What are “loose parts” and what do you do with them?

Loose parts can be ANYTHING! Loose parts are mostly random bits and pieces of materials like sea shells, puzzle pieces, water bottles, straws, silk scarves, thread spools, scrap material, tulle, really anything that can be found in everyday life. The fun, exciting and interesting thing about loose parts is that they really have no “purpose”, they can be anything and can be used in any way. All you need is your imagination!

What do you do with loose parts? They can be moved around, sorted, stacked, added and manipulated. Loose parts let children use their imaginations and creativity to create fun and interesting things. The possibilities are endless! Loose parts are open ended with no preconceived outcome to their use. There is no right or wrong way to use them, no rules or directions, you can “make it up” as you go!

Loose parts play encourages children to explore, experiment, design, create and construct. It gives them an opportunity to figure out that there are different ways of doing things. It helps them to explore different options, if something doesn’t work, to try a different way. It teaches them to be critical of their own creations, be flexible and if things don’t work out, how to be resilient. It encourages independent play, self-motivation and creative thinking.

How can you add “loose parts play” into your program? It’s easy, have a place or bin designated to put in anything that doesn’t “fit”, and let the children use their imaginations and watch them create something spectacular! As with all activities, use loose parts that are age appropriate for the children in your care. The possibilities are ENDLESS!! Have fun with it, see what you can create too!!

Using loose parts for play