While children can and will play with almost anything, there are resources we can provide that facilitate and encourage play. Items such as, fabric, buckets, boxes, rope, tyres, wood and scrap materials used for playing are known as loose parts.
Loose parts are used widely by children in play settings, schools and childcare centres. Sourcing and re-using materials as things for children to play with in settings is a small and simple way to help the environment, whilst improving opportunities for play and creativity.
Anything used as a loose part can offer limitless play possibilities. For example, a stick may become a fishing rod near real or imaginary water, or a spoon in a mud kitchen, or a tool to nudge a football that’s stuck in a tree; it can be thrown, floated, snapped, pinged, bent, hidden, added to a pile, tied to something else, split, catapulted, or used to make a fire.
There is a theory of loose parts. It states that: ‘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.’
Loose Parts Play Toolkit
Play Wales have developed a Loose Parts Toolkit. The Resources for playing – providing loose parts to support children’s play toolkit has been developed to support adults in the play, early years, and education sectors to provide loose parts play within their settings.