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Early Education Center (EEC)

This month the EEC would like to share how to inspire a loose parts space at home!

Loose parts play is essential to a child’s development because it develops:

-          Eye hand coordination

-          Exploration

-          Creativity

-          Fine motor skills

-          Gross motor skills

-          Language

-          Executive thinking

-          Problem solving

What are loose parts?

-          They consist of anything and everything from nature (sticks, acorns, pinecones) to gems, recycled parts, wool felt balls, water, sand, playdough, etc. Pretty much anything.  

-          They are the most open-ended materials with endless possibilities of use, while still acting as a teaching tool. Examples would be sorting, properties like big/small, textures, investigations, building, etc.  

How do I mimic at home? 

·         First step would be to talk a walk outside and collect items from nature. 

·         Start a small recycling bin for art and building materials. 

·         The more open-ended materials the better.    

·         Have ample space for art and a variety of materials always available. 

·         Make sure to allow for messy play. The bigger the mess, the more creativity is flowing!

·         Have “homes” for all the materials. Teach the children to put the materials back in the right place. Label bins with pictures and words of what materials are supposed to be in it. Clean up will go much easier that way.

·         More wooden toys, less plastic!


-          If you have time and are able, documentation is great to see the similarities and differences in their preferences. This can just be a simple journal or a picture collage. You can have the children be involved in the process as well as having them pick out what they want you to document. Examples would be an art project or a special block creation. The more you learn about what they gravitate towards, the more likely they will be to engage with the materials and create some awesome things. It’s often stated that you can give children a million toys and all they want to do is play with the boxes! So why not play on that and create a whole city with boxes? The children will make the most of what they have, and it doesn’t have to be an extravagant, expensive toy. Their little minds are wonderous and you will be amazed at what they can come up with!

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