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When introducing loose parts, starting outdoors is a great place. Firstly, there are a wealth of natural loose parts in many outdoor environments that most children will already be acquainted with, therefore, making it the perfect place for practitioners to observe play and gain a deeper understanding of how children are already using the loose parts around them. 


Secondly, there is a lot more space outdoors for children to use larger loose parts and engage in risky play. Risky play is extremely important because it does not only encompass each area of learning, but it brings the characteristics of effective learning to the forefront; building confident, willing, independent and creative learners is what the ethos of loose parts play is all about. As previously discussed, we cannot begin to imagine the types of subject knowledge children will need to engage with in the future, but we can ensure that children have the right attitude and mental well-being to cope. Furthermore, risk taking appeals to all, but it particularly engages those children that cannot sit still and listen for long periods of time (something which cannot be expected of many young children) and as practitioners we should embrace this style of learning and exploit it to our advantage. 


The best way to manage risks is to talk about them with the children as they are playing and exploring the larger loose parts, this is because at this time it is when it is most relevant to them and what they’re doing. When children are playing with large loose parts such as cable reels, crates and wooden planks they often build structures which require lifting and balancing cumbersome objects. Talking to the children about how the objects should be carried, perhaps suggesting different numbers of people dependent on the weight and size, will minimise associated risks. Talking through with the children that they need to let go of a positioned object slowly to ensure it will stay in place also minimises associated risks. However, always be aware that as a facilitator you want the children to use their own knowledge, so don’t give them the answers but make comments such as, ‘That looks too heavy for one person’ and ‘I don’t know if that is small enough to fit on top’, which will trigger them to think about it too. 

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