3 minutes reading time (557 words)

Loose Parts Day

On Wednesday 11 December we will be swapping our toys for loose parts. It is time to let our imaginations run WILD! 

What is loose parts play? 

Loose parts create richer environments for children to play, giving them the resources they need to extend their play. Loose parts aren't prescriptive and offer limitless possibilities.

A stick, for example, may become a fishing rod near real or imaginary water, a spoon in a mud kitchen, a tool to nudge a football that is stuck in a tree; it can be thrown, floated, snapped, pinged, bent, hidden, added to a pile, burnt, tied to something else, split, catapulted or discarded. Static, unchanging play spaces do little for children whereas environments which can be manipulated, where things move and can be moved open worlds of possibility. At a beach, for example, there is an abundance of water, sand, stones, rocks, smells, sights, vistas and textures which enable children to be highly inventive and creative in their play. Natural environments such as mature woodland or beaches often provide significantly more loose parts with higher levels of possibilities than many artificial play spaces such as an asphalt school playground or an urban park. Children who play outdoors or in large indoor spaces with others do not need many toys. By providing perhaps just a few well-chosen toys but numerous loose parts we can enrich the play space and facilitate play. 

The list of possible loose parts is endless but can include: 

• natural resources – such as straw, mud and pine cones 

• building materials and tools – planks, nails, hammers 

• scrap materials – old tyres, off-cuts of guttering 

• bark which can be both safe playground surfacing and a loose part 

• and, most essentially, random found objects. 

Children need environments they can manipulate and where they can invent, construct, evaluate and modify their own constructions and ideas through play. Children require opportunities to develop ownership of the environment where they play. The introduction of loose parts, such as scrap materials, sand and water increases the possibilities for children to engage in these types of behaviours even in 'artificial' environments, outside or in.

We need your help... 

To make this day successful we need plenty of loose parts supplies. We are asking if each family between now and Wednesday could bring in a bag of loose parts.

These items maybe: scrap material, buttons, coloured gem stones, wood off cuts, nails, building materials - pipes etc, hair rollers, pine cones, fishing nets, wooden trays, cotton reels, beads. If you are having trouble thinking of items let us know, otherwise google 'loose parts'. There are 100's of ideas. 

Please hand your bag of loose parts at the office.

The benefits of loose parts play 

 There is a growing body of evidence (Hyndman, Benson, Ullah and Telford, 2014) of the benefits of playing with loose parts including: 

• Increasing levels of creative and imaginative play 

• Children play cooperatively and socialise more 

• Children are physically more active 

• Curriculum outcomes occur through informal play with loose parts (Wagland, 2015) 

• Loose parts facilitate communication and negotiation skills when added to an outdoor space (Maxwell, Mitchell and Evans, 2008).


We will take photos on the day to show you how the children's imagination created some wonderful learning opportunities.