In our observations and over the years of our work in a variety of classrooms we have gathered that some children connect easily and independently to the activities on the shelves and others need more direction on what to choose. We also observe that children want to play and manipulate objects on their own terms. Some of the Montessori materials are set up for this, but many have a specific purpose for use. To support the children’s need to play we are looking to increase our loose parts collection.
“In early childhood education settings, loose parts mean alluring, beautiful found objects and materials that children can move, manipulate, control, and change while they play. Children can carry, combine, redesign, line up, take apart, and put loose parts back together in almost endless ways. The materials come with no specific set of directions, and they can be used alone or combined with other materials.” (Daly, p. 3) There are 7 different categories of loose parts: nature based, wood reuse, plastic, metal, ceramic/ glass, fabric/ yarn/ ribbon, and packaging. Playing with loose parts has 5 big benefits:
- Developing inquiry skills- A child’s natural curiosity is an important element for the formation of critical thinking. Critical thinking requires children to take in information, analyze it, and make judgements about it.
- Teaching children to ask questions- Open ended learning activities cause children to think, to wonder, to ask questions.
- Develops a wide range of developmental areas- Promotes problem solving and risk taking which is key in the areas of: Social/Emotional, Cognitive, Math, Literacy, Physical, Arts, and Science.
- Develops imagination and creativity
- Develops social play and interaction
If you have any collections at home that you feel could make an inspiring addition to our loose parts collection, please let us know:-)