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Try at Home: Loose Parts Play

Try at Home: Loose Parts Play

What Is Loose Parts Play?

Loose Parts Play centers on the idea of using small everyday objects to spark open-ended imaginative play. A laundry detergent lid is transformed into something else, like the base of a space ship, or tiny doll bathtub. A paper towel tube becomes a high tower where a wooden craft stick person can watch for forest fires, or maybe even a telescope.

You can find out more about the philosophy behind Loose Parts Play by reading these articles: Loose Parts: What Does That Mean?, Explaining Loose Parts Play, and Loose Parts: Inspiring Play In Young Children.

child plays creatively with random household things

Getting Started

Grab a small bin or shoe box and look around to see what you can find. You can also involve your child in this part of the process. Found objects work great! Start with your recycling bin or or take a walk in the park. Make sure everything is clean and safe for your child; not sharp or too small. Creating and adding to the box over time works as well. Keep your eye out for smooth stones, yogurt cups, bits of fabric, and so on.

Loose parts play is open-ended and child-centered because it has no sample product or set of rules. Children interact with the parts in their own unique way, experimenting and trying out theories and ideas. Open-ended toys like this are more flexible than toys that can only do one thing. As your child plays, they may want to tell you about what they are doing. Often they have an entire story about what’s happening in their play world.

Your children will decide how to play with the materials, and lose themselves in creativity. This activity is perfect for both self-directed quiet play and interactive play with you or other family members. Set out the box when you are busy doing something else and see what happens! When we featured Loose Parts Play at the library, many children enjoyed spending a long time creating and playing with the objects in our box.

man and two kids play creatively with random household things

Read More

Try these books for more open-ended play ideas:

Unplugged Play: Preschool by Bobbi Conner

Art Play! by Meredith Hagee Donnelly

Nature Play Workshop for Families by Monica Wiedel-Lubinski and Karen Madigan

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