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What You Need to Know About Loose Parts Play

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“In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kinds of variables in it.”  
Simon Nicholson 

        photo: @benieandoliesplayroom


The Importance of Loose Parts Play  

Loose parts play is a form of open-ended play that uses everyday objects to create, build, explore, tinker, experiment, invent, and learn. Using loose objects as a “toy” allows for endless fun. Loose parts can be anything from a collection of buttons, to wooden shapes, to gems, to a collection of sticks from around your yard. Keeping your child’s playtime and materials simple will inspire them to use their imagination!

When you step back and give space for little one's creative mind to engage—you will be amazed at all they are capable of. Instead of consistently handing our children pre-made toys, loose parts offer them the opportunity to use their imaginations, problem solve, take risks, and try new things. Constructing something out of the loose parts and pieces will give them a sense of accomplishment and confidence that is difficult to find with a single use plastic toy.



Loose parts play is a great learning tool that can help children develop many new skills:  

  • Gross and Fine Motor  
  • Cooperation 
  • Communication 
  • Problem Solving 
  • Independence 
  • Creative Thinking 
  • Risk Taking
  • Attention to Detail
  • Counting
  • Ordering Materials
  • Vocabulary Development

Inspiring Open-Ended Play 

As with any form of open-ended play, we must remind ourselves often that playing with loose parts is typically child-led. Our job is simply to inspire —this often looks like making pieces accessible and systematically adding to or swapping out the loose parts that are available. 

One reason we are big fans of loose parts play is that it allows for a creative outlet. One child might use colored wood pieces to create a design on the floor (similar to a mandala) while another could decorate the top of their castle with the same colored pieces. Each child will interpret the materials differently and it is always so cool to witness the variation and interpretation of the materials. 


photo: @the_redwood_records

Material Ideas for Loose Parts Play 

The beauty of this type of play is that the materials can be used any way your child desires! 

Here are a few material ideas to consider adding to your loose parts collection:  

  • Sticks 
  • Wood Pieces/Shapes
  • Rocks 
  • Mini-Erasers
  • Felt Pieces
  • Buttons 
  • String // Pipe Cleaners
  • Pom Poms  
  • Peg People
  • Seashells 
  • Acorns 
  • Leaves 
  • Small Animals / Figurines
  • Craft Sticks
  • Acrylic Pieces
  • Wood Rings
  • Pouch Tops

If you’re looking for more ideas for your child, check out these fun miniature eraser collections, wooden spools, and rainbow semispheres

Many of our Creative Learning Co.™ Learning Boards™ are great for holding loose parts play and organization


        photo: @growingupyang


Helping Parents Create a Fun and Engaging Learning Environment 

The Creative Learning Co.™ is thrilled to be supporting parents like you by helping foster a genuine love for learning through play-based activities. We’d love for you to follow along with us and continue exploring the idea of open-ended play. Sign-up for our newsletter today and receive $10 off your first order!

            Loose parts play


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