Monday

Loose Parts


I always thought I was being a lazy mom when I let my kids play with our household trash.

Paper towel rolls, tissue paper from packages, empty milk jugs -- before items end up in the garbage can, they often end up in the playroom.

It turns out I am not lazy. I am on the cutting edge of parenting.

“Loose parts” is a term I just learned from my children’s childcare facility. Teachers were requesting items for loose parts play and the wish list looked like an inventory of the junk drawer in my kitchen.
String or twine, plastic bottle caps, fabric scraps, buttons and feathers. The list included many more items, including rocks, twigs, leaves and acorns.

Essentially, any kind of materials that can be combined, repurposed, put together or taken apart are candidates for loose parts play.

There are no directions or instruction manual for loose parts play. The possibilities are only limited by the child’s imagination.

After a year of a structured school curriculum, I was ecstatic to learn that my 7-year-would be experiencing this method of play during her summer camp. The word “loose” is exactly what our kids need: more free, easy-going, open-ended time.

I know my kid needs a break from rigidity and step-by-step instructions by the time May rolls around.

It may look strange to give my daughter a bucket full of random household and nature items, but what I’m really giving her is freedom. Freedom to decide what those items will be used for and what direction she wants her play to go.

Any parent who has experienced Christmas morning with young children knows- the box is often more interesting to the child than the toy it contained. So instead of something from the store, fill a box with some loose parts from the backyard or the recycling bin and watch what happens.

This picture of CeCe playing with a paper towel tube is 7 years old, but it gets my point across.  


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