How To Encourage Loose Parts Play in Your Setting
The importance of loose parts play
‘Loose Parts’ are open-ended resources that allow children to use them in a broad range of ways, combining with other materials and resources through their own creativity and imagination.
Loose parts are an invaluable part of any Early Years environment and the play and learning opportunities that arise from simple and easily-accessible resources, are incredible.
Loose parts allow children to think critically, be creative, use their imagination, test their own ideas and lead and develop their own play and learning with ease.
Children are curious learners by nature and so as soon as loose parts or interesting resources are added to provision, children will have an innate desire to explore them and so in order to encourage loose parts play within your setting, provide children with a diverse range of loose parts; varying in size, colour, texture and usability.
The more choice and selection children have in terms of the loose parts on offer within the provision, the more their creativity and imagination can run wild and they can truly immerse themselves in their exploration and creations.
Choosing the right space for loose parts play is important
In order to ignite children’s curiosity with loose parts in the provision, we must approach the aesthetics of our provision and display the loose parts offerings in a way that is exciting, engaging and attracts the children’s attention. Not only this, but we must provide loose parts in areas of the provision that have space and capacity for creativity and exploration on a larger scale so that children’s ideas, creations and designs are not inhibited by the environment and they are able to freely explore and create without restriction.
Boost a child’s confidence with loose parts play
For some children, loose parts may feel slightly daunting when presented with them freely within the environment and so there might be a need for a practitioner to immerse themselves in their own exploration and creation for some time in order to role-model the various ways in which the resources can be used; some children might feel more confident to have that adult support/demonstration before beginning to access these types of resources independently and for some children who need support in terms of creativity and imaginative play, they may ask what the purpose of each item/resource is in order to gain an understanding of what they ‘should’ use these types of resources for.
In this instance, it is our role as practitioners to use our knowledge of the children we care for to sensitively demonstrate, guide and support children as they navigate these new and sometimes daunting resources and play opportunities until children feel confident enough to explore and create independently.
We must not assume that all children will automatically be drawn to loose parts and other interesting resources within the provision as for some children in can be a daunting process exploring new and open-ended resources with no set purpose and so for these children we may need to intervene and support and provide reassurance that there is no ‘right’ way to access loose parts.
Offer new and exciting play and learning opportunities
Once our children are confident in accessing and using loose parts, our role then becomes to continually offer new and exciting loose parts, create ‘provocations’ to develop and extend the children’s learning opportunities as well as challenge their creativity and allow their imagination and exploration to further grow as they create new, exciting and engaging play for themselves.
Loose parts offer a wealth of opportunity for children’s play, learning and development and are an invaluable resource for any environment and a catalyst for imagination and creativity within the provision and so we must ensure we provide significant opportunities for loose parts play to be accessed freely within our settings and sit back and watch in wonder as the children amaze us with the depth, spontaneity and creativity of their play and imagination when accessing these resources.