What are loose parts?
Loose parts come in many shapes and sizes; they are objects with no predetermined purpose that can be used in many different ways. Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky (2014) describe loose parts in their book, ‘Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children’, as materials that,
‘Children can carry, combine, redesign, line up, take apart and put . . . back together in almost endless ways.’
When it comes to loose parts it is less about the materials you provide and more about allowing resources to be used in unique ways; giving children the opportunity to discover, create, explore, experiment and invent freely. As I previously said, its nothing new. You only need to look back at your own childhood when petals and water were combined to create perfume, sticks were used as swords and patterns were created in mud, sand and snow.
Boredom led us, as children, to be creative with freely available resources. This boredom ceases to exist with the sudden rise in technological advances and although technology has its place, even in loose parts play, we are raising a generation of children that are less creative, inventive and inquisitive. This is why loose parts play is seeing a resurgence as more and more practitioners see the potential of loose parts for the development of children in the early years and beyond.