Loose parts is a phrase developed by architect Simon Nicholson, who carefully considered landscapes and environments that form connections. Nicholson believed that we are all creative and that ‘loose parts’ in an environment will empower our creativity. Loose parts can be any kind of material such as rocks, shells, cotton reels, tiles, boxes, buttons or beads. Items may be natural or man made.
“Loose parts are open ended. There is no set way to use them. They inspire creativity and problem solving through child directed learning. Children use their imagination and explore through sustained and engaged play. Perhaps you’ve seen your child use a small box as a telephone, a rock as some money or a stick as a pet? Children will often choose to explore loose parts rather than play with specific toys,” said Acting Deputy Head of School Early Learning and Educational Leader Victoria Kirkwood.
“Educators play an important role in providing these materials in ways that promote intentional learning and connection between ideas. Loose parts are perfect for exploring mathematical concepts such as counting, sorting and making patterns that involve repetition and symmetry. Social skills and language development are fostered through creative dramatic play. Educators carefully plan when to extend children’s thinking and facilitate making children’s learning visible by documenting their knowledge, skills and ideas.
“Many great loose parts are recycled or reused materials. Recently we supported our commitment to sustainable practice in the Early Learning Centre by visiting Reverse Garbage to source some materials such as beautiful gold bottle lids and large cardboard cones,” said Victoria.
“In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.” (Nicholson, S.)