‘Loose parts’ in play, have had a lot of attention lately. So where did this idea come from, what do we mean by loose parts and what is it’s relevance to Discovery Time?
Simon Nicholson coined the phrase ‘loose parts’ in the 1970s. “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”
He insisted that creativity, inventiveness and discovery weren’t the preserve of the ‘brilliant and talented,’ but were available to everyone if surrounded by open-ended, real materials and given opportunities to explore and experiment.
Photos show it best…
I like the way ‘Let the Children Play’ blog puts it, “that loose parts are any materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, taken apart and put together in multiple ways.”
However, the ‘Right From the Start’ blog asks “Do we over complicate loose parts?” Do we become obsessed with collecting materials, sorting it and finding storage for all the bits?
“For the child, loose parts are everywhere, they probably don’t call them loose parts but they will find them. For me, the theory of loose parts is an attitude to how children play. It is an acceptance that children may use what is in their environment and make their own choices about what to do with it. Materials do not have to be displayed or stored beautifully, they simply need to be there.”
In the classroom, some organisation is necessary to reduce chaos, but the most important thing is that children have ready access to a wide range of things and are free to use them (safely) in any way they choose. Don’t let children’s imagination and creativity be limited by adults (sometimes restrictive) view.
Have a look at the Scrapstore playpod video – you may have seen it before, but it never ceases to amaze me how inventive children are and how different their thinking is to that of adults.
Give your students a Discovery Time environment where they have access to plenty of variables and watch them explore, create, problem solve, negotiate and have fun learning.