The moment you see it, you’ll know that magic of loose parts play has been sparked. And it is very memorable.
The innovative ideas of children coming to life is an awe inspiring event to watch unfold.
Their questions and theories visibly seen through their collecting, transporting and organizing of loose parts.
Sometimes it’s a child exploring balance and weight transfer while trying to build a tower taller than them. Or another example is a child discovering their shadow for the first time and wondering how that other person got there.
Being a part of a child’s memories in these inventions, explorations and discoveries is an honour.
But we all know that this magical moment doesn’t happen quickly or overnight sometimes. Sometimes to spark the magic of loose parts play can take time and a little extra intention is needed.
Here are 4 simple ways to inspire you, the children and families to spark the magic of loose parts play.
Curiosity Bags For Families
At the entrance of your centre/rooms place a variety of loose parts in bags for families to take home and explore with, encourage them to take photos and share stories of what unfolded. Put a reminder card in the bag about what loose parts play is and how it can be anything and everything and include a couple points on how loose parts play is connected to the different learning domains.
This helps educate and advocate with your families on the benefits of play!
Engaging in all of your senses is a beneficial way to build a path for creativity to express itself. But remember your body has more than the traditional 5 senses commonly talked about. Their are 8 sensory systems that we need to be aware of. Such as our vestibular and proprioceptive senses, and these allow your bodies to move, feel free, and gain confidence.
Exploring with loose parts variables across all the categories will engage these senses and will also aid with regulation.
Loose parts are filled with sensory stimulation and when you intentionally curate a variety of materials this not only benefits children but also your body too from engaging your senses!
If you need a little help or place to start with the connections between loose parts play and sensory processing, check out the blog, Planning For Our Senses!
Play, Play, Play with Loose Parts
Find activities or ways that make you playful. Engage with loose parts, cooking, art, walking, hiking. Anything that brings you joy and allows you to engage your curiosities.
Loose Parts Play isn’t just the tangible items. In the Theory of Loose Parts, Nicholson talks about a variety of variables that we can explore, invent, discover and have fun with.
and even our words and ideas are loose parts play!
So let those creative juices flow and let your innate curiosity take over!
Spark the Magic of Loose Parts Play at Team Meetings
Taking the time to play as a group will increase connection and build stronger relationships. Try to find new ways to engage in play at staff meetings.
Such as putting an array of loose parts variables out and inviting educators to play. As adults we can find it hard to play, but a simple prompt of “What could your team build with this?”, could be just enough to get them going.
Another way to indirectly spark the magic of loose parts play is to place pictures of different buildings from around the world for inspiration or pair it with some books about building. And see if that sparks their creativity to dive in and get there. (But..don’t get hung up on the idea of only building, use that as an invitation to see where your team of educators takes it!)
Listening and watching educators unlocking the magic of loose parts during my live workshops is an absolute joy for me. Knowing that their own curiosities have been sparked and the collaboration that manifests brings out learning that we cannot plan for.
What I find interesting is some groups use a lot of dialogue to problem solve while other groups do it in a nonverbal conversation of taking turns for people to explore their ideas and natural turn taking occurs. Even though it may be quiet in those groups, you can see the active thinking playing out.
Bonus Idea to Spark the Magic & Get Families Involved!
I can’t help myself and want you to have all the tools you need to embark on this amazing journey with loose parts play.
One way to spark interest and curiosity is to ask families and your community to donate loose parts to your early years setting.
But be very specific on what you’re looking for, otherwise you’ll get things you might not need!
One great way to is have baskets at the front entrance that have labels with specific items names, this helps you get exactly what you’re looking for and the families involved!
The Importance of Sparking the Magic of Loose Parts Play
REMEMBER – There is no right way or wrong way to play with loose parts…just YOUR way!
I truly believe that for you to really understand the magic of loose parts, you must experience it first hand. Observing children in their play is awe inspiring, but feeling and seeing your own self be creative will help you connect deeper with the children.
If you don’t know what the excitement/nervousness feels like to build a tower past your shoulder and not sure if the next one will make it fall over or the perseverance it takes to complete your 100 glass stone creation then you are missing key elements of loose parts play.
Find your creativity through inventing, exploring, discovering and having fun!
Engage Your Curiosity
Check out these other blogs and trainings on loose parts play:
I am an Early Childhood Consultant and very passionate about supporting and inspiring my fellow Educators. I will share my reflections and experiences about implementing my philosophy, views, and ideas into my practice.
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Inspiring and mentoring my fellow educators how to use loose parts to enhance all aspects of their practice. I share my dual roles of educator & momma and how our autistic son has shown me so many new perspectives.
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