a few examples to help you:
Millie likes to hide, both herself and her toys. Some loose parts that might appeal to her would include:
Pieces of fabric, pillows, sticks, yarn, baskets, envelopes, paper
Charlie likes things that move. Some loose parts that might appeal to him would include:
Balls, spools, ramps, film canisters, paper towel rolls, pom-poms, buttons
Josie likes to connect things together. Some loose parts that might appeal to her would include:
Paper, tape, clothespins, yarn, containers with lids
*TIP: Start by offering 3-4 materials and over time, you can offer additional or alternative materials.
Before offering your child Loose Parts, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Are there open possibilities for this material?
2. Can I say “yes” to my child using this material?
3. How am I going to present these materials?
*TIP: Laying materials out in baskets or containers in an aesthetically pleasing way naturally invites the child to explore the materials available.
Each Loose Parts invitation may not be a hit, and that’s okay! By staying in tune with our child’s interests we can make informed choices about the materials we bring into their environment.
Inviting Loose Parts into your home and your child’s play has tremendous benefits to their learning. Start small and remember that the child’s ideas, not ours, guide their play.
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Have you heard of The Maker’s Lab? Check them out on Instagram, @makers_lab_project, for Loose Parts play at home!