What are Loose Parts?

Loose parts mean alluring, beautiful found objectives and materials that children can move, manipulate, control, and change while they play (Oxford Play Association, 2014).

Loose parts may be natural, reclaimed, recycled and known materials (beads, fabric, metal, paper, etc.) that are open-ended (can be combined in endless ways). They have no specific directions. Being open-ended the materials encourage conversations, interactions, and collaboration. They are fundamental to higher thinking skills.

While the materials are open-ended, they still need to be have their intentions scaffolded by adults, who model…

That all materials belong to the group and are part of the learning community.

That care and attention is given to the materials by inviting the community members to sort unused materials and return them to their place or origin in the classroom, thus displaying their aesthetics and possibility for future work.

That the use of materials, requires intentionality of how and why we use them.

For educators, create an intention when introducing the materials, both sharing their possibilities but also take caring not to assign limiting attributes to materials (this part used for wheels).

Loose parts are open-ended and celebrate children’s imagination – often in joyous and messy ways.

When thinking about your environment, how might you introduce loose parts into your classroom?

How might you incorporate materials (and their rights to be other things) into your classroom environments?