The children have been enjoying our handmade new loose parts recently. The curved bridge pieces in the pictures were purchased from a catalogue and the rest have been handmade by teachers and friends of Children’s Ark. So far the engagement with these new resources has been very high with imagination being expanded and wonderful small worlds being created.
“When children interact with loose parts, they enter a wold of “what if” that promotes the type of thinking that leads to problem solving and theoretical reasoning. Loose parts enhance children’s ability to think imaginatively and see solutions, and they bring a sense of adventure and excitement to children’s play” (Loose Parts: Inspiring play in young children. Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky. 2015).
We have been looking into more ways of introducing loose parts over the last 18 months. We have been slowly decreasing the amount of plastic in our centre and replacing things with natural materials. There are so much more beneficial for children to engage with and give a much richer sensory experience, and children of course learn through their senses.
Daly and Beloglovsky write: “We have often marvelled at the long hours children can spend playing with simple materials like boxes, rocks, shells, sand or water. Our observations have led us to question the conventional wisdom of providing children with sophisticated toys. As you’ve probably noted yourself, children are often more interested in the packaging than in the toys themselves.”
Perhaps with Christmas coming, it is worth considering how you could make some small world play very easily with inexpensive materials, some of which can be picked up online, trademe, or even op-shops. Here are some photos to inspire you.