Discovering the world with ‘loose parts play’
At BEPS International School, we believe that play is a natural tool for learning and an essential aspect of a child’s development. In our Early Years, children are engaged in play-based experiences that allow them to explore their curiosity, build confidence, and nurture fundamental knowledge and skills.
We have recently introduced a new concept to our Early Years children: “Loose parts play” is now part of our daily ‘free flow’ activities. Our teachers have been encouraging the children to use their imagination, playing with resources including cardboard boxes, wooden planks, branches, tires, pipes, and plastic guttering but also smaller items like buttons, shells, leaves, pebbles, coloured pompoms, and so on.
The children can use these loose parts to carry, combine, build, sort, take apart, and put back together in almost endless ways, allowing them to make anything from a pirate ship to an obstacle course or den.
And although the word “play” may suggest otherwise, there is a lot of learning going on when children engage with loose parts. It promotes types of thinking and skills that lead to problem solving, collaborating, reasoning and thinking imaginatively.
Watching the children in action, you can hear the shrieks of joy and laughter when they discover a new purpose or usage for the materials on offer. It is exciting to watch them play with the long plastic gutters and cardboard tubes. It doesn’t take long for the children to work out that they need to work together to handle these long objects, working as a group, giving each other instructions, trial and error, laughter and confidence when they construct a giant race track for the cars.
There is no doubt that playing with loose parts brings a sense of adventure and excitement to children’s play. They learn to be the inventors of their own world.