Learning with Loose Parts

Learning with Parts Boxes

What are loose parts?

Have you ever noticed that children are often much more interested in the box then what was in it!? A box is a GREAT example of a loose part. It can be whatever your child wants it to be. Loose parts are things that inspire your children’s imagination and creativity to invent, create and make things on their own terms. There are no predetermined outcomes or samples. Just a bunch of different things to create whatever they want. We call this open-ended learning.


Loose Part Examples

Natural Synthetic/Person Made
Seeds, pinecones, needles, bark, wood Boxes, paper towel & toilet rolls newspapers, magazines
Rocks, pebbles, stones Paper towel and toilet paper tubes
Sand, dirt, mud Blocks, legos, manipulatives
Sticks, branches, leaves Buttons, spools, beads, popsicle sticks, straws
Flowers, grasses Paints, brushes,
Feathers, shells, driftwood measuring cups, spoons, buckets, funnels
Water Tools, large nuts & bolts, wood scarpes
Shells & other beach treasures Box of toy animals, play cars

Recommended Loose Parts Manipulatives Toys for your child

The children love playing with all of these loose parts manipulatives at school. Try them at home!

What your child learns with loose parts

  • Problem Solving
  • Engineering skills
  • Concentration
  • Self confidence
  • Creativity
  • Sharing, collaborating, leading, following
  • Hand-eye coordination, large and small motor skills
  • Language and vocabulary
  • Scientific thinking
  • Social and emotional development
  • Literacy
  • And a lot more. The learning opportunities are endless.

How to encourage loose part learning with your child

  • Look for and gather loose parts (Be aware of choking hazards)
  • Give the loose parts to your child
  • Observe & participate. Get in on the fun!
  • Model but don’t lead or insist on doing something your way or the ‘right’ way
  • Comment using Feedback loops, Open-Ended Questions & fun, new, different words.

How to store loose parts for your child

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Plastic boxes
  • Divided storage for buttons, feathers, pebbles…
  • Bags
  • Anything works

Loose parts are a great tool for learning at home! They are easy, mostly free and fun to collect and use. Most importantly loose part learning can bring parents and children together at home using their imagination, creativity, and problem solving skills. The learning opportunities are endless!

Jenni Rice - Owner & Director
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