WHAT IS LOOSE PARTS PLAY AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Allowing and encouraging young kids to play with loose parts encourages problem solving, deep thinking, and imagination, and it allows children to grow and strengthen their natural creativity! If you talk while you play, you’ll help your little one build school readiness skills in a variety of areas: language and storytelling, math, physical science, and art.
GATHER LOOSE PARTS
One great thing about loose parts play is that you don’t need to buy anything, it’s all about finding things outside or in your home and using them in new ways. Loose parts are objects from nature or your house that give you unlimited opportunities to design, create, knock it down, and rebuild. Loose parts play can be done on a tabletop to develop fine motor skills. Use baskets, plastic bowls, or empty egg cartons to gather and sort.
Look for rocks, pebbles, small sticks, or pinecones.
Gather things like recycled yogurt cups, egg cartons, buttons, bottle caps of all colors and sizes, empty thread spools, straws, or empty paper towel tubes. Set aside baskets or bins to build your collection. Add a mirror for a fun surface to build on.
LIBRARY SUPPLY KIT
Find a variety of objects you can sort, stack, count, and use for process art.
USE YOUR LOOSE PARTS
BUILD MATH AND LANGUAGE SKILLS
Let’s sort everything we found by color. Which color pile has the most items?
I wonder what you will do with these?
Can you use what we found to make pretend house for tiny people?
How can you arrange these pebbles to make the letter A?
Can you use your things to show me 6? How about 10? Which is more?
Let’s line these buttons up to make a pattern. Red, yellow, red, yellow… What comes next?
- What will happen if we stack these? How high can we build?
BUILD LARGE MOTOR SKILLS
Make a fort–inside turn the couch into a fort using pillows or blanks, or outside use a pile of large sticks. Make paths or obstacle courses–inside use pillows, or outside use branches and sticks.
BUILD SMALL MOTOR SKILLS
You can also build small–use small sticks to show where the walls of a house would be and acorns for where you would put chairs. Use paper towel tubes for a castle. Or use other natural objects for a fairy house!
Sing a Tisket a Tasket, then grab a basket and gather loose parts! Watch until the end to get more ideas for how to sort and play with loose parts to build math skills.
Find more loose parts ideas, including how to turn your loose parts into Andy Goldsworthy style art on the Summer STEAM page.